Colten Ellis of Whycocomagh, N.S., broke one QMJHL record over the weekend and is on the verge of breaking another.
When his team, the Charlottetown Islanders, beat the Cape Breton Eagles 4-0 on Sunday at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., Ellis registered his 18th QMJHL shutout, more than any other goaltender in the history of the league.
"It was pretty special because it obviously wasn't something I had my sights on when I came into the league," said Ellis. "Even coming into this year I don't even think I knew what the record was."
The 20-year-old now has seven shutouts this season and needs just one more to break the league's single-season shutout record, which is currently held by six goalies, including longtime NHL star Roberto Luongo.
The shutout over the weekend was extra sweet for Ellis because his record-breaking night came in Cape Breton, where Whycocomagh is located.
"I had lots of family and friends in attendance," said Ellis. "Every time we play in Cape Breton I feel it's like a home game for me."
Ellis spent the majority of his junior career in Rimouski but was traded to Charlottetown to replace longtime Islanders goalie Matthew Welsh, now at Saint Mary's University.
Ellis has had an outstanding season and is the league leader in goals-against average, save percentage, wins and shutouts. But the St. Louis Blues draft pick — Ellis signed a three-year deal with the Blues three weeks ago — is quick to praise his defence.
There are three more Nova Scotians on the Charlottetown blue line. Ellis said Noah Laaouan and Oscar Plandowski of Halifax, and Sean Stewart of Antigonish have all been key players in the team's success this season. Stewart played midget hockey with Ellis in Cape Breton.
The Islanders have been head and shoulders above everyone else in the QMJHL Maritimes division this season. With 27 wins in 31 games, they also have the best winning percentage in the entire league.
"Being able to join this team was pretty awesome for me," said Ellis. "I definitely knew that they would contend and were looking to make a run for the championship, and so far it's been a great year."
The 2020-21 season has been an unusual one to say the least. Quebec-based teams cannot play in the Maritimes due to COVID-19 restrictions. All three Maritime provinces have been impacted by ongoing restrictions that postponed many games and backed up the league schedule.
The QMJHL has yet to announce its playoff plan. The season is expected to continue for several more weeks, with playoffs expected to start some time in mid-to-late April. It's still to be determined if there will be a Memorial Cup championship tournament played. The Ontario Hockey League has not played any games yet this season, but a startup appears close.
While Ellis has had an outstanding junior career, he may be best known for a historic win that came four seasons ago. At the 2017 Telus Cup, the national midget hockey championship, Ellis led his Cape Breton West Islanders to the gold medal game in Prince George, BC.
In the championship game he made 43 saves, including 22 in the third period and a breakaway save in overtime to lead his team to victory. It was the first time a Nova Scotia team won a national midget hockey title.
"For us to go out there and do what we did, it was pretty incredible," said Ellis, who said he remains in contact with many of his old teammates. "Especially for me coming from a small town in Cape Breton."
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