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Interview with Michael Ouzas, Linz EHC Austria


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4 Questions with Mike Ouzas 

I spent a month in Switzerland once. The food and coffee culture over there is much different. Unless you have spent a lot of time in central Europe and away from the tourist traps, you might not fully realize it. It’s not the same dramatic cuisine change like eating in China or hardcore sushi Japan, but it’s more the attitude toward it. I actually think Nespresso coffee is how I first started communicating with Mike. I got a chuckle that he brought it up below without prodding.


The Mike I’m referring to above is Michael Ouzas of Linz EHC in Austria. He’s a Canadian pro goalie living abroad. He’s had a very solid pro career and played in the OHL, CIS, ECHL, AHL and now Europe. He also can be remembered for rocking an amazing Hangover mask while a member of the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers. Mike’s been nice enough to communicate with me over social media and agreed to create some content for us about his experiences overseas.


1.    How is the hockey itself different from NA hockey

The hockey in Europe is generally a bit more wide open than in North America. This isn't the case in all leagues but watching games on tv and it's a trend in most. I play in Austria which is a more offensive league as well. The ice is bigger which gives players a bit more time to make plays. It's also less aggressive than in North America. This year in the Champions Hockey League they made some minor penalties an automatic 4 minutes (such as boarding), so that has definitely changed some aspects of the game.


2. Any weird quirks over there about travel, housing.

The travel for us here in Austria is pretty good. We're a centrally located team (Linz) so most trips are day trips. For our apartments, the team takes care of getting places for guys and having the places furnished and set up. Some places are better than others but for the most part they're quite good.



3. What's the biggest culture shock of being there?

I'd say the biggest shock is the language when you first come over. Everyone under the age of say 40 speaks at least decent English now because they all learn it in school. The grocery stores are also much different. They don't have any huge Walmart type stores and fridges at home are small. I typically shop for 2-3 days at a time or the food goes bad. They take a lot of pride in their food quality. Maybe the funniest "quirk" is trying to order a Tim Hortons style coffee as a Canadian coming over here. Not many cafes serve huge coffees. I've definitely been converted to the black espresso/cappuccino style coffees.



4. Anything gear related about your set up?
I did an overhaul on my gear this year. I have always been pretty old school and always behind a couple years when changing gear (using same specs for a few seasons). This year I felt it was time to update to new technology. . I'm happy with the changes I made.
I've been a Vaughn pads, glove and blocker guy my entire life since I was 13. They're a great company and have always taken care of me and my gear. I've had different kinds of pants and chests along the way. The sponsor on my gear is a gas station called Pink.

Pads: I was wearing a flat front "V6" 34+2 pad with an older leg channel that Vaughn has been making me for years. I felt it was time to get something boxier with a modern knee landing. I switched to the Ventus SLR and love them. I wear a stock strap set up and just added an extra Velcro at the bottom of the calf. I also switched to the Lundy loop to keep the pad more snug to my leg. I also added an extra sheet of carbon inside to keep them a bit stiffer.


Blocker: Switched from a V6 blocker to the new Ventus. It's a stock blocker but I added another sheet of carbon inside for extra bounce.

Glove: I've used the same glove for years (5500). Last season I went with the double T and loved it. The new internals they've put in this year being an SLR base are a big improvement in my opinion, but my break and hand position is all the same.



Chest: I've loved the CCM CL500 and have used them for the last 4 seasons. I tried the Premiers and found they broke down pretty quick. This year I went with a V7 body and arms but added the SLR shoulders to add squareness to it. I have beefed up arms and body on it. I found this to be the closest shape and feel to the CCM CL500.


Pants: I've been using Premier Pro pants the last couple of seasons but this year have Vaughn V7. They are stock with a beefed up leg.

Skates: I've been wearing VH with the Bauer cowling for a couple years and switched to the 2 piece VH. I think they are the most complete skate ever. They really make a difference when moving. I have always preferred 4mm steel to the 3mm so these are perfect for me.

Mask: Pro Choice custom mask. I made a switch to these masks about 6 years ago and they are amazing.



Sticks: I use the standard custom Warrior sticks. I've had the same pattern since junior.

If you were not already familiar with Mike and didn’t stop to look up his HockeyDB yet, you should. After hearing that the league is more offensive in Austria, it’s pretty amazing to see that his Save % is consistently around .930. Thanks again for the interview and we will be rooting for Linz!

Give Michael Ouzas a follow via @mikeouzas on IG + Twitter. He shares a lot of good content about music, food, and hockey aka great accounts.


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