The Wolverine

February 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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  where are they now?   where are they Now? Hockey Player Brian Lebler Will Play For Austria In The 2014 Olympic Games B By Michael Spath rian Lebler was not unlike most of the wide-eyed freshman hockey players that step foot in Yost for the very first time, scale the stairs leading to the second-floor locker room and take their seat in a stall with their name emblazoned above a hanging maize and blue jersey — dreaming of one day continuing his career in the NHL. However, Lebler never made it that far. He was signed by Anaheim following his senior season at Michigan in 2010 and spent his first year of professional hockey battling injury and bouncing between the AHL's Syracuse Crunch and the ECHL's Elmira Jackals. That lone campaign, in which he played in 31 games and scored two goals, could have marked the end for Lebler, but the 6-2, 205-pound winger was determined to make another go of it, and he found opportunity in his native country, returning to Austria after leaving the country when he was 4 years old for a home in Penticton, British Columbia. "After my injury-prone season in the AHL/ECHL and average play, I was unable to find a good job, so I turned to Europe and was able to sign with Linz in the EBEL [Erste Bank Eishockey Liga]," Lebler said. "My experience has been amazing. We've had a successful team over the years, and the people and organization have Lebler now plays in a pro league in Austria and has earned a roster spot on the Austria Olympic Team that will compete in the 2014 Sochi Games, Feb. 7-23. Photo courtesy Brian Lebler treated me well." In 39 games as a rookie with Linz EHC in 2011-12, Lebler scored 11 goals and had eight assists, proving he could play at an elite level. He experienced a breakthrough season in 2012-13, netting 31 goals with 22 helpers in 52 games, and this year he is on pace to best those marks, tallying 26 goals and 17 assists in 43 contests through Jan. 15. "Last season there was a opportunity to play on one of the top lines,

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