6B - The Michigan Daily - FACEOFF 2003 - Thursday, October 9, 2003
Burnes made for sheriff's role
Thursday, October 9, 2003 - FACE4
By Sharad Mattu
Daily Sports Writer
"It's hard to just put a finger on
Burnes." - Michigan coach Red
Is that ever true.
After all, he notched just eight
points last season and 20 in his first
tie years. So his impact won't
show up in the box score.
Yet the last two years he has
received the Vic Heyliger Trophy,
awarded to the hockey team's out-
And now he's being asked to fill
the void left behind by Jed Ortmey-
er, just the seventh player to serve
as Michigan's captain in back-to-
So why is Burnes such an integral
part of the team?
To see where his presence is felt,
watch the action going on when
Michigan's opponent has a power-
You'll see No. 4 moving franti-
cally across the pond, ready to
sprawl along the ice if he senses a
slapshot directed at the net. He'll
be willing to do anything and
everything to keep the score where
Burnes has made it this far with
hard-nosed play and a never-ending
work ethic, just like Ortmeyer
"Jed was a hard worker more than
anything," Burnes said. "He came to
the rink every night with his hard
hat on ready to go and ready to do
whatever it takes for the team.
"That's something I've been
doing for the past three years, and
that's not going to change."
And that's exactly what the
Wolverines will need from Burnes
this year. Michigan is loaded with
talent, but will be relying on two or
possibly three freshman defensemen.
"If I see the guys doing some-
thing I've done in the past -
because I've been in their shoes as a
freshman defenseman and had a
senior help me out - I know that
just sitting next to the guy in the
lockerroom and telling them how to
deal with certain situations can
make a difference," Burnes said.
"But more than anything it's just
leading by example as well as play-
ing like a senior and like a captain."
Gunslinger Jeff Tambellini commits his life to his first love
By Gennaro Filicem Daily Sports Writer
Senior Andy Burnes is Michigan's new captain due to his tireless work ethic and
tough play. With seven freshmen joining the squad, he's taking his role seriously.
Each member of Burnes' senior
class, all three of them, has had quite
a three years. Each year they've
made a grand run and seen their
dream fall apart in the Frozen Four.
But Burnes has learned a thing or
two and hopes it can make a differ-
"Every shift is important," Burnes
said. "You never know when it's
going to be your turn to make a dif-
ference. There's a small margin of
error, and you've got to be ready
every shift, every period, every sec-
ond of the game."
A national championship would
be the perfect ending for the Bat-
tle Creek native. But, champi-
onship or not, Berenson hopes the
freshmen are watching Burnes
closely this year.
"If you're a young player on the
team - particularly a defenseman
- you can just pattern yourself
after Andy Burnes," Berenson said.
"You look at what he brings to the
table emotionally and look at the
way he acts and the way he com-
petes and the way he practices, you
will be a better player."
T here are athletes who dedicate
their lives to a sport - spend-
ing every waking moment mas-
tering the negligible intricacies of
their chosen craft. There are athletes
who live and die by the quirky
bounces of an imperfect object. There
are athletes who would give their left
pinky to savor the sweet taste of victo-
ry on the season's final day.
And then there's Jeff Tambellini.
The hockey-infatuated sophomore
who led last year's Wolverines in scoring
as a wide-eyed freshman remembers
first falling for his beloved pastime.
"When I was seven or eight, I real-
ized that this. was the game that I really
enjoyed playing - the game I loved -
and I just wanted to play it at the high-
est level I could," Tambellini said. "And
from then it kind of took off."
Kind of took off? Scratch that ...
Last season, the 19-year-old led
Michigan in overall points, received the
CCHA Rookie of the Year Award and
Ali-CCHA Second Team honors, helped
lead the Wolverines to their third consec-
utive Frozen Four and was drafted No.
27 overall by the Los Angeles Kings.
"He was one player that was able to
come in and not only skate as well or
better than any of our players, but he
had the knack with the puck to score at
this level right from day one," coach
Red Berenson said.
Teammates illustrate Tambellini in a
predictably uniform fashion. Junior for-
ward Eric Nystrom describes the Port
Moody, British Columbia, native as a
quiet kid who "loves hockey and does-
n't think about much else."
