Ethan Bear, taken 124th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, is off to a great start to his first professional season. Playing for the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League, the 20-year-old defenceman is tied for the team lead in scoring with two goals and three assists in seven games.
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It looks as though he's jumped right in to playing some big minutes for the team, saying he logs about 21 minutes per night and he's comfortable with that workload. He posted a lot of offensive numbers down in junior and you can see that early on in his rookie season, that's still the case.
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How has the season been so far?
"It's been good. The coaching staff has been good and I really like how everyone works things here. It's been easy for me to just go out and play. I like it."
Who has helped you out the most in terms of making the adjustment to the pro game?
"I'd say everybody on the team and all the coaches. Everyone has made this an easy process. They're not making it any difficult or not trying to reinvent the wheel. It's just been 'go out and play, and take care of yourself away from the rink.' It's been fun, it's been enjoyable."
Who has been your primary defensive partner and how is that chemistry going?
"Recently I've been playing a lot with Dillon Simpson and Keegan Lowe. It's been good. I like playing with Simmer. He's very consistent every night. I have a lot of trust in him when I'm with him. Everyone here makes it a lot easier than I thought. They all do their job on a pretty consistent basis so it's a lot easier when everyone does that."
Has it surprised you how quickly your offence has transferred so early into the season?
"Yeah, a little bit. I'm just kind of working hard and not trying to think of the points or anything. I'm trying to focus on my game and not trying to think about the numbers right now. I'm working on little things like defence and I'm working on getting in better shape and staying consistent with my nutrition and that stuff. I think focusing on all that has allowed for me to when I go out and play, to just go out and play.
"I've been able to create more than I expected and I'm happy with that."
What has been the toughest part of playing pro hockey so far?
"The stronger guys, for sure, escpecially coming from junior. Everyone is a lot older and a lot stronger. They're men. The compete level is basically the same, because everyone plays to win. But the strength is a big factor. Another factor is just eating right. Nutrition is a big part. You're on your own, you've got to cook for yourself. When you're in junior you can take advantage of the billets and stuff. It's not hard, but sometimes it's a little challenging."
How has it been being roommates will fellow rookie Caleb Jones?
"It's been great. We're pretty close buddies. We've been friends for a long time now and we've gone through the same process so it makes it a lot easier."