Thunder’s O’Marra Welcomes Chance To Compete

By Brian Compton Staff Writer

At age 20, Ryan O’Marra has been through quite a lot already in his career.

He’s been a first-round draft pick. He’s been signed by the team that drafted him, the New York Islanders. He’s even been traded.

Most recently, the two-way center was reassigned to the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder. O’Marra, who was dealt by the Islanders to the Edmonton Oilers in February as part of the Ryan Smyth deal, is looking at the move as a way to get his game on track.

He scored twice in his first ECHL game, helping the Thunder earn a 4-0 win over the host Phoenix Roadrunners Oct. 24. The 15th overall pick in 2005 admitted the transition to Stockton wasn’t so difficult, given the relationship with some of his teammates from Edmonton’s training camp.

“There wasn’t much of an adjustment period,” O’Marra said. “I knew a lot of these guys prior (to being reassigned), just from camp and whatnot. I’m actually living with (Thunder defenseman) Brian Lee in one of the houses here. It’s been a very easy adjustment.”

Stockton coach Chris Cichocki has been handed the task by Oilers’ management to help O’Marra’s development. O’Marra played in only three games for AHL Springfield prior to his reassignment, watching five more from the press box.

“There has been movement almost on a weekly basis with Springfield,” Cichocki said. “Last year, our lineup was pretty well set. They just didn’t watch him sitting in Springfield. They wanted him playing. He’s played a lot the first two games here, and he’ll continue to play a lot. It’s the best thing for his career.”

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