NORFOLK, VA – Defenseman Michael Young was in Rapid City, South Dakota practicing with the Rush when he got the news he was dealt to Norfolk for Erik Bradford in early November. The news surprised the 28-year-old who knew he was traded, but didn’t know the destination, until he found out later he was East Coast bound to Norfolk.
“The trade in general was a surprise. I didn’t know it was coming and I didn’t know what to expect at all, but I’m happy to be here and playing in Norfolk,” said Young.
Young will be the first to admit being traded is tough, after all, he was with Rapid City for three seasons alongside his wife, Vanessa, who works at a local hospital as a Physical Therapist.
“It was tough. I’ve been there three years and established myself there and so did my wife. She was working at the hospital there. She was there for three years too. It was kind of our home at the time, but hockey is a business. Emotionally it was tough leaving, but getting here and the boys welcoming me here like they have in Norfolk made the move easier,” noted Young who said Vanessa made the 1,812-mile trek to join him in Norfolk.
Following a trade the most comfortable of places for a player to be is on the ice; however; the ECHL’s Western Conference and Eastern Conference differ. As Young put it, “It’s a little faster and a little more skill. Both sides are pretty much even. You can see in the playoffs every year it’s pretty equal. I think the biggest thing is the speed of the game over here.”
When Norfolk acquired Young they also got a defenseman with an offensive mindset. The University Of Nebraska-Omaha alum admits he has a touch of offensive flare.
“I’ve always had a little bit of it. I’ve always been told to keep it simple and try and play both ways and be a full defenseman. If you want to play offensive you have to play defense. The offensive part of the game just happens. I try to do what I can both ways.”
The left-handed shot had a season to remember last year. Not only did he net a career-high 33 points, he also represented the Rush in the ECHL All-Star game in Glens Falls, NY. A huge honor for any player as he put it, “It was a lot of fun. Getting picked escape on that side it was a pretty cool experience and it was nice to be recognized by my peers. I’ve never been to Adirondack or that far east. It was a cool experience in that aspect. The game itself, seeing all that skill there and seeing all the guys, it was pretty cool.”
Former teammate and defensive partner, Rick Pinkston, commented on what Young brings night in and night out:
“With Young, it’s almost a matter of trying to figure out what he doesn’t do. He does everything, he’s a tough guy, he also brings a very skilled game and he’s a do it all type of guy. He can play in any situation and he’s really skilled with the puck, but he’s also not afraid to go into the tough areas.” Pinkston also went on to say, “He has good vision and he’s really talented. He finds the open guy and he doesn’t over complicate things which is what you want as a D partner that’s for sure.”
Living and playing hockey in the southeast has its advantages over playing hockey in the midwest. The weather, the beach and the lack of snow makes playing in Norfolk worthwhile as Young chatted about living and playing in Norfolk versus playing in South Dakota, “It’s way different. There was snow when I left and I was on the beach when I got here. We have a dog, (Luna) and it will be a lot nicer for her to get out. Vanessa grew up in Omaha and we spent a lot of time there and she’s used to big city life. She’s going to enjoy being here and you can’t complain about the beach.”
With Young’s skill set, he’s been a breath of fresh air for Norfolk’s blueline both offensively and defensively.