Bound for Bulgaria: Dedicated South Aussie youngster set to represent Australia at World Junior Ice Hockey Championships

Bound for Bulgaria: Noah Maley pictured competing for South Australia at U19 level. Photo: Ice Hockey Australia Facebook.

Bound for Bulgaria: Noah Maley pictured competing for South Australia at U19 level. Photo: Ice Hockey Australia Facebook.

High school student Noah Maley lives over 80 kilometres from South Australia's only dedicated ice hockey arena, but that hasn't stopped the talented 17 year-old earning himself a spot in Australia's U18 side, set to compete at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship to be held in Bulgaria this March.

Noah's selection in the national side comes off the back of a number of strong performances for South Australia, for whom Noah has represented at a number of tournaments over the last two years.

His passion for ice hockey began in Canada, where Noah lived for three years, with his Canadian mother and Australian father, picking up the sport at age 11.

Forging an affinity and skill for the sport in hockey-obsessed Canada, Noah has since brought his abilities home to Victor Harbor and has spent the last three years regularly commuting to Adelaide to play and train.

He currently competes with the Adelaide Generals in the national U21 competition and also plays for the Jokers in the local Premier League, all while juggling his Year 11 studies at Victor Harbor High School.

In 2018, he was named vice-captain and South Australia's most valuable player in the National Men's U16 Defris Tournament held in Canberra and also represented the state in the National Syd Tange Tournament in Sydney the same year.

Competing in South Australia's U19 side at the most recent Syd Tange Tournament held in July 2019, Noah helped the state's side go undefeated, before ultimately beating Victoria in the final, to claim Gold for the first time in over two decades.

"It was a pretty awesome feeling winning Gold," said Noah.

"Especially seeing as we won the final in overtime and having been runners up the year prior, it was great."

Noah's performance at the tournament helped him earn his maiden selection for Australia and he said he can't wait to represent the country on the international stage.

"I felt like I played pretty well in the Syd Tange last year and I've had some successful training camps recently which all helped secure a spot in the Australian side," he said.

"It was a pretty amazing feeling, finding out I'd been selected. I'm extremely proud and looking forward to representing the country."

Noah and his Australian teammates which include two other South Aussies, will be departing for a training camp in Sweden at the beginning of March before the World Junior Ice Hockey Championship kicks off in Bulgaria on March 22.

Australia will compete in Division 2 of Group B, facing off against the Netherlands, China, Croatia, Bulgaria and Spain.

"It will be really interesting to see the skill levels of other countries and measure up against them," said Noah.

"Hopefully this will provide me with some further exposure and play a role in advancing my goals towards competing at the professional level."

Discussing his commitment to the sport and his regular commuting, Noah said he couldn't have done it without the support of his family.

"It's a big commitment but it's been great to get my driving hours up," he joked.

"My parents have been awesome and very supportive of me."