It’s the type of play the Edmonton Oilers are hoping to see from defenceman Ethan Bear for years to come.
In Wednesday’s scrimmage, he joined the rush down the right wing, took a pass near the faceoff dot, and wristed a shot past Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen.
Bear was one of three Oilers to play all 71 regular season games in 2019-20. He earned a spot on the team after a summer of newfound dedication to conditioning and fitness. He held steady with that approach during the pause for the pandemic.
“I still had that same mindset, to prove myself everyday. When I was back home, I was very fortunate to have a training facility,” Bear said. “I grinded everyday to stay in shape and work on whatever I could.”
“Bearsy is always looking to learn, always looking to find ways to make his game better — that’s what made him so good this year,” said Darnell Nurse, who became Bear’s usual partner on the blue-line.
Bear, 23, finished the regular season with five goals and 16 assists. A year ago, his future with the Oilers was uncertain. Would he become a regular? Would he live up to the potential he showed in junior? Now it’s hard to imagine the Oilers without him.
Tippett will rely heavily on Nurse and Bear in the upcoming qualifying round series against Chicago. Nurse played 13 post-season games in 2017 while Bear will make his playoff debut.
“I’ve never played a playoff game. I’m going to approach it like every other game. I have my routine and everything. I’m just going to go with that and not think about too much,” Bear said. “Just play and have fun. That’s the biggest thing for me.”
“I think we have a pretty good understanding of where each other are going to be on the ice,” said Nurse. “It gets back to communication and working together, as many reps as we can.”
The Oilers will have Thursday off and be back on the ice on Friday.
Watch below: Some Global News videos about Ethan Bear.