A widely noted aspect of Buffalo, New York, USA is that the city deeply embraces – and always has – its professional athletes. Buffalo is a hard-working, heart-on-your-sleeve, kindhearted sort of town and it loves its sports, especially hockey. In all essence, Buffalo is a hockey town.
And while most athletes playing for a team in the “City of Good Neighbors” become endeared with the city, few embrace it as strongly as a second home in the way that the Buffalo Beauts’ forward Jordan Juron has. Beauts fans have yet to become fully acquainted with her, as she only played in one home game – a raucous semi-final playoff game – during this past 2017-18 NWHL season. Rest assured though that the fans of Buffalo and the NWHL will have plenty of time to become acquainted with her as Season Four of the league rolls around.
On Jun. 21, 2018 word was released that Juron had re-signed with the Beauts for the 2018-19 season. For those who have seen her play and know her background, this was no real surprise – she is quite the player. As the Beauts continue to make headlines with their free agent signings, they have already inked their player who will embody the heart and soul of this hockey club going forward.
Juron is a long term Beaut now. THW had the opportunity to catch up with her shortly after her signing was announced. We talked a bit of everything with Juron, from Mario Lemieux, to country music, to the Buffalo Bills, and Marie-Philip Poulin. We feel strongly that the fans of Buffalo will embrace Juron just as strongly as she is ready to embrace you.
Developing an Early Love for the Game
Like most professional hockey players, Juron learned the game at an early age. More importantly, she has had a necessary lifelong support from family – one that has fully fostered her passion in the sport. Hockey, perhaps more than any other sport, is a family affair. It requires commitment not only from the athletes themselves, but from the family as a whole. Footing costs for equipment and ice time, rides to and from games and practices, early mornings and late nights for everyone. Juron’s upbringing was no different, and to this day she can still pinpoint when she first began her own love affair with hockey.
“The first time that I went on the ice was when I was five,” she recalled. “What got me interested was that the first full hockey game I watched on TV and focused on was when Mario Lemieux returned from cancer. This was a big reason why I wanted to play the game. I had a big poster of Mario Lemieux in my bedroom for years. I pretty much watched the game and told my dad, ‘I want to do that! I want to play!’ He told me that before I could play hockey, before he would buy me equipment, that the deal was that I had to learn how to skate.”
Unbeknownst to her father, Juron would be a natural at skating. Youthful enthusiasm was too much to be stymied by parental guidance, and she quickly became a water bug out on the ice.
“I remember my dad took me down to one of the local rinks and just rented me a cheap pair of hockey skates,” she went on to say. “I put them on, and he said, ‘Don’t go on the ice – I’m going to come out there with you.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m going on the ice.’ And he was like, ‘Well then hold onto the boards. I’ll be there in a second,’ because he was putting his skates on. Before he even got out there I was already cruising through the middle of the ice. So I pretty much stepped onto the ice and could skate right away, is what my dad says.”
Growing up in the Albany Area
Juron is from Latham, New York, which is a suburb to the north of the State capital of Albany. While opportunities to play girls hockey were rather limited in the area, there were still plenty of chances for her to play the sports all the same. The Albany area had then, and still has, ideal ice rink facilities and very strong youth programs throughout the region.
“I played boys hockey until I left for prep school,” Juron explained. “I grew up playing with the boys. There were definitely a lot of organizations – Schenectady, Clifton Park, Troy. I played with Troy Albany Youth Hockey (TAYHA). I played for the Triple-A CD Selects boys team.”
The hockey community is tightly knit, and the world itself is certainly a small one. In fact, Juron is not the only NWHLer to be developed and trained in one of the Albany area youth programs. A longtime friend and Metropolitan Riveters rival is also a product of the aforementioned programs. Both Juron and she found the training that they needed as youngsters, and continued to utilize as they grew up into adulthood.
