Vernon’s Andrew Ebbett will play for Canada at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.
Hockey Canada names its final roster this morning in Calgary. Canada will go for a third straight Olympic men’s hockey gold medal. Ebbett, who just turned 35, is one of 14 forwards listed. Former Vernon Viper Chay Genoway is one of eight defencemen chosen.
Forwards Gilbert Brule, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy and Wojtek Wolski and goaltender Ben Scrivens are former NHL veterans named to the team that will be counted on will bring big-game experience.
All but three of the players announced are from European-based leagues after the NHL bowed out of competing in South Korea.
That’s in stark contrast to Canada’s Olympic champion squads in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014), which were stocked with NHL stars.
General manager Sean Burke, head coach Willie Desjardins and Team Canada’s braintrust had to scour Russia’s Kontenintal Hockey League and Switzerland’s National League, among others, to find players talented enough to wear the Maple Leaf on the world stage.
“I have to thank (Hockey Canada) for the geography lesson and the air miles,” Burke joked at a press conference announcing the team. “I apologize I can’t do this in French but I could probably do it in Russian.”
Related: Brule, Raymond, Roy among former NHL veterans named to men’s Olympic team
Burke and Desjardins used pre-Olympic tournaments such as the Karjala Cup, Channel One Cup and Spengler Cup to evaluate over players and build the roster.
“These guys … they earned it,” Burke said. “We saw them play, we had numerous events, and every one of them represented our jersey like we expect Canadians to do.” The 2018 Games will mark the first time that Canada will go to the Olympics without NHL players since 1994.
Ebbett, a 5-foot-9, 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, who was on the first Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ roster in the B.C. Hockey League, 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.
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 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. He racked up 38 goals and 153 points in four NCAA years with the University of Michigan Wolverines while going undrafted.
Genoway, 31, of Morden, Man., is in his fourth year in Russia’s KHL. He had four goals and 17 points in 49 games with Tolyatti Lada.
Genoway, a 5-foot-9, 177-pounder, pocketed 17 goals and 49 points with the Vipers in the 2005-06 season. He amassed 26 goals and 127 points with the North Dakota Fighting Sioux before playing in the AHL for three seasons.