by Warren Rappleyea
During his three seasons with the Cornwall Colts, Ethan Mulhearn earned a reputation as a tough, hard-working player who was solid at both ends of the ice.
Naturally, Mulhearn caught the eye of Ottawa Junior Senators Head Coach & GM Martin Dagenais, who acquired the center during the off-season. Since moving to Walkley Road, the 19-year old has shown he can go against the opposition’s top line and still provide offense for his team.
“When we traded for him, we knew we were getting a good player, but he has surpassed our expectations,” Dagenais said. “He’s a two-way centerman, who just does all the little things right.”
In his first 22 games for Ottawa, the 5-10, 160-pound pivot has produced seven goals, including a short-hander, and 16 assists, while still playing a hard-nosed style. Mulhearn has cut down on his trips to the penalty box and his defensive reliability has been rewarded with plenty of ice time.
“It’s my fourth year in the league and I’ve gained a lot of maturity,” Mulhearn said. “Now I know what to expect in certain situations. As a result, I’ve learned when to stick my nose out and when to bite my tongue.”
During his tenure in Cornwall Mulhearn showed he can light the lamp, contributing 29 goals over three seasons. However, it was his well-ingrained attention to defensive details that helped make the transition to one of the Central Canada Hockey League’s (CCHL) perennially top teams a bit easier.
“They really stress defensive responsibility here so you have to be a 200-foot player,” he added. “Fortunately, I’ve also been getting the bounces and producing offensively and the coaches have shown confidence in me.”
So much so that Dagenais often relies on Mulhearn’s line to shut down the opposition’s top unit. In addition, the lefty-shooter is often used to kill penalties and to take key face-offs.
A native of Williamstown, ON, Mulhearn stays with his aunt and uncle while in Ottawa. He’s also taking classes part-time at Ottawa University, with an eye on eventually playing in the NCAA or the CIS. While, naturally, also seeking to improve his skills.
“Our practices are interesting,” Mulhearn said. “There’s always four or five coaches on the ice and they’re watching everything, especially the little things, and giving us advice. The expectations are high here and the coaches want us to get better and expect us to get better.”
Dagenais has clearly been impressed. “The way Ethan plays, you can see he’ll be effective in the playoffs,” the Head Coach & GM said. “He doesn’t cheat and does all the little things right. He had a great start to the season, cooled off a bit after that, but now he’s been back to playing the way he can. At his best, he’s arguably our top forward.”
For his part Mulhearn believes the Junior Senators overall skill and camaraderie will help the team as it seeks a third straight Bogart Cup. He pointed to a recent match against the much-improved Kanata Lasers as an example. Down at one point 6-1, Ottawa scored seven unanswered goals—four of them in the third period—to eek out an 8-6 triumph. Mulhearn contributed three assists to the victory.
“That was a big win for us,” he said. “Even though we were down we kept it together on the bench and always expected that we’d come back. It was kind of a crazy game, but it shows what our team is capable of doing.”