Jordan shared, “One other player in the NWHL grew up with me – Courtney Burke, she plays for the Riveters. We grew up playing on that team. There’s pictures of us wearing matching do-rags that we’d wear under our helmets to hold our hair back. We grew up playing in TAYHA. We grew up there playing together, and then we both left and went away to our respective prep schools, but in the summers we came back. There’s a really cool, specialized hockey training facility back at home with Ron Kuhl, and he trained us every summer we came home together. I think there’s definitely a good hockey community back home.”
Juron’s Development During Her High School Years
Recognizing that while there were plenty of opportunities to play hockey in her hometown, eventually Juron would need to make the jump from boys hockey to girls hockey. This stemmed namely from her goals of wanting to play college hockey someday and her scholarly pursuits as well. Juron began looking at various preparatory schools that provided what she was looking for in terms of hockey and academics.
“In my hometown there weren’t many choices for playing high-level girls hockey,” she explained. “In order to go and play the game in college, I think you obviously need to switch from the boys to the girls game at some point. Everyone has to, just in terms of strength and how the game changes. I played in some showcases in Massachusetts and dipped into the New England prep school circuit because I figured that was the next best step for me, in terms of academics and to move closer to the goal of playing college hockey, was to go prep school. I went to Middlesex School. It’s in Concord, Massachusetts and we play in the ISL (Independent School League).”
In addition to attending Middlesex, Juron sought to play for a hockey club that further accentuated her play and development. Both her mother and father were vital cogs in not only helping her to find the right prep school, but also to determine a hockey program she could play for and compete with on the national scene. Assabet Valley Girls Hockey is recognized as one of the finest girls hockey programs in the USA, and it ended up being another opportunity for Juron to hone her skills.
“It’s not easy to send your 14-year-old daughter three hours away from home. I give my mom a lot of credit in that decision making process, because it’s not easy. My dad drew me a radius,” Juron remembered, “about a 20-mile radius around the Assabet home rink. He said I could pick a school within the radius so that I could also play for Assabet Valley, which was arguably the best girls program in the country year in and year out, across all the age divisions. I don’t know what it is now, but when I was there that’s what it was. We practiced on Sundays with Assabet and had games on Sundays. So my teammates and their families would me pick me up and bring me to the rink. I picked a school so that I could play for Assabet.”
How She Got to Boston University
Everything happens for a reason. The reason may not be apparent until many years down the line, but eventually we are able to recognize how certain steps in our lives unknowingly bring us other opportunities. For Juron it was not any different. While playing for Assabet Valley, she was coached by Dennis Laing for four years.
NWHL fans will certainly recognize the name, as Juron’s former coach is the father of Denna Laing and Brianna Laing who have each played for the Boston Pride, as well as younger sister Lexie Laing who is a Pride draft pick. Receiving Laing’s tutelage as her coach was instrumental in both Juron’s collegiate career, and eventually her professional career today.
— Pat Mac Photography (@PatMacPhotog) January 18, 2018
She explained to THW, “In terms of getting to BU, I played for Dennis Laing for four years. He’s the father of Bri Laing, the Pride goalie, and obviously Denna Laing. They have another daughter, Lexie, who will be making a splash in the league soon enough. I played for Dennis for all four years. He’s the reason I went on to play at BU. He turned me into the player I am today. My last year he made me the captain of the team, and I think he really pushed me to be my best and to work towards my goals. We won a bunch of State championships and a few national championships, and my name just got out there.”
When you speak with Juron, you recognize the sincere appreciation she has for everything that has come her way through her own hard work. That is extended to the coaches and the trainers that she has had. She does not take learning from Laing for granted, and knows that it had an immense impact on who she is today.
“Definitely credit a lot to him,” she said. “He’s turned a lot of players into D-I players, and there are a lot of players who play in the league (NWHL) now that played for him. Pretty awesome coach.”
