EdmontonOilers.com is checking in with Oilers players and prospects in our Roster Reboot series as they discuss their summer activities and gear up for the 2019-20 season.
EDMONTON, AB - Ethan Bear is, at the moment, an Edmontonian.
But Bear will always be from Ochapowace, SK.
It's his hometown and it's the site of the Ethan Bear Hockey Skills Camp, where members of the 2016-17 Seattle Thunderbirds - who hoisted the Western Hockey League's Ed Chynoweth Cup that season - converged in July to help out their friend and former blueliner organize and operate the annual program.
Video: AUDIO | Ethan Bear Interview 08.21.19
"It's something I really care about," Bear, speaking via phone, told EdmontonOilers.com. "It's a way for me to give back, I guess, and just an excuse to be with the guys as well."
Ochapowace Nation is a remote and picturesque environment, with the community children eager to learn from their local hero and his hockey pals. Bear and his former teammates - including New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal - provide mentorship, guidance and on-ice coaching to the community then find time to alleviate the stress that accompanies being a competitive athlete by partaking in Indigenous traditions.
"It's a very beautiful place and a spot where you can really relax, breathe and just enjoy yourself," Bear said. "It's sticking to my roots. It's who I am and it's helped me get to where I am today.
"It's a blessing having the guys come out. We do a sweat and a ceremony for healing and for protection. It's just good medicine to heal and to make sure everyone is safe and protected. That's really special and important for me."
Bear is hoping the ceremonies help ward off injuries in the new season. The defender felt held back in '18-19 season despite appearing in 52 games.
The 22-year-old notched six goals and 31 points during the regular season, with Bakersfield clinching the Pacific Division title with a 42-21-3-2 record, then added a pair of goals and assists in eight playoff games over two rounds.
Now, the 2015 fifth-round selection (124th-overall) is focusing all his energy to his off-season training. Bear moved in with former Condors forward and Albertan Evan Polei in June and has been working out with local Oilers players and prospects such as Kris Russell, Matt Benning and Tyler Benson since.
"We use weights, we do fast-twitch, a lot of track stuff and a lot of mobility," Bear, detailing the group's exercises, said. "If it's a Monday or Tuesday, we'll go on the ice after. Thursdays and Fridays, as well, for an hour. We do skating stuff and edge work. Then we do shooting stuff and a lot of hands and other skills.
"We kind of hit it all here and I'm just trying to take advantage of that."
Video: Bear extends the Condors lead 05.08.19
The added benefit is getting a glimpse of what it's like to be a journeyman in the field.
"I'm just trying to be a professional," he said. "Make sure I'm showing up for work every day and taking care of my body. Making sure I'm eating right. Things I didn't do in the past, I'm just making sure I'm doing all the right things so there are no excuses."
After the Condors took a major step forward as a team last season, Bear - like many of his teammates - are looking to do the same individually.
"It was a learning year for me," the rearguard added. "I got to grow as a person and as a professional. There's a lot to learn and a lot I didn't know… I want to make the big club, right, but it's day-by-day. There's nothing I can do right now to prove myself other than working hard and making sure that I'm ready when camp comes.
"I'm just going to keep that up and you never know what can happen."