Based on his outstanding play, one wouldn't know Ethan Bear is rookie for the Yorkton Harvest without looking at his birth certificate.
"He's a 15-year-old, but he plays with the poise of a veteran," says Harvest head coach Jeff Odgers. "
The 5-foot-11, 181-pounder, who has notched three goals and 19 points in 21 games, has anchored Yorkton's blue line, appearing to be his squad's top player at both ends of the ice at times.
"He logs a lot of ice with us on the power play and penalty kill," adds Odgers. "And he has a great shot and when he gets a lane most times he gets it through."
Modest and humble, Bear gives credit to his coach for his hot start to the season.
"It has been going pretty good," says Bear on his rookie season in the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League. "Playing against all these bigger guys has made it a bigger experience. Jeff (Harvest head coach) has been helping me through the season a lot."
Bear's immediate impact for the Harvest is no fluke. The Ochapowace, SK., native has worked really hard to develop into the player he is and is becoming. He takes hockey so seriously that he moved to Kelowna, B.C., last year to play for the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, which is a very highly regarded development program with an outstanding track record for having their players selected in the Western Hockey League bantam draft.
"I decided to go to Kelowna because there is an hour-a-day training program there," says Bear who scored 12 goals and 44 points in 40 games at the academy. "I really liked it and you're on the ice two hours a day and training every day. It kept me in shape and helped me through my bantam draft."
Bear's impeccable dedication paid off. He was drafted 25th overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2012 WHL bantam draft.
"Ethan was regarded by my scouting service and a lot of other scouts as the top Saskatchewan defenceman of last year's bantam draft," says Tyler Neisz, owner and head scout of Western Elite Hockey Prospects Scouting Service.
He went to Seattle for their training camp in August. He started off strong, but unfortunately for Bear, he suffered an injury three days into the camp that forced him to head back home.
On his return to Saskatchewan, there were several midget teams interested in his services. In the end, Bear chose the Harvest because he felt he would receive more opportunity in Yorkton because of their lack of depth on the back end.
"There were other teams calling," says Bear. "Mostly I came here for my development. I thought I would get more ice time here than some other places."
Bear hopes he will receive a short call-up stint with the Thunderbirds later this season.
"Three weeks from now they told me they might call me up," says Bear. "That would be really cool."
Bear, who turns 16 in July, is aiming to be a full-time Thunderbird next year in his first year of major junior eligibility.
"That's what I'm aiming for," says Bear on making the Thunderbirds next year. "They say there is a good chance, so we'll see how it goes."
Many among junior hockey circles believe Bear has a strong shot of calling Seattle his new home next year.
"At this point, I believe Bear will go on to play in the WHL and has a strong shot of making their team next year as a 16-year-old," says Neisz.
If Bear doesn't crack the Thunderbirds, the Harvest would love to have him back for a second season.
"I think any coach would love to have Ethan on their team as long as they can," says Odgers. "He's a really good player with a bright future."