Juron’s Accomplishments at BU
Juron played at Boston University from the 2012-13 season up through 2015-16. Within that time she not only established herself as a nose-to-the-grindstone, work-her-butt-off hockey player, but she developed friendships and memories that will continue to last her a lifetime. She is quick to point out too that while the team’s accomplishments during her four years certainly mean a great deal to her, it was the bonding with her teammates that puts everything else aside.
Asked what memories with the Terriers most touch upon her heartstrings, Juron responded:
“Creating the bonds. My class was really close, so we had tons of fun times and lived in an amazing city. But in regards to hockey specifically, a lot of the success we had are big memories that stick out. We won the Hockey East tournament three out of my four years at BU.”
— BU Women's Hockey (@TerrierWHockey) October 18, 2014
Juron and the Terriers would win the Hockey East Tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Through her four seasons at BU, she scored 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points in 141 career games. Juron set career highs during her senior season with five goals, nine assists and 14 points in 39 games. Statistics matter not, as they have little meaning when compared to her cherished memories. Lo and behold too, the season in which she had her career highs was the only one in which the Terriers did not win the Hockey East tournament. No – for Juron, she has far better memories from when she and her teammates were underdogs.
“The first one is always exciting,” she stated about winning Hockey East her freshman year, “but we won the regular season that year and we had a stacked team. I think anything short of winning would’ve been a disappointment that season. I would say the most special moment would’ve been winning the Hockey East tournament my sophomore season. Because we didn’t really have a great season, and the team just rallied together. We went into it telling ourselves that we weren’t going to lose. We rallied together, and we won a game that we shouldn’t have won. We shouldn’t have won the championship that year, and we did and it was awesome. I just remember the locker room after the game and our bus ride back to Boston.”
A Closeness With Family, a Closeness With Friends
Part of what made that sophomore championship particularly special for Juron was that her brother Jacob got to be part of it. Unbeknownst to her at the time, her BU teammates helped to have her younger brother present for the game. The Juron siblings have been close with one another all of their lives, and strive to always be of support to each other.
The older Juron recalled when thinking back to that particular championship, “My little brother played junior hockey down in Long Island for the USPHL Junior Islanders, and he surprised me. He came up for the game. My teammates knew, and they put him on the comp ticket list and didn’t tell me. He was there, so it was cool to have him there to see me win. I’m very close with him. We support each other a lot. He plays at Potsdam. He just played his freshman year and he was the Male Freshman Athlete of the Year. I made it out to a lot of his games this season. We definitely try to support each other a lot.”
Juron has similar sentiments when speaking about the importance of her teammates, past and present alike. THW asked if throughout her years of playing hockey if there was a particular player whom she tried to emulate. Unlike most players who are asked this question, Juron responded with the understanding that there are multiple players who have impacted both her life and her career. All of them have been teammates too. The list continues to this day and includes current Beauts teammates.
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) January 14, 2018
“For us (female hockey players), it’s a little difficult,” Juron explained. “Yeah, we see these guys in the NHL, but we know we’re never going to play in the NHL. Even when we were little we knew we were never going to play there. We didn’t have the professional women’s players to look up to. I think for me, I more so found that it’s the players closest to me that I’ve always admired, and found aspects of their game that I wanted to strive to emulate.
Juron went on to provide a few key – if not tremendous – instances of this being the case:
“For example, I had the opportunity to play with Marie-Philip Poulin for two of my four seasons at BU. I think it was my freshman year and my junior year, because she had the gap year (because of the Olympics). Just to be on the ice with her everyday for two years at BU, you find yourself trying to find a way to come close to doing some of the things that she can do out there. I’m pretty sure that every girl on our team looked up to her. That’s in terms of pure skill and things that she can do on the ice. Then Jill Cardella was a captain I had at BU. She was the captain I had my freshman year. Her selflessness and her ability to lead in order to bring our team together was something that I wanted to make an aspect of my game. Even now, I work out with Hayley Scamurra and I definitely admire her work ethic and how she trains. I’m just trying to keep up with her all summer. I lift with her, I try to be partners with her at the gym because she pushes me to work harder.”
