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ELLIS HIGHLIGHTS RED WINGS SIGNINGS

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Detroit Red Wings, NHL affiliate to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, have announced the signings of forward Matt Ellis, defenseman Brad Ference, and goaltender Adam Berkhoel.

Ellis, 25, who inked a two-year extension with the Wings, comes off his best season since turning pro in 2002. In the midst of pacing the Griffins with a career-high 26 goals and a personal best 49 points, the team captain earned his first call-up, making his NHL debut on December 18 at Columbus, one of 16 games he appeared in a Wings uniform.

A four-year Griffins veteran, two of which he has served the team as captain, Ellis ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 282 games played (4th), 69 goals (5th), 84 assists (8th), 153 points (6th), 12 shorthanded goals (1st) and 10 game-winning goals (T8th). In addition, his five shorthanded tallies last season matched Eric Himelfarb for the franchise record.

“Matt has been widely considered the heart and soul of Griffins hockey on and off the ice the past couple of seasons,” commented Griffins General Manager Bob McNamara. “His work ethic and commitment to our team and organization is unmatched.”

Ference, 28, is entering his ninth professional season having split time between the NHL and AHL with 250 and 245 contests, respectively. Aside from five games with his hometown NHL club in Calgary, Ference appeared in 73 games last season with the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights. He led all Knights defensemen in scoring with 26 points, and finished second on the team in penalty minutes with 210.

The pugnacious blue-liner is a former first-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks, selected 10th in the 1997 Entry Draft. In 2001-02, Ference completed his first full season in the NHL as a member of the Florida Panthers, appearing in 80 contests and amassing 254 penalty minutes to rank second in the NHL. He finished third among Florida Panthers defenseman in scoring with 17 points.   

Berkhoel, 26, comes to the Red Wings organization after a successful year in the East Coast Hockey League, where he led the Dayton Bombers to the Kelly Cup Finals with three shutouts and a 2.55 GAA. A native of St. Paul Minnesota, Berkhoel also played in six games for the AHL’s Rochester Americans last season.

A successful playoff run is nothing new to Berkhoel, as he paced all ECHL netminders with a 1.53 GAA in 2004-05, and won an NCAA Championship with the University of Denver the year before. That same season, he topped all WCHA goaltenders with seven shutouts.


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