Murrayfield JIHC U20 head coach Steven Young says he is proud to see the progress some of his players have made at senior level.
Numerous players from the junior set-up have jumped into the Scottish National League (SNL) over the last couple of seasons with Murrayfield Racers.
Their progression has been plain to see, with the Racers winning plenty of silverware since returning to the ice two seasons ago.
With fewer fixtures at U20 level this season, Young has had plenty of opportunities to follow the progress of his players.
“With Archie Holmes, Harry Elder and Tom Ireland all making their debuts this season it’s been great,” he said.
“It is hugely rewarding seeing Tony Hand slowly introduce them into senior hockey and develop them further. The more competitive training and higher intensity has really pushed these guys on.
“We tend to forget that Ethan Reid and Ross Borwick are also both still aged to be playing U20. Ethan has already represented GB and his class shines through playing alongside the older more experienced players.
“Ross plays at a far higher compete level and I think he is hugely underrated. Fans watching often forget that he is still only a junior age level player.
“With the Racers also signing Garry Simpson and Liam Danskin, both still eligible to play U20, it’s great to see how far these players are developing.”
While Young is pleased to see youngsters make their mark at senior level, it has undoubtedly made things tougher for him this season.
The U20 side were often reliant on U16s stepping up to play and Young admits this contributed to a challenging campaign.
“It’s been great seeing the U16 players getting the chance to play up and compete,” he added. “In years gone by, unless they were the top one or two players, they wouldn’t have had the chances they’ve had.
“I think this has helped develop the less experienced players and given them the confidence that they wouldn’t have had in the past.
“With some of the older players making the step up to the senior Racers team it also left us short on experience.
“It’s been a tough end to the season for everyone and I’m looking forward, if given the chance again, to be coaching the new U18 age group team next season.
“I think we have a great looking team with the younger players moving up and I think the league will hopefully be more even throughout.
“It’s a pity that we haven’t been able to have our final awards night and thank the players playing their last junior season with the club.
“Mark McCartney, Fraser Lee, Dylan Ritchie and Lewis Melrose have all played their last junior games and I would like to wish these guys all the best in wherever they choose to play next year.
“I hope they have enjoyed their time at the club and I’ve certainly enjoyed being part of their coaching team over the years at Murrayfield.”
(Image permission: Derek Black)