Involvement With Hockey After Her College Years
After Juron completed her senior year at BU, she did not immediately make the jump to playing professionally. In fact, well over a year went by before she would play her first pro game. Offers were certainly there to play, and although she remained actively involved in the hockey scene, Juron’s goals did not initially include playing in the NWHL or any other comparable league.
“No, I was pretty dead set on not playing professionally after college,” she said. “I was getting some messages from some of the CWHL teams and some teams overseas as well, just trying to get me to come out to camps or even sign a contract and come play. College kind of just takes a toll. The college game is way different than how it is now for us (playing in the NWHL). You’re on the ice every single day, you’re playing multiple games a weekend, and I obviously had my plate full with my academics as well. I was kind of ready to just ‘hang ’em up’ and focus on my career.”
🚨🚨WELCOME TO THE BEAUTS!
— Buffalo Beauts (@BuffaloBeauts) March 11, 2018
One thing that she never let go of was her desire to coach. Juron is a natural when it comes to working with younger players, and it is something that she continues to do. Likely, she will be working with youth hockey players for a lifetime. It is a passion of hers that burns within, whether she is playing or not. She explained that even though she initially did not want to play professionally, she still had the yearning to be involved in the game.
“But I wanted to coach though. That’s something I’ve done for years. I’ve coached up at Can-Am in Lake Placid for six summers in a row. It’s not like I didn’t want to be involved in the game anymore – I just believed it was time to focus permanently on my studies and working towards my future goals. But when I was in Syracuse I coached a U-17/U-19 Syracuse Nationals team and doing specialized training at a facility, so I would say that I was still very involved in the game, but more so on the coaching-side versus the playing-side.”
Shuffling off to Buffalo
Back on Jan. 14, the 5-foot-8 Juron had joined the Beauts for a single game on a professional tryout. It would not take the sizable forward long to contribute. Juron picked up an assist in her first NWHL game on a tally from Beauts forward Rebecca Vint. Then word came out on Mar. 8 that she had joined the team for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Juron joined the Beauts for their final game of the 2017-18 regular season. In the Mar. 10 4-1 victory over the Connecticut Whale, she scored her first professional goal.
Two points in two regular season games sounds like something that Juron and the Beauts could get quite used to. Furthermore, now that she is signed for the 2018-19 season the team will have her for a full campaign. Juron has jumped right into the “Queen City” and is right where she belongs.
“Well I moved here, so it is home now,” she said with a grin. “My mom was just yelling at me to go to the DMV to get my license to say Buffalo, New York on it. But I live pretty much next to the rink down in Canalside. There’s always so much going on down here, especially now in the summer. All the concerts, and all the things that they have down by the water. I’m definitely taking advantage of what the city has to offer. I like exploring and finding new restaurants, which Buffalo has plenty of those. There’s a group of us who are in Buffalo. We’ve got a couple of the girls who are originally from Buffalo, and then a few who live here as well from outside of town. We’re always trying to find things, whether it’s just cooking out or going to the gorge. We go to the gorge a lot to hike there. So I’m just really enjoying my time with my teammates here.”
Buffalove for OneBuffalo
Juron is a leader and one who rallies her teammates together to have fun. She promotes a tightly knit squad, and it works. She is also very much about the concept of “OneBuffalo”, and is a steadfast supporter of the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, and all that there is to do in her new home.
“That was a big part of what I missed about the game,” Juron went on to to say, “and I didn’t realize that until I started being back at practices with the Beauts, just how much I missed that team bond and just having those teammates. I think that’s different from normal friendships. You go through things differently together, and you’re just that much closer. I think that the fans of the sports teams here are just super passionate. You just saw the (NHL) Draft this weekend, and the huge draft party that they had down outside of KeyBank Center. The Pegulas do an amazing job at advertising and supporting their teams, and letting people know who we are. I think that’s a big part about what’s so cool about being here – it’s just fun being part of something like ‘One Buffalo’ that’s just so special to the city as a whole. Some of the girls on the team are already talking about figuring out our first Bills game to get to. We’re already trying to put that on the calendar.”
