Two stars of the CCHA have decided to forgoe their remaining years of eligibility to sign contracts with NHL teams.
Nebraska-Omaha goaltender Dan Ellis has decided to forego his senior year of eligibility with the Mavericks to sign a professional contract with the Dallas Stars while Ohio State forward Ryan Kesler has decided to forgoe his final three years of eligibility to sign with the Vancouver Canucks.
“We are very excited for Dan and we think he has all the tools to excel at the next level,” UNO head coach Mike Kemp said about Ellis. “Having guys like Dan Ellis mature and develop in our program is very gratifying. We wish him the best.”
Ellis, a 2nd round pick of the Stars in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, leaves UNO with a 53-50-12 career record over 118 games with a 2.69 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.
The Orangeville, Ont. native recorded seven shutouts in three years with the Mavs and holds every goaltending record at Nebraska-Omaha.
In 2001-2002, Ellis was the NCAA Division I saves leader with 1,098 saves. He earned CCHA All-Rookie team honors in 2001 and CCHA All-Conference second-team honors in 2002.
Ellis will report to Stars training camp, which begins on September 12 in Vail, Colorado.
The departure of Ellis leaves UNO with only one goaltender with collegiate experience. Senior Brian Haaland is 2-2-0 in nine career games with a 3.47 goals against average and a .888 save percentage. Nebraska-Omaha will also have redshirt freshman Kris Tebbs to contend for goaltending duties.
Kesler, the Buckeyes’ George Burke Most Valuable Freshman last year, played in 40 games with the Buckeyes, posting 11 goals and 20 assists for 31 points to rank fourth on the squad. He received CCHA All-Rookie Team honorable mention accolades and was a three-time league rookie of the week. Kesler competed for the United States at the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championships, earning player of the game honors against both the Czech and Finnish teams. He ranked second on the U.S. squad with seven points in the tournament.
“We’re sorry to see Ryan turn professional after his freshman season,” John Markell, OSU head coach, said. “We wish him good luck in his career.”
Kesler was selected by the Canucks in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft with the 23rd overall pick.