When you think of the stereotypical chess guru, you probably
think of a scrawny little guy with big-rimmed glasses who can
derive the Pythagorean Theorem in his sleep. When you think of a
hockey player, you probably think of a big, nasty brute that enjoys
shoving people in his spare time.

Mira Levitan
Andrew Ebbett is second on the Wolverines this season in both total points and assists because of his ability to find openings around the ice. (JASON COOPER/Daily)

When you put the two images together, you’re describing
one of the Michigan hockey team’s most prolific scorers
— sophomore center Andrew Ebbett.

Ebbett, who Michigan coach Red Berenson describes as being
“as smart a player as we have,” is the closest thing
the Wolverines have to a master chess player. But Ebbett makes his
moves on the ice, not the chessboard.

The clearest way to see how Ebbett resembles a chess players
like Bobby Fischer or Gary Casparov is simply to look at him.
Ebbett is the smallest player on the team at 5-foot-9 and 170
pounds. At first glance, you might wonder how he’s able to
survive checks from players that are sometimes as much as eight
inches taller and 60 pounds heavier than him.

That’s where his hockey I.Q. comes into play.

“I think he makes up for (his size disadvantage) because
he’s smart,” linemate David Moss said. “He finds
a way to keep himself open and keep his feet open.”

Michigan assistant coach Billy Powers said that what makes
Ebbett stand out is the “presence” that he brings to
the ice.

“You don’t even worry about (Ebbett’s)
line,” Powers said. “He’s in charge —
he’ll make sure that line plays well. It gives you a luxury
as a coach. He just doesn’t need a whole lot.”

Ebbett has definitely made his mark on the score sheet. So far
this season, Ebbett is second on the team in total points (27) and
assists (21). He also leads the team in multiple-point games with
11.

After a minute of thought, Powers elevated his characterization
of Ebbett to a much higher level.

“To be honest, the guy that he reminds me most of, and
obviously he’s not as prolific, would be (Brendan)
Morrison,” Powers said. “Brendan wasn’t a big guy
either. He just had that way about him that felt like he was in
charge.”

The comparison is a lofty one for the sophomore. Morrision,
winner of the Hobey Baker Award and an alternate captain on the
1996 National Championship squad, holds many spots in the Michigan
record book, including being the all-time leading scorer in
Michigan history.

Ebbett, like the Wolverines in general, has been on fire lately.
He currently has a five-game point streak, including a goal and
three assists in the two games against Alaska-Fairbanks last
weekend.

“Coming back from the (winter) break, he has been
dynamite,” Powers said. “His stats show it, his
plus-minus shows it and our victories show it. Our win-loss record
is indicative of him stepping up, too.”

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