You have to keep in mind that Juron only played the one playoff game in Buffalo this past season. Besides that though, she has not had a chance to play in front of the Beauts faithful at home. Though oftentimes it feels entirely too short, the NWHL regular season is a journey with highs and lows. It is very different go through the process for the entire duration, but it is something Juron cannot wait to be a part of.
“I’m most excited to finally get the whole, official team together on the ice and in the locker room. Obviously we know a chunk of the players that are going to be there, but there’s still some missing pieces. I’m just a big team-oriented person. I like getting the girls together outside of the rink as well. Just creating those memories and those bonds that really bring a team together. I only got one game at the HarborCenter last year, playing in that sold-out semi-final game against Boston. I’m just super excited for that first game back in the HarborCenter and just going to battle on the weekends with the team.”
Advice for Buffalo Youngsters
We mentioned Juron’s affinity for youngsters. As you can see, she has also traversed a very long path in her own hockey career. From the time she took those first strides at age five to now her second professional season in the NWHL, she has done most of what young hockey players, especially young girls, dream about. Knowing that young fans will be in the crowd of the HarborCenter wearing her jersey and watching her with keen interest, Juron has some advice for them as they follow the path of their own hockey journeys.
“Don’t worry so much about what other people think or who’s in the stands,” she stated. “In terms of trying to get to that next step, just take advantage of your opportunities and just embrace having fun out there. As a whole, I’m definitely more outgoing and spontaneous in nature, and I think that translates into how I see the game and how I am on the ice now. You’ve just go to let the things go that you can’t control, and just really focus on being in the moment. Hockey is a lot of fun. We lose that aspect of the game when you’re trying so hard to get noticed and to get to that next level. So it’s important just to remind yourself why you actually play the game to begin with.”
Juron goes on to give a coach’s perspective. It is vital lesson for any young athlete to hear and one they ought to adhere to. Furthermore, it is a lesson in life.
“When I was coaching that team last year, a big thing I said to them was that players don’t really realize until – sometimes almost until it’s too late – that the coaches these days are not just looking for the good players with the skills and stuff. They’re looking for the good people too. You need to be a good person too, and not just a good hockey player.”
Getting to Know Your Beauts
What you likely have garnered in getting to know Jordan Juron is that she is affable and upbeat. At the recent Beauts Free Agent Camp she was the most vocal and communicative player out on the ice. In the three NWHL games we have seen her play in so far, she has played the role of the power-forward pretty much to perfection. Juron is big, strong, and attacks tenaciously. When combined with her work ethic, those attributes have seen her capitalize quickly and efficiently.
As in any athlete though, Juron also has a life outside of the rink. She was willing to share some interesting tidbits about herself. Her willingness to share speaks to her character, and also shows her warm nature. Juron treats others the way that she would want to be treated. That is a trait which will further endear her into the hearts of Beauts fans.
“In terms of fun facts, I’m a huge country music fan and I’m often heard in the locker room singing some of my favorite songs, especially to Corinne Buie – we sing a lot together. I also have a Bernese Mountain Dog, Cooper, who I’m frankly obsessed with. So if any Beauts fans have a ‘Berner’, bring them to the rink so that I can play with them. In general it’s important for fans to know, like I said earlier, my generation didn’t have that professional Beaut to strive for, and the female players to look up to while we grew up. And I’m very adamant about this aspect about what our league can provide for girls youth players across the country. I hope to not only be a player on the ice, but also a person off the ice that fans want to be like.”
Buffalo welcomes Juron as its newest daughter. She is a full-fledged Buffalonian that will quickly win the city’s collective heart. Buffalo has certainly won hers.