Ferland in offensive groove with Blades
CALGARY, AB -- There was nothing that could wipe the smile off Michael Ferland’s face.
It was minutes after his Saskatoon Blades had extended their franchise record winning streak to 17-games and Ferland
had been playing the best stretch of hockey in his career, contributing 24 points in that timeframe.
Ferland got his groove back.
It’s a far cry from where his confidence level was earlier on in the season.
After last season which saw him score 96 points in 68 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, the Calgary Flames assigned the 20-year-old to the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League to start the year.
But he couldn’t crack the lineup.
By the Christmas break, the 6’1”, 210 pound left winger had only seen action in seven games with the Heat and three games with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL.
He was reassigned back to the Brandon Wheat Kings just before the New Year.
“I just wanted to come back and get my groove back,” said Ferland, who was selected in the 5th round (133rd overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft by the Flames. “I didn’t feel like the player I was last year at all and wasn’t feeling it up in Abbotsford. I was just happy to come back down and get playing again.”
Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster said at the time, “Based on the depth of our team in Abbotsford, and the limited game minutes that Michael is currently able to get there, we felt that it would be in the best interest of his development to return to the WHL, where he can get the minutes that we want him to have, and continue to grow his skill and confidence.”
The Wheat Kings, Ferland’s hometown team, were in the midst of a rebuild, and he knew his time with Brandon was likely not going to last long.
It was only four games to be exact. At the WHL trade deadline on January 10th, he was dealt to the Blades in exchange for a first round draft pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.
“I was a little upset playing there for three years and being my hometown but I was just excited to get that call to say I was coming here,” Ferland said. "I talked to (Wheat Kings GM) Kelly McCrimmon and I told him that he could trade me wherever he wants and I’m just happy I’m here.”
Now Ferland was going to be playing for the MasterCard Memorial Cup as Saskatoon is the host of the tournament.
Two weeks after the trade, the Blades transformed to the hottest team in the CHL, racking up win after win, with Ferland playing a major role in the turnaround.
“He’s made a huge difference to this group because he’s a dominant player, a physical player and not many players want anything to do with him,” said Lorne Molleken, head coach and general manager of the Blades. “He’s meant a lot to our locker room and certainly he’s worked to get his game timing back and he’s worked hard with a personal trainer.”
Unfortunately, the Blades’ winning streak ended at 18 games thanks to an overtime loss at the hands of the Moose Jaw Warriors and the point streak was stopped one game later by the Calgary Hitmen.
But Ferland’s excited for what the rest of the season brings, which will end with a date in the Memorial Cup.
“I’ve been playing well, the team has been playing well and I think things are going good,” he noted.
It’ll be his last crack at the Canadian junior hockey championship. Next year, he’ll be back in the pro ranks.