By Kirk LuedekeEddie Ellis and Phillips Andover started the season with four straight wins. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)
Despite the disappointment of his Phillips Andover team coming up short against Westminster in a 4-2 contest, Big Blue captain and center Eddie Ellis couldn’t keep a small smile from breaking out as he talked about his love of hockey.
The Burlington, Mass., native wasn’t so sure when his father, Doug, put on his first pair of skates and sent him out at age 4.
“I didn’t want to go out there, but once I was on the ice, I took off and have loved the game ever since,” Ellis said.
Call it a case of father knows best, perhaps. Doug Ellis was a standout hockey and baseball player for Burlington High School in the late 1970s. He played with fellow Burlington product and Harvard star Mark Fusco, the 1983 Hobey Baker winner. The elder Ellis was a goaltender for Boston College from 1978-82 before spending a couple of years in the IHL. Doug has stayed close to the game as a coach (a short stint as an assistant at UMass-Boston) and mentor. His son might have embraced the family hockey tradition, but Eddie strayed from the path slightly by deciding he’d rather wire pucks into the back of the net than try to stop them.
For Ellis and his teammates, the season began with promise on the strength of four wins to open the 2012-13 prep campaign. However, following a 4-3 loss to Milton Academy to open the Flood-Marr tournament Dec. 14, the team has gone 0-5-1 since.
“We got the ball rolling early, which is good,” said Ellis. “But we haven’t found a way to win some of these close games with these more solid teams in the league. This is the first time we’re seeing this level of competition. Some of the games have been close so far, but we haven’t found a way to pull through and get the ‘W’.”
Currently second on the club in scoring with five goals and nine points (he led the club with 19 goals, 43 points in 26 games last year), The 6-foot-2 Ellis is confident that with his large frame and grinding style, he can play a key role in getting the team back on track in the season’s second half.
“Going against top prep schools in the Flood-Marr and the rest of the season, we’ll see some tough teams,” he said. “I’ll be matched up against some top lines in prep school. Obviously, there’s a lot of great players out there and just playing with and against all the players in the league, I think it will make me better throughout the year.”
New England 2013 - NHL Draft Prospects
Top Five for February
1. Adam Erne
RW, Quebec (QMJHL), 6-1, 205 (North Branford, Conn.)
It will be interesting to see if Mikhail Grigorenko’s departure to WJC and Buffalo affects Erne’s numbers. So far, so good. Central scouting graded Erne 12th at midseason.
2. Ryan Fitzgerald
C, Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL), 5-10, 170 (North Reading, Mass.)
He’s just one of those kids who makes good things happen. Ranked 46th by Central Scouting as the Bay State’s top hockey prospect for 2013.
3. Zach Sanford
LW, Middlesex IHC (EJHL), 6-3, 190 (Auburn, N.H.)
An 83rd mid-term ranking by Central Scouting is a nod to this Granite Stater’s intriguing mix of size and talent.
4. Wiley Sherman
D, Hotchkiss (HS-Conn.), 6-6, 210 (Greenwich, Conn.)
Gigantic d-men who can skate don’t grow on trees. At 125 on the Central Scouting midseason list, but has a higher grade from several NHL clubs.
5. Eddie Ellis
C, Phillips Andover (HS-Mass.), 6-2, 200 (Burlington, Mass.)
C, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 6-3, 220 (Greenwich, Conn.)
Yale recruit and former Brunswick star is raising his draft stock with a mix of tenacity and skill out in Ann Arbor. The power forward is underrated no more as the 59th North American skater on Central Scouting’s mid-term list.
D, Selects Academy (HS-Conn.), 6-1, 200 (West Roxbury, Mass.)
Punishing defender and Providence College recruit isn’t fancy, just tough. The 79th-ranked player by Central Scouting gets solid grades across the board.
Jason Salvaggio, LW, Selects Academy (HS-Conn.), 6-0, 190 (Hanson, Mass.)
Brian Pinho, C, St. John’s Prep (HS-Mass.), 6-0, 175 (North Andover, Mass.)
Ross Olsson, RW, Cedar Rapids (USHL), 6-5, 210 (Billerica, Mass.)
Nolan Vesey, LW, Austin Prep (HS-Mass.), 6-1, 190 (North Reading, Mass.)
Will Toffey, D, Salisbury School (HS-Conn.), 6-2, 200 (Barnstable, Mass.)
Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury School (HS-Conn.), 6-1, 190 (Rockland, Mass.)
This article originally appeared in the February 2013 issue of New England Hockey Journal.