A broken leg kept Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett out of the Spengler Cup international hockey tournament in 2015.
Healthy this season, Ebbett jumped at the chance to wear the Maple Leaf for the first time, and was a big reason Canada won its 14th Spengler Cup title at the annual tournament held over the Christmas holidays in Davos, Switzerland.
Ebbett had a goal and an assist in the final game, a 5-2 win over HC Lugano of Switzerland. Ebbett, who plays professionally in the Swiss National League A with SC Bern, finished the tournament with four goals and four assists in five games played.
“It was a great week. I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to play for Team Canada with all the great players in this country. So to have that chance I wanted to take advantage and I had an absolute blast,” said Ebbett, who turned 34 Tuesday, in an email.
“I had my mom (Colleen), sister (Ashley) and nephew (Kaden) in Davos for the tourney, too, which made it that much more special. It was awesome to win the Spengler Cup. I remember watching it as a kid and to put that Canadian jersey on for the first time was an awesome feeling.”
The Spengler Cup is an international tournament that was founded in 1923 by Dr. Carl Spengler of Davos, who wanted to promote “contact between nations that had been on opposing sides during the First World War” (from www.spenglercup.ch).
Spengler donated a trophy to offer nations that had previously been enemies the opportunity to “test their strength in peaceful battles and to take one another’s hand in friendship.”
Canada, whose team is usually made up of pros playing in Europe, has been a fixture at the Spengler Cup since 1984.
Things didn’t get off to a great start for Canada, as they fell 7-4 to HK Dinamo Minsk of Belarus. Canada rebounded to beat the hosts, HC Davos, 4-3, and finished off the preliminary round with a 5-1 victory over Mountfield HK of the Czech Republic to advance to the semifinals against Minsk.
Canada got its revenge with a 3-2 victory to advance to the championship game.
“The team chemistry was unbelievable,” said Ebbett. “We had nine powerplay goals in the first three games. I think the communication was exceptional between not only the players, but the coaches as well.
“I think that first loss actually helped us because we knew we outplayed them, but losing brought us together and prepared us for the rest of the tournament.”
The first-ever player signed by the B.C. Hockey League’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Ebbett played one season in the Shuswap before landing a four-year scholarship at the University of Michigan.
Following his college career, Ebbett spent nearly a decade in pro hockey, up-and-down between the NHL and minor leagues.
His NHL stops included Anaheim, Chicago, Minnesota, Phoenix, Vancouver and Pittsburgh.
He then signed with SC Bern, helping the club to the NLA championship last season.
“This is my second year in Europe,” said Ebbett. “I’ve been here in Bern and I have really enjoyed it. I love the city, the organization and the team. It’s been so much fun, especially winning the Swiss championship last year.”
Former Vernon Vipers defenceman Chay Genoway also played for Canada at the Spengler, and, like Ebbett, scored a goal in the championship game.
Genoway played three games in Davos, finishing with 2+2.
He plays professionally in Russia’s KHL with Finland’s Jokerit Helsinki club.