by Chris Roy || AHL On The Beat Archive
Andrew Ebbett may be small in stature, but he’s a giant on the ice for the Portland Pirates.
At 5-foot-9, 172 pounds, he plays the game with an edge; he’s not one to shy away from making his home inside the blue paint, something he attributes to his size and work ethic.
“It’s just something that you have to do playing professional hockey,” said Ebbett. “That’s just my work ethic and my energy level in a game. I just work hard, its part of my game, when I step out onto the ice everybody is the same to me so I just work as hard as I can. Maybe that adds the few extra pounds that I need in my head.”
After having a successful rookie 2006-07 season with the Binghamton Senators scoring 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 71 games, he signed his first NHL contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
Ebbett felt it was a perfect fit for him because of the past history of the Ducks to find undrafted players. Players like former Pirates Dustin Penner and Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald would help lead Anaheim to the Stanley Cup.
Ironically, it was Anaheim’s Finals opponent, the Ottawa Senators, who also tried to sign Ebbett to an NHL contract, but they couldn’t come to terms.
“It’s very nice to get the first NHL contract and to just kind of sit back and relax – it’s done with,” Ebbett quipped. “It was a weird situation because Ottawa was in the Stanley Cup Finals with Anaheim, it was very interesting. I had a lot of people ask me who I was rooting for and what side I was on. It was an exciting time over the summer having lifted the weight off my shoulders early on.”
Ebbett credits a lot of his success to playing for Red Berenson at the University of Michigan. As a young 19-year-old, he headed off for school in a different county, playing for one of the top NCAA schools in the United States, playing for one of greatest coaches of all time in college hockey. It was certainly an adjustment period for Ebbett, but again his work ethic showed through, as he would become captain of the Wolverines in his senior season.
“It was a little bit of a culture shock moving down to the states. I had a great four years (at Michigan); it was an awesome place to play,” Ebbett said. “The atmosphere was amazing at Yost Ice Arena, probably one of the best places to play college hockey and you get a coach like Red Berenson to mold me into a more balanced hockey player. He taught me how to play both sides of the ice.”
Pirates head coach Kevin Dineen is certainly happy to have him for as long as he possibly can. With how the NHL teams now have to build through the draft and signing players like Ebbett, it won’t be long before he gets his call to the NHL.
Playing on a line with Ducks prospects Bobby Ryan and Jason King, Ebbett is racking up the points. In 11 games this season, he’s currently the Pirates’ leading scorer with 13 points (4g, 9a) and has two game-winning goals.
“He’s such a well-rounded a hockey player, he does so many good things offensively,” said Dineen. “A college free agent that had a very solid year in Binghamton last year… he’s certainly carried that into here. I talked to his (former) coach (Dave Cameron) this summer and he said it started out that he played a little bit, and then he played more and by the end of the year he was using him in absolutely every situation.
“We skipped the ‘a little bit’ and ‘a little more’ part and we’re using him in most situations.”
For Ebbett, like all players, his desire is to one day play in the NHL and with his desire and passion as well as his work ethic, he has a leg up on the competition.