When Rogers Hometown Hockey hit Canmore Feb. 10 and 11, a member of the Airdrie Xtreme got an amazing opportunity for national exposure.
Defenceman Nathan Ellis was nominated by the Canmore Minor Hockey Association to take part in the post-game wrap-up segment of the weekly event, where hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Slone interviewed him.
“I was quite excited because I thought they would pick someone playing in Canmore, not someone playing out of town,” Ellis said. “I feel quite lucky to get the experience.”
Ellis spoke about which players he’s modeled himself after, the time he met Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders and how his teammate Keagan Slaney had the opportunity to do a similar interview with MacLean and Slone.
Although it wasn’t his first appearance on television, Ellis said the experience was nerve-wracking, knowing he would have to speak in front of the countless viewers tuning in.
“I’m going to remember that for the rest of my life,” Ellis said.
He added the experience was positive, as he learns how to deal with media and being on television, something most bantam-level players don’t get the chance to do.
The prospect of meeting MacLean and Slone became more exciting for Ellis as the days counted down. He said the hosts helped him feel comfortable on the air.
“I didn’t really know what to say at first…. (MacLean) was a lot of fun, he is just like he is on TV,” Ellis said. “He was easy to talk to, a really nice guy and has a great sense of humour.
“They told us not to look at the cameras to make it easier for us to talk (during the segment).”
He said the advice he’d give to other young athletes who get an opportunity like he did, is to have fun, don’t be nervous and remember you’re talking to MacLean and Slone, not everyone watching across Canada.
Ellis is in his first season with the Xtreme and his final year of bantam-eligibility. The defenceman said he struggled getting started this season because it was his first time playing with his new teammates, but has found a good fit in the locker room and is helping the team become a dominant force in the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League.
“It was nerve-wracking going into a whole new organization and city,” Ellis said.“As the season has gone on, I have gotten more comfortable with the team. I think I could have helped out more earlier in the season, but now I can help out in the playoffs.”
The rearguard has 11 points, but is hoping to contribute even more as the team gears up for a deep post-season run.