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June 05, 2005 - Image 15

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2005-06-05

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The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, July 5, 2005 - 15
Ebbett is resilient in
spite o rocky moments

By James V. Dowd
Daily Sports Editor
Like thepickup truck that he drove to
and from Friday's workout at Yost Ice
Arena, senior captain Andrew Ebbett
is built to handle all types of terrain.
While much of his career as a center
for the Michigan hockey team has been
smooth sailing, Ebbett has hit a few
rough spots but showed his resilience
by emerging as a better player and,
ultimately, a can't-miss candidate for
next season's captaincy.
The Expressway to Ann Arbor
Since arriving in Ann Arbor,
Ebbett has been known as one of
the team's top playmakers and
faceoff men. After playing hockey
throughout his youth, Ebbett began
fine-tuning his playmaking abilities
while spending the 2001-02 season
with the expansion Salmon Arm
Silverbacks of the British Columbia
Hockey League. Ebbett starred in
all areas for the Silverbacks, scor-
ing 45 goals and notching 39 assists
during his 60-game rookie season
and was named the team's most
valuable player. It was this perfor-
mance that caught Michigan coach
Red Berenson's eye, and Ebbett was
invited to Ann Arbor for a
visit.
"I visited to
watch Michigan
play Minnesota
and Wisconsin
in the Col-
lege Hockey
Showcase,"
Ebbett
said.
"That's all
that need-
ed to be
said. I came
here and
watched the
Ohio State
and Michi-
gan football
game on
the Saturday
and that was it.
Michigan was the first school I came
to, and I didn't need to see anymore."
So Ebbett headed back to British
Columbia with intentions of rejoining the
Silverbacks for a year before coming to
Michigan, but those plans soon changed.
During the summer of 2002, Ebbett
brought his parents to Ann Arbor so they
could see the campus that he had so quick-
ly fallen in love with. Their visit coincided
with a nervous time for the Michigan pro-
gram, as it realized the departure of cur-
rent Los Angeles Kings center Michael
Cammalleri was imminent.
"In the summer I was visiting some
friends in Toronto, and I brought my
parents down here to see the campus,"
Ebbett said. "(Michigan assistant) coach
(Billy) Powers said I should expect a call
in a week or two because they thought
Cammalleri might leave."
After Ebbett had returned home

to British Columbia, Powers's call
was almost on cue.
"I went home and literally two
weeks later I got the call asking me
to come," Ebbett said. "My coaches
in Salmon Arm weren't too happy,
but it was the best decision and it
worked out great for me."
Easy Street with his teammates
Since he came to Michigan, one of
Ebbett's off-ice strong suits has been
his ability to relate to all of his team-
mates. Ebbett - along with fellow
seniors Al Montoya and Jeff Tam-
bellini - was named one of three
Wolverine captains for the 2005-06
campaign. According to Powers,
Ebbett's selection was due to his
omnipresent work ethic and his abil-
ity to socially maneuver between all
of his teammates, taking the pulse
of the entire team.
"He's a great teammate and has
no group or pack on our team," Pow-
ers said. "He is clearly a friend of
everyone. He's just got a nice way
about him. He's the kind of kid who
doesn't get too excited and he thinks
things through. He'll be a good
sounding board for the coaches."
Ebbett's ease of relating to team-
mates may stem from living
in close quarters with
the rest of this year's
senior class. All of
the tri-captains
live together,
along with fel-
low seniors
Brandon
Kaleniecki
and Noah
Ruden. Spend-
ing so much time
with each other gives
them ample opportunity to
sort out any disagreements
that may arise.
"I think it's great, because any
time you have a problem, you
know where they are 24/7," Ebbett
said. "With such a tight senior class,
with Ruden and Kaleniecki in there too,
all of us live together. You can bring up
anything you want at any time - it's
really laid back. We know how each of us
does everything and reacts to everything,
It's kind of like we're brothers."
Cruise control to the Black List
While his relationships with team-
mates have always come easily, his
success on the ice has not. After experi-
encing a slump in early January, Beren-
son and his staff decided to bench Ebbett
for the series against Alaska-Fairbanks
on Jan. 14 and 15, ending his streak of
108 consecutive games played.
"I had an awful series against Western
Michigan," Ebbett said. "I almost cost
the team a game with a bad penalty on
the Saturday night, and I came into the
practice on Tuesday and had the black
jersey on. I remember walking in and
seeing that in my locker for the first time,

