LAVAL - Thomas Ebbing had already covered a lot of ground by the end of October, having been recalled and sent back to the ECHL's Brampton Beast several times by the Laval Rocket.
Martin Reway's early-season departure and Michael McCarron and Nikita Scherbak, among others, being called up to the big club opened the door for the 23-year-old forward to make the jump to the AHL ranks. It's an opportunity he isn't about to squander.
"I think I should be here. It's the start of my professional career, so I'm taking it one step at a time," affirmed Ebbing. "But I think my style of play fits well in the AHL. I'm hoping I can do some good things here in Laval and stay up as long as possible."
As for that style of play, Ebbing describes himself as a well-rounded, detail-oriented hockey player.
"I like to think I'm a good two-way player - a center who likes to focus on the little things, on the power play, on the penalty kill, on faceoffs, etc.," outlined Ebbing, who spent the past four years at Michigan State University. "I'm always more concerned about my game in the defensive end and obviously, if I can create some offense on top of that, it's a plus."
Several months after earning his Bachelor's degree in Economics, the Troy, MI native admits that he's been enjoying his exam-free lifestyle.
"I didn't know what to expect out of my first year as a professional, but it's definitely different than university. I have nothing to concern myself with now but hockey. I do miss university, though, because a lot of my friends are still there," he admitted. "I was there for four years and I loved the school. It was a good one. It's a big school."
For Ebbing, getting a good education before embarking on a career in professional hockey was of prime importance.
"It was important for me in terms of what comes after hockey. Education is important in my family. And I know we're all just one injury away from ending our career. You never know what can happen, so the more you can educate yourself, the better," explained the 5-foot-11, 192-pound pivot. "The student-athlete life helped me learn how to manage my time well and develop some leadership skills."
That said, Ebbing is happy that certain aspects of his student life are in the rearview mirror now.
"There are also some things that I don't really miss, like pulling all-nighters studying," he acknowledged. "Those were four great years and I'm happy I did it, but now I've moved on to something else. Now, I need to find what to do with my free time."
Student-athletes are notorious for their expert time management skills. Between practices, games, classes, work and studying, free time often just doesn't exist on campus. And while Ebbing may no longer have anything on his docket besides practices and games, he doesn't want that to turn him into a couch potato the rest of the time.
"Here, we have to take advantage of all this free time. You have to rest, but you also have to stay active. You can't stay in bed all day. I want to try to keep my mind sharp by reading for pleasure, and by staying away from the TV and the computer," explained the former NCAA player. "I have a lot of friends who have played at this level and I often ask them what they do, so I can follow their lead.
"I'm just trying to find something to do, maybe discover a new hobby," added Ebbing, who said he's open to suggestions.
Ebbing understands that his two-way (AHL/ECHL) contract might mean a lot of shuttling between the two teams, and he's made it a goal to not let his travel plans throw him off his game.
"I don't want to get frustrated by all this back and forth. It's part of the sport. This year, I just want to focus on improving my game," he concluded. "Obviously, it's nothing but hockey for me now, so I'm coming to the rink every day to learn."