St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club

Ricky Young gearing up for the dirty work

Hometown ACE Ricky Young is looking to step up his game on and off the ice as the club launches its second season in the MHL
From the Saint Croix Courier, Aug. 18, 2015
Vern Faulkner
St. Stephen
 With the County Aces mere weeks away from beginning
the team’s second season, two things can be considered
truisms.
 First, there’s no free pass for kids with ties to the local
area. Second, local player Ricky Young will be on the team.
Aces general manager Eric Bissonnette has no problem
reconciling those two statements. In fact, he’s confident
that Young will have a solid year, possibly a breakout year.
 “Ricky brings everything that we hope for, in terms
of leadership, commitment and work ethic,” said Bissonnette.
 “He is one of our most devoted leaders, and one of
the most respected in the dressing room.”
 Like many of the rookie-laden Aces last year, Young
struggled to find his role. After leading the Ontario major
midget circuit in scoring in 2013-14, the St. Stephen product
had to endure the learning curve of junior play.
 Moreover, he had to find his style. That he did, and
somewhere around December, local fans noticed a lot
more of Young crashing opponents into boards.
 Simply put, the more physically he played, the better
Ricky Young was.
 Lesson learned, said Bissonnette.
 “We do need Ricky to come in and play Ricky’s game: a
hard-nosed, gritty, power forward.”
 Bissonnette, a professional athletic trainer by trade,
gave every returning player, as well as prospects and draft
picks, a comprehensive training program.
 That program, focusing not just on building muscle
bulk, is aimed at increasing explosive power, endurance
and strength, and it’s a program Bissonnette is confident
will aid Young’s game.
 “He has to be first on the puck, he has to be physical,
and if he does those things right, the points will come,”
said Bissonnette, who cautioned that he won’t measure the
second-year athlete’s contributions by points alone, but in
how he helps elevate others on the team – mentioning top
scorer Curtis Hastings by name.
 “He’s a complement guy, with, perhaps, two more
skilled guys,” Bissonnette ventured, adding that Young can
“fit anywhere from first to third line, and it depends on
what kind of game he needs to play.”
 That versatility, which may not express itself on the
score sheet, is what makes Young such a valuable part of
the team.
 “He can play anywhere, and that’s what we love about
him … he has very good hockey IQ. He makes good decisions.
 His defensive awareness got better as the year went
along.”
 Added Bissonnette, “His biggest thing is to learn when
to go, and when to hold back, because he has one gear: full
throttle.”
 Young, for his part, said he’s been pleased with the
workout program.
 “I’ve been following that, pretty strictly, and the results
seem to be paying off, in terms of muscle tone.”
 Young admitted he’s interested to see how the off-season
training impacts on-ice success.
 In a way, said Young, his junior career seems to be following
a familiar path.
 “Early on, in my midget career, I was not really a first
line guy. My role was really energy,” he said.
 The scoring-first emphasis on his game in the last year
of midget meant less of that physical play. In that, his self discovery
last season was more a matter of realizing who
and what he has to be in order to be successful at the junior
level.
 And that means crashing into opponents more often –
not that Young, 19, minds.
 “It’s a part of my game I really enjoy,” he said. “It’s going
to be a big part of my game, this upcoming season.”
 He said he’s added weight this summer, but also done
more cardiovascular training to build endurance.
 The season’s goals are simple.
 “I’d like to have more points, and I think that’s not
going to be a question. Throughout my career, I’ve always
had more points, through my midget career, bantam, peewee. I’d like to put up more numbers.”
 Young scored 25 points – 11 of those goals – last year.
 He has welcomed his role as the muscle on a line of
skill players – nay, embraced it.
 “I’m hoping to help the guys around me. We want a lot
more wins, and I want to do everything I can to make that
happen.”
 Added Young, “It’s a confidence-booster to know he
has trust in (me), in all areas of the ice, whether I’m power
play, penalty kill, first line, third line … it feels good to
know he’s comfortable with me in all situations.”
 The Aces training camp begins next week. The team’s
first exhibition game is slated for Aug. 30, a 4 p.m. start
against the Summerside Western Capitals.