CLINT TRAHAN/ABBOTSFORD HEAT
After a slow start, Brandonite Mike Ferland has five goals and 16 points in his last 12 AHL games with the Abbotsford Heat.
A display of confidence from the Abbotsford Heat coaching staff rubbed off on Mike Ferland.
The 21-year-old Brandonite’s professional hockey career got off to a sluggish start, but the Calgary Flames prospect has caught fire in the last month in the American Hockey League.
Ferland, who played in two Memorial Cups as a junior with the Brandon Wheat Kings and the Saskatoon Blades, failed to register a point in his first 11 contests with Abbotsford this season.
Since then, he’s done a complete 180, picking up points in 10 of his last 12 games, with five goals and 11 assists in that span.
Ferland credits head coach Troy Ward’s decision to put him alongside two of the team’s top forwards for the turnaround.
"I was playing with some really good players, like Ben Street and Blair Jones (who is now up in the National Hockey League with the Calgary Flames), and I really think that’s what kind of got me going," Ferland said. "It got my confidence up. …
"It’s good to get the monkey off your back, and I think after I got the first (goal), I’ve been really comfortable on the ice."
A 6-foot-2, 215-pound power forward, Ferland was chosen by Calgary in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL draft. Although he racked up as many as 96 points in a Western Hockey League season with the Wheat Kings, it took some time for his scoring touch to show up in the pro ranks.
Ferland’s rookie campaign got off to a rough start last year when he faced charges stemming from an off-season fight outside a bar in Cochrane, Alta. — a matter that is still before the courts — and he was admittedly out of shape, seeing only limited ice time in Abbotsford and with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL before being sent back to Brandon at the Christmas break.
Ferland was shipped to the Memorial Cup hosts at the trade deadline and spent the rest of the season in Saskatoon before returning to Abbotsford this fall.
"Last year I think prepared me with what to expect, and what (the Flames) expect of a professional athlete," Ferland said. "I had a really good summer and it’s really paying off."
The next obvious step for Ferland in his professional career is to try and work his way back east and earn a big-league spot in Calgary.
But with his own opportunity increasing and Abbotsford enjoying a fine season, leading the AHL with an 19-6-1-1 record, Ferland is content to bide his time in the minors, working on his game and waiting for the day the Flames deem him ready to call up for NHL duty.
"It’d be nice to be up there, but I think they have plans for me," Ferland said. "I’m here for now; I just want to make do with that and just keep playing hockey and having fun.
"When they think it’s time for me to go up, I’ll go up."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 10, 2013