Ethan Anders hopeful for return to form in final WHL season

An injury, at the best of times, can be frustrating for any athlete.

One that comes with little reassurance or answers can play tricks on the mind.

That’s precisely where Red Deer Rebels goalie Ethan Anders found himself during the 2019-20 WHL season, and both mentally and physically it took a toll on the 19-year-old.

Anders suffered a lower-body injury in late November and wasn’t able to return until after the Christmas break, on Jan. 4. An MRI didn’t reveal any damage, but mentally, he had a hard time overcoming the setback.

“It got dragged out a lot. It was frustrating. I got an MRI on it and nothing really showed up. I was going through rehab and it never got better,” said Anders, who is back home in Pilot Butte, Sask. passing the time until hockey comes back, like the rest of us.

“It was frustrating that it never got good enough to play again. It’s good now, it was a frustrating time and I was missing the team… the break was alright, just to mentally reset and come back better.”

He missed road trips, which tend to provide a valuable bonding moment for most WHL players, but mostly he missed being out on the ice, competing with his teammates, in practice or games.

Anders never really did get back on track after his return, with a roller coaster of a year right until the end. He finished with only 35 games played, an inflated 0.888 save percentage and 3.76 goals against average. Both those numbers were well above his career average, which was a 3.09 GAA and 0.906 SV %.

“I was hoping for a stronger year of course, but it was something to learn from and build on,” he said.

“There were times when I would go play a couple good games and then I would show up for a game and I wouldn’t be able to play the way I did before. Kinda let the guys down a bit. The consistency is just something I have to work on this offseason, not to get too high or too low.”

With all that went wrong, Anders is well prepared to turn it around heading into his final WHL season. He’s been working on his flexibility and mobility at home, doing what he can do to prepare for next year.

Even if he doesn’t totally know what the rest of his summer of training will look like, the teen is taking a bit of solace in the fact that the team in front of him will be pretty much the same come opening night next year.

“I think that chemistry is going to really help us early on in the year, because we all know how we play and what we like to do,” he said.

“It’s going to help us at the start of the year when other teams might not be as strong.”

It will be the last chance for Anders, who turns 20 on Sept. 26, to prove he belongs as a starting goalie in the WHL. While that may come with added pressure, his own expectations are already high enough and the netminder is just trying to take it one day at a time, in hopes that he can leave the league on a high.

“Just take it game by game. Just take it from camp and try to earn that starting spot. Every time I’m on the ice be the hardest working guy out there and the best player out there every time,” he said.

“Take it day by day and with an open mind. Have fun and work hard and everything else will take care of itself.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Premier Jason Kenney participated in a livestream on Oct. 17, 2020. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
O’Toole and Kenney sit side-by-side for livestream without wearing masks

NOBLEFORD, Alta. — Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole praised Alberta Premier Jason Kenney… Continue reading

Commuters wearing face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walk out from a subway station in Beijing, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
China’s economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength

China was the first major economy to return to growth

Shipping containers are seen at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal in Halifax on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. Statistics Canada says wholesale sales edged up 0.3 per cent in August to advance for a fourth consecutive month, though at a much slower pace. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2020 file photo the Glass Fire burns a hillside above Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

RED DEER, Alta. — A family-run company providing air-tanker support to control… Continue reading

Los Angeles Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann (33) stops a shot from Vancouver Whitecaps’s Lucas Cavallini during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Carson, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Koreniuk’s goal helps Galaxy beat Whitecaps, snap skid

Vancouver has lost five of its last seven games

In this file photo, Mike Weir, of Canada, hits out of the bunker on hole one during the 2017 Canadian Open at the Glen Abbey golf club, in Oakville, Ont., on Friday, July 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Weir settles for second as Mickelson wins to go 2 for 2 on senior tour

PGA Tour Champions’ stop at The Country Club of Virginia

In this April 12, 2019, file photo, Vasiliy Lomachenko celebrates defending his WBA/WBO lightweight titles after knocking out Anthony Crolla, in Los Angeles. Lomachenko fights Teofimo Lopez on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in Las Vegas. Boxing fans should be thankful. They’re getting a quality fight _ and they’re getting it for free.(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Lopez upsets Lomachenko to unify lightweight titles

LAS VEGAS — Teofimo Lopez dominated early and finished strong Saturday night… Continue reading

Patrons enjoy the patio at the Revival House restaurant in Stratford, Ont., Friday, Aug.10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Robins
Restaurants near virus hot spots weigh safety-vs-profit with locals-only dining

Some southern Ontario restaurants are making the tough financial choice to bar… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam takes part during a press conference during the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020.  As parts of Canada face a new round of COVID-19-related restrictions, Canada's chief public health officer is urging Canadians to continue making a "collective effort" to tackle the pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Chief public health officer calls for continued ‘collective effort’ against COVID-19

TORONTO — Canada’s chief public health officer is urging residents to continue… Continue reading

Employee Sophia Lovink shows off a bag of merchandise in Toronto on Thursday, June 11, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

Most Read