Two weeks ago, Mark Jooris received a thunderous ovation when he was introduced at Houston Field House as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1985 NCAA Division I hockey championship.
When his son, Josh, is introduced at the field house next season, he’ll probably hear boos.
Josh Jooris, a 6-foot, 180-pound center for the Burlington Cougars of the Central Canadian Hockey League, won’t be following in his father’s footsteps and wearing the cherry and white RPI uniforms. Instead, he’ll be wearing the garnet and white of rival Union College.
“Part of me hurts a little bit,” said Mark Jooris Sunday as he talked about his son’s choice of colleges. “But it’s nice that he wants to carve his own path.”
In his first season as coach and general manager of the Cougars, Mark Jooris has been instrumental in clearing that path for his son, but make no mistake about it — the younger Jooris has talent. In 50 games this season, Josh Jooris scored 116 points, including a franchise-record 90 assists. The record that he broke (86) was set by his father during the 1981-82 season.
“It didn’t bother me a bit,” said Mark Jooris of losing the record. “I was very proud that Josh did it.”
The recipient of all those assists was winger Greg Carey, who will be playing at St. Lawrence next season. Carey finished the regular season with 72 goals, breaking the Ontario Junior A League record.
“They have tremendous chemistry,” said Mark Jooris. “They’re like [Wayne] Gretzky and [Jari] Kurri, [Adam] Oates and [Brett] Hull. One is a pure finisher, and the other is a tremendous passer.”
It’s not hard to conclude that Josh Jorris’ passing skills were inherited.
Mark Jooris was an integral part of the 1985 championship team, acting as the set-up man for players like Oates, George Servinis and John Carter.
When Carter scored the goal that beat Minnesota-Duluth in triple overtime in the NCAA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, it was Jooris who did the most celebrating. In fact, the goal, which deflected off a UMD defenseman, was first credited to Jooris because his overzealous celebration caused officials to think he was the one who deflected Carter’s shot.
“I was there to produce offense,” said Jooris, who was the No. 3 scorer on the national championship team with 60 points (23-37), and finished his career with 183 points (84-99). “I spent most of my time that year with Oates and Carter, or Oates and Servinis. I learned a lot about playing defense from coach [Mike] Addesa, but I was definitely a guy who was looked at to score.”
Although Jooris’ offensive skills were on a par with just about anyone else on the national championship team, he was usually operating in the shadows of his teammates.
“Oates and Carter and Servinis got a lot of press, but there was just so much to go around,” said Jooris. “Look at guys like [Daren] Puppa, [Mike] Dark, [Ken] Hammond, [Tim] Friday. They all took a backseat to those guys. But no one complained because we were an absolute team. We all jelled because we knew what our roles were.”
The scoring didn’t stop when Jooris graduated from RPI, either. After two years in Finland and a short stint in the American Hockey League at the end of the 1988 season, Jooris found his niche playing in Germany. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, he became one of the first North Americans to play in the German League, and during the 1991-92 season, he scored 123 points for Berlin Dynamo, winning the German elite league scoring championship.
And at the age of 46, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
“I’m still playing in a senior A league here,” he said. “I still love the game.”
Jooris doesn’t just play for the Dundas Real McCoys of the Major Hockey League. He’s one of their top players. During the 2001-02 season, he averaged an amazing four points per game, scoring 112 points in 28 games.
During the summer of 2008, both he and his son played together in an elite four-on-four league. At 44, Mark Jooris was the oldest player in the league; at 17, Josh Jooris was the second-youngest.
Besides playing, Mark Jooris is also making his mark as a coach.
“I got into coaching about five or six years ago,” said Jooris, who got his start in a Swiss pro league. “It gave me a chance to stay in the game, and I really like the challenge of coaching and making things work.”
The only thing he couldn’t do was convince his son to follow in his footsteps at RPI.
“He really loved the atmosphere and felt really comfortable with the coaching staff at Union,” said Mark Jooris. “He felt good about the whole situation.”
And Jooris thinks his son, who will turn 20 in July, can help the Dutchmen right away.
“There’s always going to be an adjustment, but I think he’s ready to make that adjustment,” Jooris said. “He’s got great vision, and I think they’ll like the way he works on the ice.”
And despite his close ties to RPI, Mark Jooris is going to be at Union as often as his schedule allows.
“Any free time I have, I’ll definitely be down there,” he said.