By the time a player reaches the AHL or NHL, they have already achieved a lot in their careers and made plenty of memories along the way. Each week we’ll sit down with one of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and talk about some of the memorable “firsts” they’ve had during their careers, ranging from their first time on skates to their first goal as a pro.
Player: Andrew Ebbett
Birthplace: Vernon, British Columbia
Years pro: 8
First time on skates: “I think I was 4. I can’t remember much, but my parents got me a pair of skates, Bauers, and I still have them. They’re a nice keepsake to have and show my kids.”
First team: “It was in Calgary when I was 4. We had Minnesota North Star colors — green, yellow and white, but we were the Calgary North Stars. I played defense. My parents said I couldn’t skate well and I just stayed on one spot on the ice. It was the only year I played defense in my life.”
First coach: “I don’t remember the first, but the one I do remember was coach Treller in Burnham, B.C., when I was 9 years old.”
First time you won anything: “My first year in Bantam B we won a big tournament in Vancouver. Our team wasn’t that good in the season, but our GM — I guess you could call him that — said if we won that tournament he’d get us all rings. I still have mine. It has a leaf on it because we were the Vernon Leafs. I think it fits my pinky now.”
First time hockey took you away from home: “My first year in juniors when I was 17. I graduated high school a year early and played juniors. It was an hour away, so my parents came and watched me every weekend. I lived with two other guys in a family house and since I was already done with school, the biggest adjustment was trying to fill my time. It was a lot of time at the rink and a lot of video games.”
First pro contract: “It was a one-way AHL deal with Binghamton. I owe a lot to Red Berenson, my coach from Michigan, and my agent for talking to Ottawa. It wasn’t for a lot of money, but I was happy I knew where I was going to play for the year. A lot of other guys didn’t have that.
“You’re playing for money now and I learned how to budget because I had to live off that money for the next summer. You grow up a lot. The next summer I got my NHL contract with Anaheim. That made me feel like I earned it. To see the team name on the contact and sign your name underneath, it was pretty special.”
First goal as a pro: “My first game I played with Binghamton. I was a healthy scratch for the first game of the season and coach told me later on that he was actually thinking about sending me down. I got to play in the second game, got a two-on-one, held onto the puck and shot it five-hole. I was in the lineup the rest of the year after that.”
First time you faced adversity in your hockey career: “When I was at Michigan. My junior season, halfway through the year I took a couple of bad penalties in a game. The next weekend we had two home games and Coach Berenson sat me. That stung, but it actually turned around my college career. I built on that and always think back to it whenever things aren’t going well.”