Valley native Young one of ASU’s inaugural NCAA captains
The official attendance figure may have checked in at a raucous, mostly maroon and gold clad 6,396.
But let’s not fool ourselves here.
On Oct. 3, at 7:17 p.m. local time, on a most historic night in Glendale, it would be healthy to wager that one particular group of about two dozen Arizona State University fanatics probably came closest to bursting the Gila River Arena decibel gauge.
That’s the moment, not far into the first period, when Cave Creek’s own Jordan Young scored his first goal of the 2015-16 season in the same building – on the same ice – in which his childhood heroes skated for the Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes’ NHL franchise.
“That’s the biggest arena I’ve ever scored in, for sure,” said Young, whose goal came in an 8-1 win over the University of Arizona’s ACHA Division I team. “And to do that in the first game of our first (NCAA) year, it felt good to get it out of the way, but it was also cool to have everyone there supporting me and giving me that special moment to talk about after.
“Just thinking about how we used to go to these games together watching these other guys play, and now they’re in that spot watching me – it just felt like I made all the right decisions (in coming to ASU three years ago) after getting to play in that game.”
Young, who attended Cactus Shadows High School and grew up a Phoenix Firebird at Tempe’s Oceanside Ice Arena, isn’t just a local kid playing for the Sun Devils’ newly-minted NCAA Division I hockey program. He’s also a captain – an honor bestowed on him by the program’s coaching staff, and blessed by his more than 30 trailblazing ASU teammates.
“It’s unreal,” Young said. “Being a hometown kid makes you respect the role and the honor so much more.”
Young is actually one of three Sun Devils who are simultaneously wearing the captain’s ‘C’ this year, rather than the oft-traditional scenario of one captain and a couple of alternates. ASU head coach Greg Powers elected to have his two longest-serving players, forward Liam Norris and Young, as two-thirds of his captaincy.
The third captain is Garrett Peterson – a new Sun Devil, but not one without high-level NCAA D-I experience after playing 41 games over multiple seasons with Hockey East contender Notre Dame.
“I couldn’t think of two better guys,” Young said. “Liam has been one of my best friends since I got here. He’s the only guy who’s been here longer than me. We were able to fight together to get all this happening. And then Peterson comes in with all his experience to help pave the way. It really kind of all fit together perfectly.”
For the locally-trained Young, being a captain is hardly a new experience. He was an ASU alternate captain during the program’s last two seasons as an ACHA D-I power and during last year’s World University Games, he captained a United States squad that included six of his 2014-15 Sun Devil teammates. He also served as captain of the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League before returning to Arizona in 2012 and enrolling at ASU.
Young said that with the new season, he’s hoping to remember to take in everything that comes with bringing ASU to college hockey’s highest stage.
“It’s always hard, no matter what the situation is, to kind of stop and appreciate the exact moment you’re in,” Young said. “I think it’s more of just making sure you’re enjoying every moment you’re in. There’s going to be so many firsts this year and I think those are all just constant reminders of what we’re getting to accomplish.”
Liam Norris (left), Garrett Peterson (right) and Cave Creek native Jordan Young (center) are ASU’s three captains for Sun Devil program’s inaugural NCAA Division I season. Photo/Sun Devil Athletics
— Brett Fera