When Colton Young ’23 made a no-look pass to set up Alex Young ’24 for a goal against Harvard in December, the play spawned comparisons to the Sedin twins.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin were a legendary tandem for the Vancouver Canucks, playing side-by-side as they went on to become the top two all-time point scorers for the franchise.
Colton and Alex are not twins. But like the Sedins, the Young brothers, who hail from Calgary, Alberta, play with chemistry that cannot be denied.
“The Sedin twins, they were known for always knowing where they were on the ice. It’s cool to be compared to them,” Alex said.
The comparison began during their days of junior hockey, and it has followed them to Hamilton, N.Y., where the Young brothers are integral members of the Colgate men’s hockey team.
Last season, they were the team’s top two scorers, with Colton finishing with 32 points and Alex with 31. After 24 games this season, Alex leads Colgate in scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists.
While Alex and Colton often play on separate lines to fill gaps caused by injuries, they’re together on the power-play.
In a 5-3 win over Merrimack on Oct. 22, Colton made a backward between-the-legs pass to his brother, who fired a one-time shot for a power-play goal.
Alex Young (center) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Harvard. The duo connected again in a 6-4 win over Harvard. Alex would go on to finish with a hat trick.
“It’s a lot different playing with your brother than with a teammate just because we’ve played together before,” Colton said. “We know each other. We know what each other is thinking.”
Head Coach Don Vaughan has seen countless players enter his program in his 29-plus years behind the Raiders’ bench. But two brothers on the team together is rare.
It happened only once before with Tyler and Tyson Spink. The twins, who graduated in 2016 and are now playing professional hockey in Europe, played with an almost sixth sense when they were together. The Youngs have displayed a similar connection, Vaughan said.
“When they play together, they really complement each other,” Vaughan said. “They are skilled players who can create offense, but they do it in different ways, which is fun to watch.”
Vaughan described Colton, a center, as a north-south player who uses his speed and ability to separate himself from defenders. It has made him adept at creating breakaways.
Alex, a right winger who also plays center, is more of an east-west player who creates time and space, cutting back and forth and getting around defenders.
Alex and Colton have two younger sisters and a younger brother. Their father, Lindsay Young, is a hockey fanatic who introduced the sport to his children as soon as they were old enough to wear ice skates.
Every winter, Lindsay flooded the backyard, turning it into an ice rink. At night, Christmas lights were used as lamps. Having their own personal rink, the Youngs learned to play hockey, with dad as their teacher.
Colton Young on a breakaway during Colgate’s win over Harvard in December. Lindsay coached Alex and Colton until they were 11 or 12. Afterward, the Young brothers started playing organized hockey, working with different coaches.
Their skill was obvious from an early age, and it allowed both brothers to play for the Canmore Eagles, a team with the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). Alex was 16 when he joined the Eagles, while Colton was 18. They lived with host families.
While playing in Canmore, they caught the attention of Dana Borges, Colgate’s associate men’s hockey coach.
Borges has spent extensive time in the Alberta league, looking for talent, making connections, and turning Colgate into a household name, Vaughan said.
“Now when we enter a rink in the Alberta league, our reputation precedes us,” Vaughan said.
As a result, Colgate has found exceptional talent in AJHL, one of the top junior hockey leagues in Canada. One noteworthy example is Bobby McMann ’20, an Alberta product and Colgate standout. He recently made his NHL debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While playing junior hockey, Alex’s performance also drew NHL scouts. The San Jose Sharks would draft him based on his play in the AJHL.
The Young brothers celebrate after Colgate’s victory over Quinnipiac. But the next stop for the Youngs would become Colgate.
The brothers narrowed their list of colleges to two. But after visiting Colgate, and meeting with coaches, players, and staff, it was an easy decision for the Youngs.
“Once we came here, we immediately knew we wanted to play here,” Alex said. “We decided together. We both signed the letter of intent. Being a Colgate student-athlete has been a really neat experience.”
While the hockey program was a huge draw, the brothers were also excited about the opportunity to study at Colgate, a liberal arts institution with top academic programs. Alex and Colton are both studying economics.
“A big reason we chose Colgate was the academics, how prestigious the school is, and how good of an education you get here compared to a lot of other schools,” Colton said. “And being a small school also has a lot of positives. For both of us, we like the environment.”
Vaughan said he and his coaches were impressed with the Youngs, who have size, skill, and work ethic that made them ideal choices for the program.
“We felt that these two guys were going to be big difference-makers for us,” Vaughan said. “They brought a level of intensity and commitment that really resonates across the room.”
The Raiders recently experienced one of their best weekends of the season, trouncing Princeton 5-0, only to then triumph over No.1-ranked Quinnipiac in a 3-2 come-from-behind win. It’s their best start after 12 games since the 2005-06 season.
In appraising their team, Alex and Colton each recognized a teammate for their performance on the ice.
Alex praised Matt Verboon ’23, who is second on the team in scoring with 11 goals and 13 assists.
“He’s a very skilled player,” Alex said. “It’s been nice to see the success he’s been having.”
Colton applauded the team’s starting goalie, Carter Gylander ’24.
“Any game that we win, he’s always a big reason,” Colton said. “He’s a great goalie.”
Gylander was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings while playing junior hockey. Like the Youngs, Gylander played in the AJHL.
The Young brothers say they’re happy to have chosen Colgate and have had a great experience on and off the ice.
Alex said the coaches make it easy for the players to grow and learn.
“Don knows the ins and outs,” Alex said. “He’s been around for so long that he knows exactly what to say and how to teach players. Dana has also been tremendous. He really connects with the players.”
The brothers say the team has the talent to beat anyone in the ECAC and go on another successful run. Last year, the Raiders defeated Yale and Cornell in the first two rounds of the conference tournament before losing in the semifinals.
“Every year I’ve been here, the team has taken a step forward,” Colton said. “In my first year, we weren’t the best team, but we were still good and won our first playoff series against Brown. Last year, we went far, lost in Lake Placid. This year I feel we’ve taken another step forward. I think we have a great team this year.”