Ebbett hears Coyotes call

A few games as a role player with the Phoenix Coyotes. Then back to starring with the San Antonio Rampage in Texas.

Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett celebrates a goal with the Phoenix Coyotes. He was recently called up from the AHL San Antonio Rampage.

Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett celebrates a goal with the Phoenix Coyotes. He was recently called up from the AHL San Antonio Rampage.

A few games as a role player with the Phoenix Coyotes. Then back to starring with the San Antonio Rampage in Texas.

So goes the 2010-11 hockey season for Vernon minor hockey product Andrew Ebbett.

The 28-year-old speedy forward was recalled by the Coyotes again late last week after former Kelowna Rocket Vern Fiddler went down with a shoulder injury.

Ebbett saw fourth-line centre duty, earning 13:49 of ice time in the Coyotes’ 6-0 loss to Vancouver Wednesday night and garnered 8:23 of play as Phoenix fell 5-3 to the host San Jose Sharks Tuesday night.

In San Antonio, Ebbett and linemates Brett McLean (second-round draft pick, 2007) and Michael Bodker (first round, ‘08) are the No. 1 line and the major reason the Rampage are chasing the American Hockey League Western Division title.

“It’s a lot of fun playing with those guys,” said Ebbett. “There are a lot of good, young guys down there. The guys are a little smaller and the play is a little slower, but the hockey is still pretty good.

“Getting called up still feels the same as the first time. I play on the third or fourth line with Phoenix so I have to adjust my play. We have a lot of depth so we roll four lines and kind of wear teams down. We’re good on the back end and (Ilya) Bryzgalov is one of the best goalies in the league.”

The 5-foot-9, 175-pounder beat L.A. Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick on a two-on-one shorthanded play with Lauri Korpikoski for the winner in his first game with Phoenix on Oct. 21, a 4-2 win.

He is high on Phoenix defenceman Keith Yandle, who leads the Coyotes with nine goals and 45 points, and is getting consideration for the league’s Norris Trophy as top blueliner.

“He’s really good,” said Ebbett. “He’s a real smart player who has awesome offensive instincts. He’s one of those guys who can pick his spots anywhere on the ice. He’s a real good passer and he likes to jump up in the play.”

The likeable Ebbett says the Coyotes always make him feel welcome, and he calls captain Shane Doan a “real down to earth guy.” Ebbett’s No. 26 dressing room stall remained untouched on his latest tour of duty in the desert.

Ebbett played one year in the B.C. Hockey League, amassing 45 goals and 84 points with the Salmon Arm SilverBacks. He then had a stellar NCAA career with the University of Michigan Wolverines, pocketing 38 goals and 143 points.

He has played 121 NHL games with the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and Phoenix, earning 18-30-48. He spent a month with the salary-cap plagued Hawks last year, thus missing out on a Stanley Cup victory.

“At least I can say I was with the Stanley Cup champions for 10 games,” he chuckled.

Ebbett has fond memories of two trips to the Vernon Coca-Cola Classic Pee Wee tournament, where he was coached by Joe Oliver and Clayton Adams and played with the likes of Chad Murray (former Viper captain) and Harlan Anderson (won two CIS titles with the Alberta Golden Bears).

“Everything was exciting about that tournament,” said Ebbett. “They made you feel like a star with the banquet and the parade. There was a team from Ontario so it was a pretty big deal.”

Ebbett, who stays in a hotel room when up with the Coyotes, has a place in San Antonio with his fiancée, Maggie Ford of Michigan. The couple will marry June 18 in Ann Harbour, Mich.

He’s on a two-way contract with the Coyotes and “staying positive” as he becomes a free agent in the summer.