Freshman defenseman Tim Cook
echoes Nystrom's words, adding, "He's
just real focused on everything he needs
to do and he knows where he's going."
So, how did this soft-spoken kid from
north of the border with an obsession
nearing insanity become a first-round
pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft?
Jeff's mother, Denise, has the easy
"The day that he decided hockey was
his thing, he was focused and never
looked back. That was just what he was
on a mission for and that was his road.
Jeff is the most dedicated, determined
write about hockey,' because his life
was all about hockey."
At the age of 16, Jeff moved an hour
from home to play for the Chilliwack
Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey
"As a mother, it was tough," Denise
said. "We were fortunate he wasn't that
far, and we saw him often, and it allowed
him to kind of take that time and lean out
of home and make that transition."
Jeff starred on Chilliwack for two
seasons. In his second year, he was
named the BCHL Most Valuable and
Most Sportsmanlike Player, accumulat-
ing an impressive 171 points in 83
games. Maybe the most jaw-dropping
statistic of his career, Jeff scored a
BCHL-record four goals in the first
4:05 of a playoff game.
But even with amazing stats to put on
his resume, Tambellini believes his
greatest asset while playing on Chilli-
wack was performing on the same
patch of ice as players of all ages.
"Being around guys that are 21 years
old whernyou're 16 years old really
opens your eyes up pretty quick," Jeff
said. "I think it has just helped me
mature as a player and as a person."
Jeff entertained scholarship offers
from Michigan State, Boston College
and Washington University in St. Louis,
but he said, "When it came down to it,
Michigan was just the right fit."
Jeff credits the awesome success he
enjoyed as a freshman to the experience
and leadership of his linemates.
"I got to play with two seniors last
season, Jed Ortmeyer and John
Shouneyia, who made my year so easy,"
Jeff said. "They took me under their
wing last year for sure."
Although Jeff worships his elder
statesmen, thinking of the senior duo
conjures the memory of last year's sea-
son-ending overtime loss to Minnesota
in the Frozen Four semifinals.
"(I remember) sitting on the bench
looking at my two linemates, seeing
their college careers end without them
being on the ice," Jeff said. "I was talk-
ing to Ortmeyer when we saw (Min-
nesota's game-winning) goal go in, and
just the look on those two's faces - it
was just emotionless."
See TAMBELLINI, Page 8B
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and driven kid that I have ever seen. I
personally don't know anybody who
works harder than Jeff. He gives it 110
percent all of the time because he loves
what he is doing."
Jeff remembers an early influence to
hit the ice.
"I think it (was) just being around the
game," Jeff said. "Every person in my
family, including my grandma, played
Deep bloodlines in the sport
increased Jeff's yearning to partake in
Canada's favorite game. Jeff's grandfa-
ther, Addie, won an amateur hockey
world title with the Trail Smoke Eaters
of British Columbia in 1961. His father,
Steve, was the 15th pick of the 1978
NHL draft and enjoyed a 10-year career
in the league. Currently, he serves as
vice president for player personnel for
the Vancouver Canucks.
"Growing up in the environment,
hockey was a way of life," Jeff said.
Being third in a line of phenomenal
hockey players could have its downsides
- such as additional pressure to per-
form - but Denise believes the experi-
ence benefited her son.
"I don't think it was hard for (Jeff)
growing up having a dad that played
hockey," Denise said. "I think it offered
him special situations. He spent a lot of
his life around an NHL team, and there-
fore he was real comfortable with being
Tambellini got a taste of the profes-
sional hockey life, skating with Vancou-
ver players like Cliff Ronning and
Trevor Linden on a regular basis. These
NHL encounters motivated Jeff, and led
him to train harder.
"I think there's a point you can get to
just on talent," Jeff said. "But when
you're 12, 13 years old it doesn't just
come to you - you've got to put in all
those extra hours just practicing small
things, and that's what really makes the
Jeff's passion for hockey didn't stop
on the ice.
"He was completely dedicated to
hockey in his own mind," Denise said.
"It's funny because his teachers in high
school would give him an English
assignment and say, 'Jeff, you can not
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