Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blueland Guest Goalie: Dan Ellis

Well the Cup has been won and the 2009-10 NHL season is over. That makes me very sad, but I have the summer programing here to keep me busy! We are kicking off the summer with our first installment of "Blueland Guest Goalie." To be selected for this feature, a goalie simply had to come through Blueland, not necessarily play.

Dan first came on my radar when I went to Nashville to watch them play against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the Stanley Cup Play Offs in 2008. We called him Cracky McCrackster because he just couldn't be still. All during the time outs he was doing a little dance in the corner.

Apparently the crack dance did a lot of harm that season. Dan would get so dehydrated that sometimes they had to give him IVs during the intermissions. Sometimes he would lose up to 13lbs a game! That summer he went to the Gatorade Sports Science Center (I didn't even know that existed!). They tested his sweat! They determined that he wasn't eating enough for breakfast on game days. He went from eating a muffin and coffee to eating a full breakfast of bacon, eggs and waffles. The problem seems to be remedied! It IS the most important meal of the day!

So let's learn about Daniel Ellis! Dan was born on June 19, 1980 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Being a good Canadian boy, Dan started skating at about the age of 3. His dad was the head of the minor hockey association and also in charge of the equipment, so Dan had his pick of the goalie equipment. His team won the championship 4 years.

Unfortunately, things weren't going as well at home. Dan says there was a lot of fighting and times were tough for him and his brother.

Dan's parents divorced when he was 11 and when he entered high school he began making some poor choices. The whole "hanging with a tough new crowd" thing. Okay this is unprecedented on this blog and I would think it would NEVER happen again...but please enjoy this video COURTESY OF THE 700 CLUB (that's a first!)

So Dan is down with JC! I'm glad Dan found beliefs that bring him peace, health and success!

Along with Dan's life, while in high school his hockey was going down the crapper. His dad, who had become a Christian, recognized that Dan was having some issues and sent him to a Christian Hockey camp for the summer.

With his life back on track, Dan was hoping to get his career going. He didn't have a lot of hope as he had no scholarships rolling in and no major-junior teams were accepting him. In a move that Dan describes as "his last kick at the can," he went to Omaha, Nebraska to play for the junior team, the Omaha Lancers. Dan didn't expect much from it and thought it would be a good opportunity for him to see the United States before he got a job. Fortunately, he was wrong!

While with the Lancers, Dan put up impressive numbers. Within a month of playing with the Lancers, he'd been offered a scholarship from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Dan played in 55 games posting a SV% of .925 and a GAA of 2.25. Dan was named the USHL Goaltender of the Year, Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Star after leading the USHL in wins (34), minutes played (3,274), shutouts (11) and GAA (2.25) with Omaha in 1999-00.

Dan's first season in college went well and he put up good stats playing in 40 games with a 2.49 GAA and a .911 SV%. Dan begin to talk to some national hockey teams and realized that he just might get drafted! That is exactly what happened in 2000 when Dan was drafted in the second round (60th over all) of the NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars.

Dan played 3 seasons with the University of Nebraska-Omaha and and ranks among the school’s leaders in games played (118), games started (117), wins (53), shutouts (7) and saves (3,125)

Dan spent 4 years in the minor leagues, mostly in the AHL, playing for the Utah Grizzlies, Hamilton Bulldogs and the Iowa Stars. During the 2003-04 season, Dan spent some time in the ECHL playing 23 regular season games with the Idaho Steelheads and leading them to the Kelly Cup that season. Dan made his National Hockey League debut, and earned his first league victory, on February 18, 2004 when his Dallas Stars squared off against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Ellis made twenty-five saves in the 4-3 win. He went on to say

"It's a dream come true, something you look forward to all your life," Ellis said. "To get a win is an unbelievable feeling."

In 2007 The Nashville Predators signed Dan as a free agent and it was assumed he would be backing up then starting goalie, Chris Mason. Due to poor play by Mason, Dan took over the job as starting goalie. On October 25, 2007, in only his second career start, his first with the Predators, he won 3–0 against the Atlanta Thrashers making 20 saves en route to his first NHL shutout. Another impressive accomplishment for the season...Dan set a franchise record with a 233:48 shutout streak from the first period vs. Chicago on March 22 to overtime vs. Detroit on March 30. The streak ranked fifth-best in the NHL’s modern era at the time. He stopped 147 shots during that span.

Unfortunately, Dan wasn't as sharp in the 2008-09 season. Posting only 11 wins, in a story that was familiar for Nashville fans, the back up goalie, Pekka Rinne, took over the starter's job. In the 2009-10 season Dan improved with 15 wins, but Pekka was still the starting goal tender.

Dan will be a free agent this year. The Predators have already signed Pekka Rinne so chances are, Dan will be looking for a new home this season!

One thing I love about Dan is the back of his mask. He has two little bears that represent his son and daughter.

Another fun thing about Dan? He is a big Tweeter! You can follow him on Twitter here:



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