Sault’s Own ‘Miracle’ Inspiring All

SAULT STE. MARIE – Inspired by the story of the 1980 U.S. men’s hockey team and the movie that followed, ‘Miracle,’ Zach Ellis is motivating one Sault High School hockey player at a time.

Ellis, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age, gave the Blue Devils a pep talk prior to a game three years ago, reciting the speech given by coach Herb Brooks to the U.S. men prior to their game against the Soviet Union at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics and later immortalized by Kurt Russell in the 2004 film, ‘Miracle.’

“Zach was so excited,” Zach’s mother Lynda Ellis said. “He was watching ‘Miracle’ over and over and wanted to give that speech.”

My assistant coach, Rick Mackie, came to me and we have a little boy, a young boy, that wants to meet you and the team and can we bring him to a game? And I said, ‘Certainly,’” added Sault Ste. Marie coach John Ferroni. “He was coming to the games and he wanted to do the ‘Miracle’ speech for the players before the game. Well, I thought it couldn’t hurt.

“Anytime he wanted to come back, he was welcome to. He has not left … and he has been here for the last three years. He has just been a fixture with this program now.”

Now the team’s manager, Zach is cheering on his favorite players on the bench during games and practices.

“When Zach came in and gave that speech, you know, we were really surprised that he pulled that one off because not a lot of people can do that,” senior captain Avery TenEyck said. “It really got us ready for that game.

“Maybe he is not playing hockey, but he’s getting the experience of hockey and what hockey can do to you as a person, let alone a hockey player off the ice and what it feels like to be part of a family.”

The Ellis family has felt the love and embrace of the entire Sault hockey program.

“Everybody involved with that hockey team has just been so great. From the coaches to the players … even the parents of the players,” Zach’s father Clayton Ellis said.


Categories: Hockey