Hockey prospect welcomes playoff pressure - Feb. 19, 2014
This weekend, the playoffs begin for the OHA Gold Mavericks of the Ontario East Major Hockey League, and that means a time when scouts from bigger hockey clubs will be keenly interested in who rises to the occasion.
The leading scorer of the league this season – St. Stephen product Ricky Young – wants to be that person.
Young, speaking from Ontario, explained there were two goals outlined for the regular season.
“One of them was for us to finish first, and the other, was that he set a goal for me to finish first in the scoring title.”
Mission accomplished on both counts. The Mavericks finished atop the OEMHL, three points ahead of the Eastern Ontario Mavericks, and Young, at the end of 28 games played, had garnered 47 points, five more than any other. Of those, five were game-winning goals.
“We played the lower-seeded teams last, and that was my chance to, not only get two points for my team ... but for me to get a couple of goals and some assists on the way,” Young reflected.
It was odd, he said, thinking about scoring points, but at the same time, the focus in the stretch drive was not on personal goals, but playing the kind of systems that have made the Mavericks successful.
“We know when we stick to the team game, the points will come. It wasn’t a matter of our line playing more, or being selfish – it just happened to work out that way.”
In the last 10 months or so, Young has also honed his vision for his hockey career. Many talented kids of his age – he turns 18 in March – face the critical decision of whether to try to crack the lineup of a major-junior team, or pursue a spot with a junior A team. Young has opted for the latter, both to keep his scholarship options open, and because it allows him an extra year of development. One thing is certain: his play in the forthcoming post-season is critical to his future.
“My goal is to go really high, in the first round, in the draft,” he stated.
Young he knows the junior A scouts will be watching; they have been keeping a close tabs on his progress all season long.
“This year … I’ve spoken to scouts, coaches and general managers after a lot of games.”
Aiding his case to gain notice from scouts is his solid discipline, as evidenced by a paltry four penalty minutes through the year.
As he speaks a quiet confidence emerges: the playoffs are beckoning – and so is opportunity.
“The better players play better under pressure, and I do kind of consider myself that. I play off the energy in the building.”