Newcastle Northstars young gun Ethan Hawes has the ice hockey world at his feet.
That’s the opinion of general manager Garry Dore, who possesses a good eye for up-and-coming talent.
With the teenager returning to the Hunter fold in 2021, the GM is confident we’ll see more of Hawes, most likely on the international stage, in years to come.
“Ethan might have an accent, but his parents are Aussie, he played juniors here and we’re excited to have him on deck this season,” Dore said.
“Firstly, because he’s a Wangi Wangi/Newcastle lad and, secondly, he’s a great find.
“His mum and dad were transferred to the United States, so he went with them and progressed his [ice hockey] skills there to a junior A level.
“Which, for young fellas, is where you want to reach before you go onto pro.
“However, due to COVID-19, they obviously had a terrible time last year – they didn’t play much at all.
“So, Ethan was very anxious to get back here and get a season in.
“Now, he can prepare for his North American stint in September-October.”
Dore said Hawes would use the 2021 McCormack Cup, a modified competition with COVID-19 impacting the Australian Ice Hockey League, as a “stepping stone” on his journey.
“It’ll be terrific training for him and a fantastic opportunity to test himself against a higher level of players,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“So, that will challenge him – it’s an awesome experience.”
As for the 19-year-old, himself, who recently made his debut for the Northstars, he admitted he was looking forward to “everything”.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t play last year, so it built up the anticipation for 2021,” Hawes said.
“I just couldn’t be more excited to be playing again.
“I started the 2020 season in the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League) overseas and then COVID-19 hit.
“Everything got shut down, so it was a bit of a funky year.
“I’m hoping to get back over there and play either the BCHL or WHL (Western Hockey League) in Canada – we’ll see what happens.”
So, how does a boy from the outskirts of Newcastle find himself in such a sport?
“It’s funny, I lived at Wangi Wangi down the road from my grandparents’ house,” Hawes said.
“I grew up half the time there and the other half in Belford.
“There’s not too much ice skating in the Upper Hunter,” he added with a laugh.
“But, I actually started the sport when I moved to the USA – I love it.
“This season is important for me as it opens the door for a lot of opportunity.
“Since the imports aren’t here, we’ll get more ice time, so there’s added responsibility to do well.
“That’s an exciting prospect.
“And, I know a few of the younger guys on the team – such as Connor Schultz, Mackenzie Gallagher, Alistair Rye, Tom Munroe and Riley Tonks – are keen to take advantage of that, too.
“It gives us a chance to show what we’ve got.”
As for his long-term goals, Hawes is quick to respond.
“I want to make it in the National Hockey League (NHL),” he said.
“I feel I’m on the right path – I just need to keep working hard, one year at a time, one step at a time.
“There aren’t many Australians in the NHL, so it would be pretty cool.”
The Northstars will play three matches this month, with showdowns against the CBR Brave at the Phillip Ice Skating Centre on 19 and 20 June, and the Sydney Ice Dogs at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on 27 June.