MCHS senior to spend week playing hockey in Switzerland

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Ethan O’Mailia, a Moffat County High School senior, was selected to play for the Colorado Ski Country Selects youth hockey team Saturday to April 1 in Engelberg, Switzerland. O’Mailia, who starred as a defenseman for the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team this season, said he is excited to see the difference between how European and U.S. hockey teams play the game.

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Ethan O'Mailia

To donate ...

To donate money to help Ethan O’Mailia pay for his trip to Switzerland, visit www.cscs-selects.... and contribute at the bottom of the page.

Quotable

“I’ve always wanted to see what was different between European and U.S. hockey teams. I think they will be using a lot of finesse, and if there is hitting, I think it will be hard hitting.”

— Ethan O’Mailia, a Moffat County High School senior, on getting the chance to play hockey in Switzerland.

In March 2011, Ethan O’Mailia got the opportunity to skate with the Colorado Avalanche, a moment he described as “a once in a lifetime chance.”

O’Mailia’s play and leadership for the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team prompted his coaches to nominate him for the opportunity.

This year, O’Mailia, a Moffat County High School senior, had the chance to impress a different coach with his play and earn another opportunity for his hockey career.

During a hockey camp at Moffat County Ice Arena, O’Mailia worked out for Bryan Smith, a coach for the Colorado Ski Country Selects youth hockey team that travels and plays in Europe.

O’Mailia was offered a spot on the team, which consists of 17 players, and will be joining the Selects from Saturday to April 1 in Engelberg, Switzerland.

“I have been going to Bryan Smith’s camps since I was 10 because he always puts on a good camp,” O’Mailia said Wednesday. “I had to do some drills for him and if it was good enough in his mind, he would ask you to go.

“I am so excited to go and it will be another once in a lifetime chance for me.”

O’Mailia will join MCHS junior and Steamboat Springs hockey player Jarret Walt on the team.

Fellow Bulldogs hockey player Brenden Spencer was also invited to play, but will not be joining the team.

The Selects will play five games against local Switzerland Junior Elite and Junior Top teams while also taking in local culture during the week.

O’Mailia said he’s excited to experience a different culture, but is most looking forward to seeing how European hockey teams play.

“I’ve always wanted to see what was different between European and U.S. hockey teams,” he said. “I think they will be using a lot of finesse, and if there is hitting, I think it will be hard hitting.”

O’Mailia started playing hockey in Craig when he was 6.

This season for the Bulldogs, he had the opportunity to play as a forward, moving from his usual defensive position.

However, O’Mailia said the defensive zone would always be his favorite spot to play on the ice.

“I just like to be able to protect the goalie on defense,” he said. “And, if the offense can’t get it going, I can help them out, but defense is my spot.”

In Switzerland, O’Mailia said he expects a much faster and precise game.

Passing, he said, will be his greatest contribution to the Selects and allow him to compete with some of the more veteran European players.

“From position play to shooting and just everything, I have improved immensely in the past few years,” he said. “But, passing I think is my strength.

“Not a lot of people can pass right to another person’s stick, and I can’t tell you why I can, but my accuracy for passing is higher than most.”

O’Mailia has set up a fundraising page on the Selects website to help pay for the trip and donations can be made by visiting www.cscs-selects.com/81-ethan-omailia81-ethan-omailia/ and contributing at the bottom of the page.

O’Mailia said playing in a different country and with players he isn’t familiar with has him “nervous, but excited.”

“There are going to be some different playing styles and I’m sure some really good players,” he said. “But, I love the speed and adrenaline of the game. It is addicting and fun and I just love to skate.”

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