Tambellini Opening Up Eyes
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, February 10, 2007

When Jeff Tambellini was traded to the Islanders last season, he hoped it would provide the fresh new start the former first-round pick needed to get his promising career moving in the right direction. After getting 55 games into the 2007 season, it seems he got his wish.

Two weeks ago however, things didn’t quite look that way.

Despite making the team out of training camp, Tambellini was shipped back to Bridgeport after only one game and it didn’t look like he was coming back any time soon. That is until the injury bug almost devoured the team and the youngster was recalled from Bridgeport to replace the injured and inconsistent Shawn Bates.

Playing a huge role in Tambellini’s call-up was the fact that he made the team of out training camp and he was leading the Isles AHL affiliate in Bridgeport in goals, assists, points and +/-. However, Tambellini’s teammates on the Isles could care less about his achievements in the AHL this season and instead cite his work ethic as the biggest reason why he’s skating on the same ice as them right now.

“He showed up in Yarmouth far from an incumbent and caught Ted Nolan's attention through sheer hard work,” said Islanders defenseman Chris Campoli on the team’s official website.

Now Tambellini is one of the Islanders hottest offensive players, racking up four assists since he returned to the team five games ago and has found a home on a line with a pair of the team’s most talented offensive players, Miroslav Satan and Viktor Kozlov.

“I had a good feeling about Jeff because I saw him in training camp and you could see he worked very hard over the summer,” Satan told Newsday. “He was shooting the puck hard and making plays. He has a lot of energy, so I had a good feeling he might fit with us.”

Satan then talked how great it was to be a part of Tambellini’s first game back with the team.

“He was the first guy on every puck in the corner and he gave us a chance to get there and help him out and start a forecheck,” Satan told Newsday after Tambellini had three assists while playing on a line with Satan and Viktor Kozlov. “Basically and prevented them from making the play and getting out. We spent much more time in the offensive zone as a result of it. That’s why we had such a good game.”

Unlike most young players who seem to be pumped full of confidence, emotions and cockiness, Tambellini was quick to dodge attention from him and deflect it back to his linemates.

“I've had the opportunity to jump in with two great players in Satan and Kozlov. I hope to help by adding my speed to that line. It was a good feeling contributing in the first game,” said Tambellini on the Isles official website. “It gets things going and makes your linemates happy. They might be thinking, ‘who's this 22-year old kid jumping into the lineup,’ so it's nice to contribute early. Luckily, we had a good first game. My linemates have been playing well recently and it's been working well so far.”

With the Islanders still three points back of a playoff spot with less than 30 games remaining, they hope the points keep coming Tambellini’s way.