Even as a kid, when he was just beginning to learn about the
sport of ice hockey, Michigan sophomore Jeff Tambellini was always
good at firing slapshots at any part of the net.
“Right from the get-go, the one thing I could always do
was put the puck over the goalie’s shoulder,”
Tambellini said. “When the goalies are seven years old and
can’t even reach the top of the net, my thing was always to
try to put it over their head. It’s something I’ve had
from day one.”
Today, the goalies that he faces are bigger, but his rocket
slapshot (when a player brings his stick back as a sort of windup
before shooting) and even better wristshot (where a player pushes
the puck at the net with a flick of the wrist) continue to be the
main reasons he is an elite player.
It is easy to see why Michigan’s opponents fear him,
especially on the powerplay. With the man-advantage, Tambellini is
usually positioned at the blueline or near the faceoff circle. When
he has the puck, if he so much as moves his stick back to begin a
slapshot, the defender will quickly sprawl along the ice to prevent
the puck from ever reaching the goal.
For Tambellini, the slapshot and the wristshot were strengths at
an early age, but it has taken hard work and endless practice to
keep it that way.
“You have to have be in control and be able to shoot in
stride,” the Port Moody, British Columbia, native said.
“We don’t get to stand still and let the puck loose.
You’ve got to be able to move and control the puck at the
same time and have it in the right spots so that when you release
it, your whole body is moving in one motion.”
Time in the weight room also pays off.
Tambellini said: “It’s all about power from your
legs. It also involves surprising the goalie, so you have to have
quick wrists and put all your strength into it.”
Accuracy is essential, and it requires timing and
“It’s a learned art to be able to read the goalie
and look down, and then get your head back up and find your target
again,” the forward said. “There’s a lot of
deception involved in it.”
Snipers also have to learn how to deal with and overcome slumps.
Tambellini has been sitting at nine goals since Nov. 8 and had
scoring chances throughout last weekend’s series against Lake
“I get to watch guys like (Detroit Red Wings forward)
Brett Hull,” Tambellini said. “Hull went through a
20-game slump. I’ve just got to keep shooting the puck
… and sooner or later it’s going to start going my
Michigan coach Red Berenson shares his optimism for the coming
“I think he’s a marked player,” Berenson said.
“Last year he slipped between the cracks because he
wasn’t well known.
“With the way our team is developing, it’s going to
be hard for other teams to pinpoint him when we’ve got (other
lines) playing well.”