Senior Spotlight: Owatonna captain and Vermont commit Ezra Oien shares her hockey story
Owatonna forward Ezra Oien talks about her decision to commit to Vermont and all of the other activities she excels in when she's not on the ice.
OWATONNA, Minn. — Unlike many hockey players in the state of Minnesota, Owatonna captain and senior forward Ezra Oien has no immediate family members that play the sport.
"I actually played basketball ... no one in my family has ever played hockey," said Oien about her experience growing up. But her time on the court was short lived.
"I was way too aggressive, would throw balls too hard, hit girls in the face, cause bloody noses."
After quitting basketball, Oien started to play hockey based on a recommendation from some of her parents' friends, who thought it might suit her better.
At around 5 or 6 years old, she laced up her skates and started playing in casual games and on recreational teams. She was quickly bumped up to the travel squad, and things took off from there.
Oien started playing varsity hockey as an eighth grader for Owatonna and has since put up 142 points in four seasons.
"I'm super driven, super competitive. I like to grind it out in the corners, find dirty pucks in front of the net and clean them up," said Oien on her playing style.
The 5-foot-6 forward was a captain as a junior and will continue her role this year as a senior. She also holds leadership positions on Owatonna's soccer and DECA teams.
Along with that, she participates in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, National Honor Society, coaches youth soccer and is a referee in her free time. She received Owatonna High School's award for Junior Female Athlete of the Year this past spring.
Things weren't always easy for Oien though, as the hockey recruiting process proved to be a tricky situation due to the amount of fifth year seniors in college programs after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oien got interest from various Divison I programs, but most were only accepting one or two players since most seniors opted to return for their extra year of eligibility.
Division III schools made many offers to the Owatonna native, but her goal was to play at the top level of collegiate athletics. That's when Vermont came knocking.
I am extremely excited and humbled to announce my commitment to play division 1 hockey and further my education at the University of Vermont. Thanks to all my family, friends, teammates, and coaches who have helped me along the way. #GoCatsGo💚 pic.twitter.com/yZbitEvGFG— ezra oien (@ezraoien) August 23, 2022
"I never saw myself playing out east ... but when I went out there (to Burlington) I fell in love with the community and the environment," Oien said.
Along with enjoying the coaches and the players she met at Vermont, the academics also played a part in her decision to become a Catamount. Oien hopes to major in something related to biology or the medical field, and Vermont has it's own medical school on campus.
Owatonna wrapped up the 2021-22 season with a 16-9-2 record, but the team has hopes to finish even better for the upcoming year. The Huskies finished first in their conference and Oien hopes to repeat that accolade this year while leading her squad to the state tournament.
As far as personal goals, the senior forward hopes to keep racking up points. Oien has a goal to move up the list of goalscorers in Owatonna girls hockey history, and is only about 50 or 60 points away from the second spot on the all-time charts.
When she's not on the ice or involved in other school activities, Ezra enjoys spending time on her family's surfing boat and hanging out on the water with friends.