Keaton follows family footsteps

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Keaton Ellerby's family tree has roots that go deep into hockey history.

His father, Cal, played for the Calgary Wranglers in the 1978-79 season, a team led by current Hitmen GM/head coach Kelly Kisio.

His uncle, Dallas Ellerby, skated for Calgary, Edmonton and Victoria of the western junior loop.

His 'cousin' -- actually, his father's cousin -- is Jerry Price, a former Calgary Centennial who was drafted by Philadelphia.

His uncle on his mother's side, Bernie Doan, also played for the Calgary Centennials and was drafted by the St. Louis Blues.

Oh yeah, you've likely heard of Bernie Doan's son, Shane -- the Phoenix Coyotes' star captain.

And now comes Ellerby, the next generation, who's spending this week at the national junior team's development camp at Father David Bauer Arena.

"Yeah, there's a bit of hockey in my family," said the 17-year-old defenceman, who lived in Calgary before moving to Priddis and ending his minor hockey days in Okotoks. "It's nice to have a guy like Shane -- I'm really close with him and lived with him a couple of weeks in the summer -- to talk to and get advice from.

"He never got drafted (to the WHL) and went in the first round of the NHL draft. He's a great guy to have around."

Though a rearguard and not a scoring power forward, Ellerby and Shane Doan have plenty in common. Both went unclaimed in the WHL's annual bantam draft. Both went on to play for the Kamloops Blazers.

And, if all goes well, both may be first-round NHL draft choices.

He may not turn 18 until November but Ellerby is somewhat of a testament to perseverance. When the WHL squads claimed their talent in the spring of 2003, Ellerby -- now 6 ft. 4 in., 185 lb. -- didn't get the call.

"I was about 5-8, 145 pounds. I was tiny," he recalled of being 14 years old. "By the end of the summer when I was 15, I grew to about 6-2. Then I went to camp the next year and made it as a 16-year-old."

But don't peg the teen as simply an imposing figure. There's a reason he's being tagged as a likely first-rounder in the 2007 draft.

Even with his height, Ellerby is an excellent skater. His biggest flaw is size, not height but weight.

"I'm still growing, so it's still hard putting weight on," he said.

"It's frustrating trying to put weight on, eating as much as you can and having nothing happen. But it'll come. As soon as I stop growing, the weight will go on, so I've just got to be patient."

Besides, it's not hard to wait when so much you desire is attainable and there are so many great things happening during the journey.

After all, Ellerby has twice played for Canada at world under-18 tournaments, has a chance to play in the next two world junior tournaments and has the NHL draft on the horizon.

"It's a huge honour and very exciting just to be here," he said. "The past two years watching these guys win gold has been awesome to watch. To have a chance to make the team is a huge honour."


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