Longtime friends, Bear and Ottenbreit pair up on Thunderbirds blue line
KENT, Wash. -- Ethan Bear doesn't know how long he's played hockey with Turner Ottenbreit. He just knows it's been a long time.
"Going back?" Bear asked. "Uh, wow. We've played on a few teams together. I'm not sure when we first started. I don't even remember. I was too young."
Bear guesses he was probably seven or eight years old when he and Ottenbreit first laced up skates together in eastern Saskatchewan.
"Just knowing him so long, we just make a good bond together," said Bear. "Even when we're on the ice we make a lot of jokes, and it makes it more fun for me and I really love it."
The two parted ways when they came to the Western Hockey League. Ottenbreit went to Saskatoon, while Bear headed to Seattle.
But early last season the Thunderbirds traded for Ottenbreit, reuniting the longtime friends.
For Ottenbreit, a familiar face made the move to Seattle much easier.
"Absolutely it did," Ottenbreit said. "I was kind of nervous when I first came here, but (Bear) eased the transition and made it all so much smoother."
They're not only teammates in Seattle; they're also defensive linemates, paired together on the Thunderbirds' blue line.
"Right from day one we've put them together and they really compliment each other," said Thunderbirds head coach Steve Konowalchuk. "Ottenbreit with his physical play and the way he defends, and Bear with his two-way play. Ottenbreit getting him the puck and Bear moving it up. It's been a real good combination for us. "
They lived only a few miles from each other as kids. Now they're more than a thousand miles from home. But, Bear and Ottenbreit are still together.
"It's great. We're best friends," said Ottenbreit. "We lived so close together at home, and then to be here and see each other all the time and be together -- it's awesome."
No matter where the future takes Bear and Ottenbreit, there's nothing that will keep them apart.
"We'll always be good friends," said Bear. "That's what hockey does for you; with anyone on the team. I'm really happy I get to play with him and hopefully more years to come."