so I immediately knew I wasn't playing."
Powers saw that while Ebbett had
continued trying, he was struggling
to hit his usual standard of play and
believed that Ebbett needed a week-
end to sit back and re-evaluate his
recent performance.
"Ebbett's the kind of kid who will
never take a day off," Powers said. "He's
not a slacker at all, not a shortcut kind of
guy. He just found a comfort zone where
he thought things were going pretty
good. We had to remind him that he was
not living up to any expectation that he
had set or we had set for his season."
After talking over the benching
with Powers and watching the two-
game series from the stands, Ebbett
realized that perhaps his focus had
shifted to the wrong parts of his
game. Instead of using his innate
ability to find open teammates on
the ice, Ebbett was more interested
in finding his name in the goals col-
umn of the scoresheet.
"At that point my intensity was
just not where it should be for a guy
like me," Ebbett said. "It seemed
like I was just coasting along. I was
still trying hard - maybe too hard
- but it just wasn't going for me. I
needed to relax because I was in a
slump and hadn't scored a goal for a
while. I was starting to worry more
about scoring goals than playing
defense and what was best for the
team. I needed that weekend to sit
back and watch from over the top
and see what was going on."
Powers's solution was easy enough
for the hard-working Ebbett to han-
dle. He simply encouraged Ebbett to
return to the habits that had worked
for him throughout his career.
"I talked with Coach Powers and
he just told me to keep it simple,"
Ebbett said. "He said to go out there
and work hard and worry about
defense first. I just went out there-
and played hard defense. Every
chance I had to go out on the ice,
I just skated as fast as I could and
worked as hard as I could and every-
thing started to come in to place."
Ebbett said that skating hard in
practice each day and reflecting on
his efforts while watching that week-
end's garnes helped Ebbett realize
that the coaches had made the right
decision, but he'll never forget what it
felt like to see the black jersey hang-
ing in his locker.
"I was pretty furious about it until
the next Monday," Ebbett said. "I was
upset with myself when I had to sit in
the stands. I'm still a little mad about it
but it's been the best thing that's hap-
pened to me. It totally changed my year
around and I started playing well after
that. I had more fire under my feet.
Everything just seemed to work out.
But at the time, I wasn't happy with
(Berenson), but he knows what's best."
Looking back at Ebbett's grace
in traversing the rough ground that
can come with a benching, Powers
believes it is the ultimate example
of Ebbett's resilient personality.

Senior center and tri-captain Andrew Ebbett battles for the puck behind the net
during a CCHA playoff matchup with Notre Dame at Yost Ice Arena in March.

"The best thing about it was that
he didn't pout," Powers said. "He
was upset, he was probably shocked.
But I think after a couple of days
when he got to re-evaluate, he real-
ized that he needed to be a differ-
ent Andrew Ebbett. Nobody wants
to say that I should have sat out or
that I deserved to sit out. I think
that was a huge sign of what kind
of kid he is and where his maturity
level is."
Turning back to his old ways
After the benching, Ebbett began to
play like his old self, notching 11 points
in 10 games, and even went on a four-
game goal-scoring streak. Ebbett attri-
butes his recovered success to using the
tools he has been recognized for since
his earliest days in youth hockey.
"I've always had good vision of
the ice," Ebbett said. "When I was
younger, my parents always told me
that and my coaches have always
said that. I know where everyone is
going to be at certain times."
Besides his playmaking ability,
which helped him earn 31 assists
on the season - third-best on the
team and sixth-best in the CCHA
- one of Ebbett's most important
contributions is his ability to win
faceoffs. Ebbett won 54.6 percent
of his faceoffs last year, tops among
Michigan's regular centers.
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"The coaches and I worked on
(faceoffs) every day in practice
last year," Ebbett said. "It's just
something I thrive on, especially
with how important it is. Since I've
been here, the coaches have always
stressed how faceoffs can end your
season or keep your season going."
In the 2005-06 season Ebbett is
looking forward to serving as one
of the team's captains and hopes to
continue improving his game.
"I just want to go out there and
do what the coaches need me to do,"
Ebbett said. "I want to be out there
against the other teams' top lines
and shut them down. I want to try
to be one of the best penalty killers
in the league."
Ebbett hopes that his improved
work ethic will rub off on his team-
mates, and feels that can be his best
contribution as captain of a team
with 10 new players.
"I'm just focused on the team and
what the goals are for the team,"
Ebbett said. "I'm really involved with
helping out with guys who need help
in certain areas. I just have a pas'
sion for the game. I do what I can in
the locker room to help guys out and
every day I come to practice with a
work ethic so the guys see me work-
ing hard and that it rubs off on them.
Either in the weight room or in prac-
tice on the ice, I just keep focused
and do the right things at home."

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