He first noticed it corresponding with spikes in his Twitter mentions after a big goal, hit or fight.
The comments, likes and tags flowed freely for Ryan Ellis after one of the aforementioned hockey plays by the Nashville Predators defenseman. There was just one problem.
He was a professional athlete, and a Ryan Ellis, too. Just not - "that" Ryan Ellis.
Enter Ryan Ellis of NASCAR fame, who races in both the Camping World Truck and Sprint Cup Series. He's the one with the verified Twitter account (@ryanellisracing) and the one who sometimes - and incorrectly - gets credited as a two-sport athlete.
The "racing" Ellis followed hockey, specifically the Washington Capitals, for most of his life prior to his repeated Twitter/celebrity confusion, but after it became apparent the identity crisis wasn't going to go away, he started to check in on the Predators more often.
After the coincidence was eventually proclaimed too strong to ignore, the Preds invited the "other" Ellis to Nashville to take in his first Preds game on Dec. 27 versus the Wild and gave the NASCAR driver a jersey with his name on the back too. Meeting his name twin was just a fun bonus:
"I grew up playing hockey just as long as I've been racing, so to meet someone who I've watched in World Juniors and all that, to see him out there playing, it was really cool to meet the guy who I keep getting angry tweets about," NASCAR Ellis said with a chuckle.
"Nashville is probably the coolest venue of any rink I've been to. I've been to games up in Pittsburgh, Washington, Dallas this year, Carolina last week, and I'm going to Detroit in a few weeks, but the environment here was really cool. I didn't think of it as a hockey town [before], but the crowd was super into it. I had a few friends with me, who had never been to a game before, and they kept saying how stoked the crowd was. It was really cool to see the live music and everything."
Undoubtedly, the meeting will lead to some increased activity in a certain Ellis's Twitter mentions. At least he'll see it coming this time.