World Jrs

Ellis looks to crack top four among Team Canada's defence

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TSN.ca Staff
12/13/2009 1:59:45 AM
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A year ago, team Canada found themselves on the brink of elimination in the semifinals of the 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, leading to one of the most dramatic finishes in Canadian hockey history.

While Jordan Eberle scored the desperation goal in final moments of the game, it was defenceman Ryan Ellis who made two critical plays at the blue-line to keep the puck in the offensive zone, which gave Canada a chance to tie and eventually come away with a shootout victory. 

"Ryan kept the puck in twice if you watch back through that replay," explained head scout Al Murray.

"It was a great moment," recalled Ellis. "I think I was a small part of all that, but it was good to be on the ice when we did that."

After being selected 11th overall by Nashville in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, there are some scouts who believe the 18-year-old Ellis  already has the skill set to run an NHL power-play, something he will get to showcase once again as a member of team Canada.

However, Ellis wants to prove he is more than simply a one-dimensional specialist, and that he is more than ready to handle big minutes at even-strength against the world's top young players.

"That's what everyone wants, they want to be the best they can be, and used to their capabilities," admitted Ellis. "Personally I think that's what I want. I want to be a top four guy."

In his second year with the Canadian squad, the 5'9", 176-pound Ellis will face plenty of competition, as he enters camp with a roster full of more prototypical shutdown defencemen.

"I think I've got it up to a level that should be able to compete at this level, defensively strong enough," said Ellis. “I just want to prove that at camp and then hopefully I can show them in the few exhibition games and really work into that role."

"I thought he played well last year. I thought he fit in well," said head coach Willie Desjardins. "There were times he played in the regular five on five shifts, so I would expect him to be a better player this year."

A wrist injury suffered during training camp, set Ellis back earlier this season, as he tried to play through the pain, despite the fact he could barely shoot the puck. The result saw him go 17 games without a goal.

Ellis figures the wrist is at about 80 percent right now, and hopes it will be close to 100 when this year's tournament starts. Whether that has an affect on his attempt to crack the top four, will become clear over the next few days.

- Written with files from TSN's Ryan Rishaug

Ryan Ellis (Photo: Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)
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