Today is the second episode of “Where are they now?”. We want to find out where they are, and what they do, the players who – one way or another – wrote a page or more of our National League.
We started with Petteri Nummelin, while today it’s the turn of…
This time, we want to talk about the former ZSC Lions and Fribourg Gottéron Jeff Tambellini. Canadian, born on April 13th, 1984, forward (180cm x 84kg) drafted in 2003 by the Los Angeles Kings in 27th overall position.
What a talent he was. A talent that between 2003 and 2005 played in the prestigious NCAA with the University of Michigan, where he was the team’s leading scorer for two seasons out of three and where he played also alongside the current player of Bern Andrew Ebbett.
Between 2005 and 2011 then, Jeff Tambellini recorded good figures in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings, the New York Islanders and the Vancouver Canucks (248 appearances, 63 points) and excellent figures in the AHL with the Manchester Monarcs, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and the Manitoba Moose (248 appearances, 251 points!).
These figures, together with the fact that he was a forward with good puck-handling and with quick skating, suggested that Jeff Tambellini could succeed in Switzerland. And so, it was.
He joined the ZSC Lions on the eve of the 2011-12 season and he got off to a fantastic start. During the first appearance in Zürich his team suffered a 6-5 home defeat against Zug, but nevertheless Jeff scored two goals. After that, he helped the team coached by Bob Hartley win the title. The following season instead, was not e very luck one for Jeff… as Zürich lost at the semi-final stages (against Gottéron!) and the guy missed part of the season as he got injured.
After a season and a half in Switzerland, Jeff Tambellini moved to Sweden where he joined the MODO Hockey and where he played also alongside the current Finn of Bienne Anssi Salmela.
Yet, he moved back to Switzerland after only one year. This time though, he joined Fribourg Gottéron for the 2014-15 season. Things didn’t work out very well on the shores of the Sarine though… Jeff missed the first two games of the season and made his debut with his new team on September 19th, 2014, when the Dragons hosted Genève Servette and suffered a 4-3 defeat. Tambellini did ok on that day, and he scored a goal.
After that, however, it was a negative season for Gottéron, who was firstly coached by Hans Kossmann and then by Gerd Zenhäusern. The Dragons missed the playoffs and Jeff Tambellini left the club in January 2015 in order to transfer back to Sweden.
In Sweden and, more precisely, with the Växjö Lakers HC, where he played also alongside the current Finn forward of Lugano Jani Lajunen, and where he helped the Swedish club win its first title in history!
After the short – but intense – adventure in Sweden, Jeff Tambellini moved back overseas where he played a season in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch finding himself to play alongside the current forward of Genève Servette Tanner Richard. In this case though, the adventure didn’t last long either. More precisely, it lasted one season, after which he moved back again to Sweden – firstly to Djugardens IF, than again to the Växjö Lakers – in order to play the last season of his career.
Right, because Jeff decided to hang up his skates at the end of the 2016-17 season.
AND NOW… WHERE HE IS AND AND WHAT HE’S DOING?
HEAD COACH IN CANADA
Anyway, there was no pause for Jeff Tambellini. Already starting from the 2017-18 season in fact, he was back in business as he was appointed Mel Pearson’s assistant coach at the University of Michgan, his youth team. And after only one season, he started yet another new adventure.
Starting from the 2018-19 season and to date in fact, Jeff Tambellini is the coach of the Trail Smoke Eaters in the BCHL (British Columbia Hockey League). Last season his team was eliminated at the quarterfinal stages while this season, so far, the Smoke Eaters have earned 37 points in 28 games and are currently third placed in the “Interior” division. To note that Jeff’s team has the second-best power-play of the league (24.8%).
We wish Jeff all the best. And then who knows, perhaps one day he will be back in our National League as the head coach of a team… in that case, see you soon Jeff 🙂