by Salim Valji
Just a few years into his hockey career, Ethan Del Mastro has already achieved an honour that eludes most players: winning a medal while representing his province at a national competition.
The 16-year-old is a defenceman with the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Bantam Hockey League. At the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta, Del Mastro took home silver with Ontario’s men’s hockey team. He assisted two goals and had 10 penalty minutes in six games.
The Canada Winter Games are held every four years and showcase the best young sports talent in the country. The significance of the moment was not lost on the young man. “It was a huge honour to represent my province at the Canada Winter Games,” he says. “It’s something that other hockey players would give their left arm to compete in, so to be able to do that was pretty special. Obviously, coming home with a silver medal is still a great accomplishment even though it is not what we, as a team, were hoping for. It still means a lot to me and all the guys.”
Del Mastro’s trophy mantle will likely fill up even more in the coming years. Less than two months following his impressive showing in Alberta, he was selected 12th overall by the Mississauga Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Priority Selection. “The OHL draft was an amazing day,” he says. “It still feels like a dream. On draft day, when you hear your name called, it just doesn’t really sink in until you throw on the jersey. To look down and see the Mississauga Steelheads logo just makes it that much better.”
Del Mastro credits his family for his early success. “My biggest hockey role models growing up were my three older brothers,” he says. “Although they didn’t go on to play professionally or anything like that, they still were huge role models for my hockey career. They helped me work on and develop my skills from a young age. They helped by encouraging and motivating me my whole life and helped guide me through any problems or obstacles.”
Del Mastro is still in high school and is faced with the daily task of balancing school and sports. On any given day, he’ll be writing an English paper and studying for a science exam before lacing up his skates for practice. Faced with an increased workload and more pressure in the upcoming season, it’s a challenge he’s ready to tackle head on. “When you have a big game coming up but you also have a math test the same day, you have to focus on both things and manage your hockey and school to get prepared for both,” he says. “You also have to manage some time to hang out with your friends so that it fits in with your hockey schedule and other commitments. You learn to be organized and set priorities.”