Joe Young hadn’t played a single B.C. Hockey League game before he landed an NCAA Division 1 scholarship with the Union Dutchmen.
That is rare thing for a Junior A prospect, more so for a goalie.
“I’d go visit the schools and a lot of them were looking at me, but only a few made offers,” said Young, one of two new faces in the Vernon Vipers’ crease this season.
“A lot of them wanted to see me play junior hockey. Union just came out and offered me a spot without junior because they felt confident in my ability. That meant a lot, plus the school itself I really did like.”
Union, featuring former forward Viper Cole Ikkala, surprised a lot of teams by advancing to the Frozen Four last season. Young is hoping the Schenectady, NY-based Dutchmen are still flying high when he joins them in 2014-15.
“The coaches are really looking to repeat that success,” said Young. “They don’t want to just have one good year and fall off the wagon, and they made it clear to me that they really want to continue to move in a forward progression.”
Young, 18, was ranked 31st among goalies in the final NHL Central Scouting Bureau list after going 9-6-6 with a 2.33 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and three shutouts last season with the Boston Midget AAA Advantage.
Young, 18, entered Viper camp as a bit of an unknown to head coach/GM Jason Williamson, who felt he did enough to usurp returning netminder Danny Todosychuk for the backup role behind Austin Smith.
The Hanson, Mass. native (near Boston) said Williamson’s direct approach had a lot with his decision to try out with the Snakes.
“The way he carries himself helped me commit to this program,” said Young. “A lot of other coaches promised me things that just weren’t realistic. Willy just really made it clear that what I work for and how hard I play (will determine) what I get.”
Young’s Viper debut didn’t exactly go according to plan for the 6-foot-2, 165-pounder. He was shelled for two goals on four shots in a 4-3 loss to the Powell River Kings, and was quickly pulled in favour of Smith.
However, Young is taking the rough outing in stride, preferring to look at it as part of his initiation into Junior A hockey.
“This level is by no means above my head,” said the butterfly-style tender. “In terms of adjusting to the pace of the game, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that.
“The bigger thing for me is honing in on the mental aspect, and being confident in net and playing past the nerves…once I’m able to do (that), I’ll be able to help my team win games.”