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Living the dream

by Jen Rollins / Vancouver Canucks
It started with a dream. From British Columbia’s capital to Everett, Washington, and on to Columbus, Ohio, the pursuit of it has carried him.

As a youth skating with the Saanich Braves, Victoria native Taylor Ellington cheered for his home province’s Vancouver Canucks. He idolized the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure, and other Canucks greats like Trevor Linden and Cliff Ronning. Little did he know, one day he’d earn the chance to stand where they stood. And skate in the very house they built.

When former Canucks General Manager Dave Nonis used his 33rd overall pick on the burling defenceman in Columbus, OH during the 2007 Entry Draft, Ellington took one giant step closer to achieving his lifelong dream.

With his recent signing with the Canucks, the dream is all but in his grasp. In his final year with the WHL Everett Silvertips due to age restrictions, his first pro deal couldn’t have come at a better time.

Ellington led all Silvertips defencemen in scoring this season with 32 points (6-26-32) in 69 games and finished second in penalty minutes, with 130 in the sin bin. Aside from the tangibles, the ‘Tips alternate captain brought grit, leadership and passion to the team. Something not lost on Head Coach John Becanic.

“Taylor’s greatest strength is his passion for the game,” says Becanic. That passion paired with his size makes him a formidable opponent game in and game out.

While many early scouting reports compared the Victoria native to fellow Islander, Willie Mitchell, due to his defensive upside, his recent play has drawn more comparisons to a Kevin Bieksa or Dion Phaneuf.

“Taylor’s style of play is best described as extremely physical,” says Becanic. “He has very good feet which allows him to close [in] on the opposition quickly and make good, solid contact.”

That ability to deliver bone rattling contact has made him one of the most feared hitters in the WHL. His development into an offensive contributor has shaped him into an invaluable asset to his team. For the young D-man, his time with the ‘Tips has become the perfect springboard for his professional career.

“Taylor’s development has never stopped during his five seasons with the ‘Tips,” says Becanic.

In 2004-05 Ellington was recognized as the team’s Most Improved Player. This year he walked away from the team awards night as Co-MVP. On top of the team accolades, his resume boasts invites to the CHL / NHL Top Prospects game and the 2006 Canada Russia Challenge. And each year his numbers have improved, the playoffs not excepted.

With the ‘Tips currently in the midst of a playoff run battling the Tri-City Americans, the blueliner has once again found ways to elevate his game. His three assists in two games have him leading all defencemen in scoring again. And when he’s not scoring, his defensive play has quieted the Americans snipers, giving his team a chance at a second round berth.

On and off the ice his example has paved a way to success for his teammates. A voice of reason away from the rink and a pillar of strength on the ice, the young blue-liner has developed into a key team leader. Where Ellington goes, the team follows.

“He assumes the role of having to play against the team’s top line every night,” says Blecanic. “For the ‘Tips to win, Taylor has to be at his best.”

A tall order for the big D-man but one he relishes. For the up and coming D-man, it seems the bigger the stage the bigger he plays. If his upward trend continues, Canucks fans will have a lot to look forward to—as long as they keep their heads up.

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