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Hobbema Hockey Tyke to Bear Flag at New Year’s Eve World Junior Championships

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Ethan Smallboy has a big hockey heart. The eight-year-old lives and breathes hockey, says his father, and keeps his grades up so he can continue playing.

This is no small feat given his world: He is growing up on the violence-plagued reserve of Hobbema, where at least two shootings, one of a five-year-old boy, occurred in 2011.

Such violence, however, is but on the periphery for Ethan: He has been chosen to bear the Canadian flag for the country's hockey team at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve.

"I'm gonna be on TV," he shyly told the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, adding that for him, hockey is about the fun of shooting and scoring, not to mention scooting around the ice, which he does whenever he's not eating, sleeping or studying.

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The strong defenceman has been skating since he was three and plays for the Maskwaci Atom 1 hockey team, according to QMI news agency.

He and his dad, Sheldon Smallboy (single parent to Ethan and two sisters), have been in Edmonton since just before Christmas so Ethan can rehearse his big moment. On December 31 he will skate across the ice bearing the Canadian flag before the Czech Republic's game against Finland at Rexhall Place.

Ethan's ultimate dream is to play for the Oilers in the NHL, QMI said, in hopes of matching the fame of his idol, the NHL's Sidney Crosby.