The Tech Hockey Guide staff brainstormed potential candidates and settled on our top picks. Through the next few weeks we will break down potential candidates while discussing pedigree as a player and coach as well as likelihood of being Coach Pearson’s replacement. So far, we’ve discussed the Protege, Bill Muckalt; the Thoroughbred, Ron Rolston; and now we take a look at the Young Gun, Cam Ellsworth, former Huskies player under both Mike Sertich and Jamie Russell.
Ellsworth played goaltender for the Huskies in 119 games over a four year collegiate career and another three years in the ECHL, where at one point he split time with current Minnesota Wild netminder, Devan Dubnyk. Following a short professional career Ellsworth moved on to coaching. Since then he’s had two jobs, assistant coach with the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL and his current role as assistant at UMass Lowell.
College: Michigan Tech
Birthplace: Leamington, Ontario
Current Position: Assistant Coach, UMass-Lowell (Hockey East)
During his time as the Huskie goaltender, he amassed over 3,500 saves, a record that holds to this day. He’s one of only four goalies in program history to amass over 3,000 save along with local legends Dave Roach, Damian Rhodes, and Jamie Ram. While all that effort didn’t translate into many wins, the fans sure appreciated when he took the team on his back to steal a few victories during a difficult segment in program history.
After a brief career in the ECHL, Ellsworth took a job with another candidate on our list, Todd Knott while he was head coach for the Musketeers. Knott only coached Sioux City one year before being replaced by Luke Strand. During Ellsworth’s three years in Sioux City, he helped develop seven players that went on to play in the NHL:
- Stephane Da Costa (Merrimack)
- Danny DeKeyser (WMU)
- Max McCormick (OSU)
- Jordan Schmaltz (UND)
- Ryan Carpenter (BGSU)
- Kevin Gravel (SCSU)
- Seth Helgeson (Minnesota)
He also helped develop successful college goaltenders in Matt Skoff (PSU) and Jake Hildebrand (MSU). While the teams he were not the best, they did improve each year, including making the playoffs in his last season, their first trip since 2004-05. His move to UMass Lowell coincided with the River Hawks’ hire of Norm Bazin in the same 2011 summer in which Mel Pearson was hired at Michigan Tech. While Ellsworth was unable to land a similar position with the Huskies, he did find a great position on the UML staff with Bazin and Niagara’s new Head Coach, Jason Lammers.
Ellsworth’s time with Bazin has seen the most sustained success in the history of the River Hawks program. In all 6 seasons, UML has won at least 21 games and 2014-15 was the only year they failed to make the NCAA Tournament. They’ve won the Hockey East tournament on three occasions and regular season title twice. The turn around of that program while remaining in a top tier league is could be more impressive than what Mel Pearson did at Michigan Tech.
Cam Ellsworth has always been an extremely hard working individual. He deserves all the success he’s had as a coach. There aren’t many people on that list that would put more sweat and tears into keeping the Huskies relevant. He’s wanted that opportunity since he got into coaching, a chance to return to his Alma Mater and bring home some hardware. The success under Norm Bazin at UML has been nothing short of amazing. The staff there has excelled at developing less heralded players and Ellsworth has been a huge part of that, including the likes of Connor Hellebuyck, Christian Folin, Chad Ruhwedel, and Scott Wilson. All of those players had strong careers with the River Hawks and have made it to the NHL.
Today, CHN released their Super Early Top 10 For 2017-18 with UML coming it at sixth but the last paragraph is what really fits here:
The coaching opening at Michigan Tech may be an interesting problem for UML. Assistant coach Cam Ellsworth, the River Hawks’ chief recruiter, is said to be a favorite. His departure could prove more problematic than any players in the future.Joe Meloni, CHN Senior Writer
Ellsworth is the youngest person we’ve profiled yet and he’s only been working as a coach for nine years, with no head coaching experience. While his teams have had plenty of success, especially UMass-Lowell, it’s hard to know how well he would do as the boss without Norm Bazin or anyone else in charge. The lack of head coaching experience and his age definitely hurt his candidacy.
While its unknown how long Muckalt will stick around or if Rolston is really interested, there is little doubt in either item with Cam Ellsworth. According to many, he has one of the best eye’s for talent on the recruiting trail and his age while a potential liability still plays well high school age recruits. He’s been a huge part of a surge in success with the River Hawks that not many thought could have this much sustained success.
Until today, there wasn’t much talk centering on Ellsworth as a prime target for Michigan Tech but he certainly should be considered for the job. He has some things to overcome but might end up as one of the finalists for the next Huskies’ head coach.
Feature Image courtesy of UMass Lowell Athletics