ELMIRA, N.Y. - According to the website www.dictionary.com an enforcer is the member of a group charged with keeping dissident members obedient. Enforcer in the ice hockey context as a physically intimidating or willingly belligerent player who is counted on to retaliate when rough tactics are used by the opposing team.
These definitions describe Harry Young’s role with the Elmira Jackals. Young has more fighting majors than points and is a lawful presence patrolling the play on the ice. But dropping the gloves isn’t the only policing Young has in mind.
“After my hockey career is done I would love to become a police officer,” said Young. “That’s kind of what I do on the ice anyway. As the enforcer role I go out there and police the other players so I think it would be a fitting position for me after I am done with hockey.”
Young grew up in Windsor, Ontario with the same dream many young Canadians have – to become a professional hockey player. Unlike many aspiring athletes, Young possesses a second dream involving a different uniform.
“It is something I have always been interested in,” said Young. “I love my community back home and I just think it would be fitting that I serve in some way. I think it would be a good position for me down the road.”
Young’s affection for his community only grew through the local success he procured during his junior hockey career. Youthful hockey players usually continue their ambitious careers in one of the three major juniors league across Canada. Yet, only a small percentage of those players get the opportunity to play for their hometown team. Young became one of the lucky few when he was moved from the Guelph Storm, who drafted him 75th overall in the 2005 OHL Priority Selection Draft, to his hometown Windsor Spitfires during the 2006-07 season.
Following the 2007-08 campaign the New Jersey Devils recognized Young for his strong leadership ability and high character and drafted him with the 202nd overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
The hometown kid was honored in 2008-09 with the captaincy on a loaded Windsor squad featuring current NHLers Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Andrei Loktionov and Adam Henrique. Young was a steady rock as a stay-at-home defenseman and led the Spitfires to an OHL championship and a Memorial Cup championship. The following season Young returned as captain and led Windsor back to the promise-land, earning consecutive OHL championships and the Memorial Cup championships. The 24-year-old absorbed the effects of his leadership experience in juniors.
“It was huge for me,” said Young. “It was my hometown and was a dream come true. Two years going to the National Championship and be the captain of your hometown team; you can’t ask for more than that.”
Young finished his junior career on top of the world and had to begin the transition into the professional scene. The following year he spent almost the entire season in the American Hockey League with the Albany Devils. The next two seasons were split between Albany in the AHL and Trenton and Kalamazoo of the East Coast Hockey League. Although Young may not put up gaudy offensive numbers there is no mistaking the effort he brings every shift.
Young, who is affectionately known by his teammates as ‘The Sheriff’, has the grit and the size to protect his teammates when the laws of fair play have been broken.
“Well, sometimes the referees don’t exactly do the job out there so sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to police the boys,” said Young.
One of the boys Young protects on a nightly basis is his defensive partner Patch Alber. At first glance the pairing may seem unusual given that Young stands 6-4 and weighs 215 pounds whereas Alber is 5-10 and weighs in at 180 pounds. Yet, the strong chemistry built between ‘The Sheriff’ and ‘The Deputy’ speaks volumes about Young’s willingness to protect his teammates.
“It’s been a perfect pairing,” said Young. “I really love playing with Patch. He gets the job done where I can’t. He is a good puck-moving defenseman and has the wheels to really move out there. I feel that we compliment each other really well.”
Young and Alber appear to be the Jackals’ version of Starsky and Hutch. Young, who is in his fourth professional season, has exuded his leadership while playing alongside his rookie defensive partner.
“As a police officer, as a team captain, or even as a player here on the Jackals you like to bring that leadership to the table,” said Young. “You lead by example and that’s what being a police officer is all about, providing a good example for the community and I think the leadership role has been huge in my career so far.”
‘The Sheriff’ already speaks the language of a police officer.
“I’m just out there to protect and serve all my teammates,” said Young.
But, before trading uniforms and returning to Windsor, Young will continue patrolling the blueline and policing the play as a member of the Elmira Jackals.