DAYTON, Ohio — The pair stood in a parking lot under a
deep pink and purple sky. One wore a blue warm-up suit, the other a
red one. Two rumbling buses waited for them just a few feet
away.

Michigan junior Jeff Tambellini — who was clad in blue
— was about to hop on his bus for the ride back to Ann Arbor
after the hockey team’s 7-2 win over Boston University in its
final game at the Lefty McFadden Invitational on Saturday. His
crimson counterpart — Terrier junior forward David Van der
Gulik — had another night in an Ohio hotel ahead of him
before yesterday’s early-morning flight back to
Massachusetts.

But for just a moment, the two took advantage of a rare
opportunity to catch up with one another.

Tambellini and Van der Gulik — who hail from Port Moody,
B.C., and Abbotsford, B.C., respectively — have known each
other since they began playing together for the Chilliwack Chiefs
of the British Columbia Hockey League in 2000. In fact, they were
linemates for about a year before the two headed off on their
separate paths two years ago.

“It’s fun to come back and see guys (you used to
play with) and to be able to play against them,” Tambellini
said. “You see a different side of the relationship, I
guess.”

Last weekend was just the second time the two have faced each
other on the ice since their days of junior league hockey. The
first contest was held on Dec. 29, 2002, in the Great Lakes
Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Both Tambellini and Van
der Gulik scored game-tying goals, but in the end, then-No. 10
Michigan was upset by then-No. 14 Boston University, 5-4. Saturday
night’s game may have given Tambellini some sense of
retribution in head-to-head competition against his former
teammate.

“I guess (Michigan) evened up the score,” Van der
Gulik said with a smile.

From an individual standpoint, Tambellini was far more
impressive than Van der Gulik in the second showdown. The Michigan
forward and alternate captain chalked up three assists —
including a helper on Michael Woodford’s game-winning goal in
the first period — and accumulated a plus-three rating, while
Van der Gulik had just two penalty minutes to show for on the stat
sheet. But neither player’s performance prevented the duo
from joking around before saying their temporary goodbyes.

“I wouldn’t want to play him all the time because I
would beat up on him too much,” Van der Gulik said as the two
broke into laughter. “I could have lined him up there, but I
didn’t. I kind of took it easy on him a little.”

Despite their conflicting schedules, Tambellini and Van der
Gulik make time for each other during the year and in the
off-season.

“We talk throughout the year to see how each other is
doing,” Tambellini said. “We went golfing this summer.
It’s definitely fun to keep in touch.”

Having known each other since Tambellini was 15 and Van der
Gulik was 16, it’s hard for the former Chiefs to forget that
hockey isn’t a life-or-death matter. As the one-time
linemates and long-time friends prepared to split up yet again,
friendship seemed more important than wins and losses, goals and
assists.

“In the back of your mind, you remember that it’s
still a game,” Van der Gulik said. “You’re not
going out there to kill each other.”

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