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Ty Young Hones His Craft In the Prince George Cougars' Net

Ty Young was drafted by his childhood team in the fifth round. Now, the Vancouver Canucks prospect improves his game in WHL Prince George.
Ty Young

Vancouver Canucks goaltending coach Ian Clark has compared prospect Ty Young to a "great Canadian wild horse."

"He uses the word 'raw talent' and then...not the best mechanically yet. And he wants to work on that," said Young, the 18-year-old stopper from the Prince George Cougars as he suited up in Canucks colours at the Young Stars Tournament in September. "He says I have the crown jewels to get to that point, so it's pretty cool hearing those words from that good of a goalie coach."

After building his reputation by helping raise the games of NHL netminders like Roberto Luongo, two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, Jacob Markstrom and Thatcher Demko, Clark now oversees the Canucks' goalie prospect pipeline as Vancouver's director of goaltending and head goalie coach. 

He aims to identify and develop netminders with strong natural tools, that he believes he can sculpt into something special. Young is also built like an NHL stopper, listed at 6-foot-3 and 184 pounds.

Even in hockey-mad Western Canada, Young was the sort of under-the-radar prospect that Clark covets. Selected in the eighth round by the Cougars in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft, the native of Coaldale, Alta. got into just six games in the COVID-19-disrupted 2020-21 season — three with his hometown Under-18 squad in Lethbridge, and three with Prince George.

When his NHL draft year began in the fall of 2021, Young didn't initially stick with the Cougars. He found himself back with the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, where he played 17 games. 

By mid-December, he was back in Prince George. Playing behind starter Tyler Brennan, who was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round in July, Young put up a record of 6-9-3 over 23 games, with a 3.50 goals-against average and .899 save percentage.

"I wasn't given too many opportunities at the start," he said. "But when I got my opportunity, I think I took advantage of it."

In January 2022, NHL Central Scouting listed him 21st among North American goalies in their mid-term rankings. When the final rankings were released on May 10, he climbed all the way to sixth. 

But that still wasn't enough to convince Young or his parents to book tickets to attend the draft in Montreal. "I wasn't too sure what was going to happen," he said.

In the end, the Canucks scooped him up in the fifth round with the 144th selection. He joins Clark's prospect group, which also includes Finland's Aku Koskenvuo (137th overall in 2021), now in his first year at Harvard, and Latvia's Arturs Silovs (156th overall in 2019), who has already assumed the starter's role with the AHL Abbotsford Canucks at just 21 years old.

In August, Marko Torenius came on board as a development coach and the goaltending coach for Abbotsford. His mandate includes travelling to work with both Young and Koskenvuo, as well as managing the AHL goaltending.

Since the development camp in July, Young uses Clark's input to try to improve his game.

"His biggest thing is early eyes and movement," Young said. "He really wants me to get faster and a little bit more mobile. 

"All throughout the summer after development camp, I was really working on mobility, doing lots of yoga sessions and stuff to work on that and really focusing on the faster feet. Taking a bit more information on the ice and not being so jittery."

Back with Prince George for the full year this time, Young has been splitting the workload evenly with last season's starter, Brennan. So far, Young is 4-3-0 in seven appearances, with a .907 save percentage and 3.75 goals-against average.

Last Saturday, he threw down a first-star performance. He made 31 saves in a 4-1 win as the Cougars stopped the powerhouse Seattle Thunderbirds' season-opening winning streak at nine games.

Four nights later, Young stopped 36 shots in regulation from the Portland Winterhawks. He added three more saves in the shootout to give the Cougars the 5-4 road win.

Young's hometown of Coaldale is just east of Lethbridge, about 150 miles south of Calgary. But Young jumped on the Canucks bandwagon at a young age, after visiting relatives on Vancouver Island, and is now a prospect for his favorite childhood team.

"My brother and my mom were both Flames fans, so it was a little bit different in the household," he said. "When they'd play, we'd have a little bit of a rivalry, make some bets and stuff.

"It was awesome being able to get picked by them. It's just crazy."

The Cougars' current five-game road trip continues with a pair of games in Spokane this weekend. Brennan got the nod to start on Friday, so Young should draw in on Saturday.

The trip will wrap up next Wednesday, with a visit to the Kelowna Rockets.

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