Being named to Canada’s Olympic men’s hockey roster would be an unreal belated birthday gift for Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett.
The five-foot-nine, 176-pound forward with Bern SC in Switzerland’s top hockey league, who turned 35 Tuesday, enhanced his chances of going to South Korea next month with his play for Team Canada at the recent Spengler Cup tournament over the Christmas break in Davos, Switzerland.
Ebbett had two goals and two assists, including a helper in the championship game, a 3-0 win over the Swiss national squad, as Canada rolled to its third straight Spengler Cup title and 15th overall.
Canada was a perfect 4-0 in Davos.
Team Canada general manager Sean Burke confirmed he has already selected 20 players for Canada with five more to be chosen to fill out the roster. One media report after the game said Ebbett was “a lock” for one of the 20 confirmed positions.
“I haven’t been told anything other than the selections are coming sometime around Jan. 11th,” said Ebbett. “I hope that with my season in Bern so far, and my three tournaments with Team Canada, have been enough to earn a spot on the team. I feel like there is nothing more I can do. It’s out of my control now.”
In Bern, where he has helped his team to first place in the standings, Ebbett has 11 goals and 26 assists for 37 points in 34 games played. He played two pre-Spengler Cup events with Team Canada, pocketing no points in two games as Canada went 1-2 at the Karjala Cup in Finland in November. Ebbett had two assists as Canada went 2-1 at the Sochi Hockey Open in August in Russia.
Ebbett has been a part of back-to-back Spengler Cup wins wearing the Maple Leaf. This year’s event was labeled as the final audition for a spot on the Canadian Olympic roster.
“This one (Spengler Cup) was a little more pressure packed with the Olympic selections coming soon,” said Ebbett. “Last year I had my mom, sister and nephew with me so it was very relaxed and I just wanted to have fun. This year the family stayed home and I tried to put all my energy into making my case for a spot on the Olympic team.”
The Olympic hockey tournament in South Korea will be the first since 1994 that NHL players have not participated.
“I think everyone that has a chance has been thinking about the Olympic selections since the start of the season,” said Ebbett. “It’s hard not to. This is something that guys in my position didn’t even think was possible. So now to have that chance, it’s been great.”
Ebbett was the first-ever player signed by the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and led the team in scoring in their inaugural 2001-02 season with 45-39-84 in all 60 games played. He then played for the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA for four seasons before embarking on his professional career. Ebbett was never drafted professionally.
He has spent the past three seasons in Bern, helping the team to back-to-back league championships.
“This season with Bern has been great so far,” he said. “We have a really great group of guys who are still hungry for more. We have a lot of players that will be on various Olympic teams so we’re hoping to come back healthy from that and be ready for the playoffs and a chance at a three-peat.”
Ebbett played 224 NHL regular season games with the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 26 goals and adding 45 assists for 71 NHL points.