The Hamilton Bulldogs opened their 2013-14 AHL season with a thrilling 3-2 win over the St. John’s IceCaps back on Oct. 11. It was the ideal way for the ‘Dogs to get their season off on the right foot. Alas, not the same could be said at the time for one player in particular – defenceman Morgan Ellis.
Ellis, who appeared to be in head coach Sylvain Lefebvre’s doghouse to start the season, watched, not from the bench with his teammates, but rather from the press box as a healthy scratch. It was a tough way to start the season for the former Cape Breton Screaming Eagles captain and Montreal Canadiens prospect, drafted 117th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Ellis admitted that after training hard in the summer, it was difficult not being in the Bulldogs lineup to start the season.
“You can’t dwell on it, you just got to keep working hard,” said Ellis. “I find when you work hard, things don’t go unnoticed and you’re only going to get better.”
Ellis’s days watching from the press box would not last long, however, after earning a spot back in the Bulldogs lineup. “Fortunately I made my chance when I got in the lineup and I’ve been playing pretty well since,” said Ellis.
Since getting back into the lineup, Ellis has been a mainstay on Hamilton’s blue line and has a team-leading plus-minus rating of plus-9. One of Ellis’s partners on defence this season has been Nathan Beaulieu, who has since been called up to the Montreal Canadiens. Prior to the call-up, Beaulieu acknowledged Ellis’s stability on defence and how it has benefitted his own game.
“I like playing with Morgan, he’s more of a defensive-minded kind of guy so he lets me free-wheel a little bit more,” said Beaulieu. “I feel more comfortable joining the rush or skating the puck up the ice with him there because he’s very reliable in the D-zone.”
Bulldogs head coach Sylvain Lefebvre says he’s been impressed with Ellis’s ability to overcome adversity this season.
“To do what he did shows a lot of character, a lot of determination,” said Lefebvre. “He should be a strong example to a lot of those guys in the locker room and all the credit gets back to him.”