By / PATRICK JOHNSTON
When hockey runs as deep in a family as it does in the Tambellini household, finding advice is never hard.
But Adam Tambellini is doing his best to become his own man.
“He’s got his own mind; he knows how to figure things out,; he’s got a good coaching staff there. We talk about hockey sometimes, but we talk about a lot of other things. He’s got enough people giving him hockey advice,” says his dad, Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
“And he’s the biggest in our family, by far,” said Steve.
Adam’s not sure how well comparisons with his older brother, ex-NHLer Jeff, work.
“I see us quite differently, actually, he’s obviously more of a smaller guy and more of a one-shot-shooter. As a playmaking centreman, I’m trying to make my teammates around me better,” Adam said.
But to hear Adam’s coach describe him, the family background shines through. A coach with the Vernon Vipers for six years – and a former player in the BCHL as well – Jason Williamson says Adam is a special talent.
“His mind for the game is one of the best I’ve seen. He’s such a smart player; he puts himself in really good spots all over the ice,” he said.
Rated by scouts to go in the late-second or early-third round of next summer’s NHL Draft, Tambellini has few rivals in Williamson’s experience.
“We’ve had some pretty phenomenal players, but we haven’t had someone this young and who’s been this watched by the NHL,” he said.
Adam’s big step forward this year, playing first line minutes and driving the Vipers’ attack, comes from his strong understanding of the game,” Williamson said.
“Last year, he was in more of a secondary role,” he said. “This year, he’s seeing other teams’ top pairings.”
A big growth spurt over the past two years has added to his game, Williamson said.
“He’s still only 17-years old, playing in a league that’s usually dominated by other players,” he said.
Next year, Adam will move to the University of North Dakota, a transition that Williamson, a former NCAA Division I player at the University of Niagara, thinks will go well.
“The guys are bigger, stronger, faster, but the game still stays the same,” Williamson said. “He’ll need to put on some weight but he’s tall enough. The adjustment should go well because he thinks the game so well.”
Adam’s success is partly due to his early exposure to the hockey business, his dad feels.
“You’re learning at such a young age about the culture, about how hard people work, about what it takes,” Steve said.
In choosing the college route, the Tambellinis always sought out as much information as possible.
Attending a camp with WHL Portland, playing in the BCHL for a year and meeting with the UND coaches have all been instructive, said Steve.
“You have to let the young player make the decision for himself; what you give them is the information and the experience,” he said.
Even as he carves out his own niche, it all comes back to family, Adam said.
“My brother and my dad have both been huge in helping me through the process. Taking notes after them has been a huge help for me,” he said.
“Seeing what my brother went through at the University of Michigan, I felt the college way was the smart thing to do,” he said. “As a guy who didn’t get drafted in the Bantam draft, I wanted to give myself more of a chance to develop.”Back to Top
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