Adam shining as the next generation of Tambellini

Katherine Dolan
2/18/2014 9:52:17 AM
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The Tambellini name is well known in the hockey world. Steve has built a solid reputation throughout the years - first as a hockey player, then as an NHL general manager and now as a scout. He's had years of experience and knows how to handle any situation with ease.

But when it comes to asserting himself into his son Adam's hockey career with the Western Hockey League's Calgary Hitmen, the Tambellini patriarch has been silent.

"Adam being an older guy and coming from a hockey family, I haven't had any interaction with the family other than saying hello," said Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson. "Steve and his family know our organization (and) feel comfortable with Adam coming here.

"He's very quiet. Let's us do our business. He's more of a fan than a dad, more so than people think."

Adam is the youngest child to bear the Tambellini name. Drafted 65th overall by the New York Rangers last year, he went the collegiate route and started his rookie season with the University of North Dakota last September.

But 16 games into the campaign, Adam had a change of heart. He turned to his most trusted advisors - his father and brother Jeff - for some guidance.

As a family, they made the decision that Adam's future was best served in the Canadian Hockey League, with its heavier schedule and more opportunity to play. The Portland Winterhawks owned Adam's rights, but Adam made it known his preference was to go to Calgary.

The Hitmen jumped at the chance to acquire him, trading their 2014 first-round bantam pick to get him. And it was a decision that Williamson says has already paid off.

"The reason he came is because he wanted to play more hockey," he said. "To develop his consistency and play a tougher schedule and get used to that day-to-day grind. He's come in and fit in really well. He's given us some depth in the middle on the ice, he's given us a scoring threat, he puts the puck in the net or can set somebody else up."

And Adam's actions have spoke volumes. On the day he was traded to Calgary, he drove to Winnipeg and then flew to Saskatoon for his first game with the Hitmen - and finished the night with four points. What's more impressive is that in 19 games so far, he already has 27 points.

"I want to get stronger and develop my game as much as possible," said Tambellini. "Playing this pro-style level, it's going to lead onto the AHL and one day hopefully the NHL. Again I will be playing against men in those leagues, so getting stronger is the number one thing."

At 6'3 and 185 pounds, Adam's been told by the Rangers that he has to get stronger. He's a known playmaker - a skilled centre who can play a two-way game and also carries a great shot. But Williamson says he has to grow into his frame and like most other junior players, he has to become more consistent.

Adam's also spent some time in the offseason working out with his older brother Jeff. The elder Tambellini, who played six seasons in National Hockey League before heading to MoDo of the Swedish Elite League, runs Factory Hockey, a business that helps develop hockey players from the minors up to the NHL. And while father Steve remains close to Adam, it's Jeff that has been his biggest role model.

"We are different players," said Adam. "He always tells me there's says there's no right or wrong way to get to the NHL. Obviously with him he didn't have the longest career but six long seasons is quite the accomplishment and I look up to him more than anyone."

As for his father, Adam wants to make his own name in hockey without the help of his father. He doesn't name drop or use it to get ahead. But he does always take to heart his father's best piece of advice, which is simply to be a pro every day on the ice and off the ice.

"To me, he's just my dad, just another father who has helped me along in my hockey career," he explained. "Obviously with his background he's got ties to the hockey world. He's been a great supporter but has been a quiet impact on my life and around the rink."

Adam Tambellini (Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)


(Photo: Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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