Nanooks hockey

A fan celebrates behind UAF's Justin Young after the Nanooks went up 2-0 during first period hockey action against Bemidji State Saturday evening, November 2, 2019 at the Carlson Center. Eric Engman/News-Miner

Justin Young was bothered by shoulder problems during his first two seasons with the University of Alaska Fairbanks hockey team.

His shoulder is fine this season.

“I think this is the first summer in a while that I wasn’t kind of battling an injury or trying to rehab an injury,” Young, during Wednesday’s practice at the Carlson Center, said of his offseason conditioning this past summer.

“Just that, really being able to work on everything and not focus so much on one thing on my body was really helpful.”

His statistics are proof of that.

The junior right wing from Leduc, Alberta, is the Nanooks’ leading goal scorer with four heading into a nonconference series against the Arizona State University Sun Devils at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Carlson Center.

One of Young’s four goals also was the game-winner in last Saturday’s 3-1 win over Bemidji State to give the Nanooks a split of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against the Beavers, of Bemidji, Minnesota. Bemidji State won 4-0 in last Friday’s series opener.

Young scored with a high backhand through a crowd in front of the crease at 8 minutes into the first period. Seniors Kylar Hope (right wing) and Tristan Thompson (defenseman) assisted on the game-winner.

The play started with the Beavers coming up the ice on a 5-on-5 rush.

“They threw it (puck) backdoor and it went into the corner,” Young recalled. “Hoper came into the corner and picked it up and skated all the way down the ice, around their defenseman and around the net.

“He threw it out front and I was just coming down through the slot and I just threw it in.”

Coincidentally, Young’s last game-winning goal came against the Beavers in a 2-1 overtime victory for the Nanooks on Jan. 12 at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.

“I think the big thing with him is he’s always been a smart player, he’s got a good stick. Now’s he getting the net even more,” Nanooks head coach Erik Largen said of Young.

“And he’s a defensive player (forward) and it’s translated to his offensive game.”

The four goals this season are also the total points for Young so far in 2019-20. The 6-foot-1, 186-pounder has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 75 career games for the Nanooks.

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.