Game On Magazine November 2015 - Page 47

Micheal Ferland: LEAVING THE PAST BEHIND Nobody has worked harder than Swan River/Brandon’s Micheal Ferland to get to the NHL. Of course, few have made the lifestyle and behavioral changes that Ferland has made. His rookie season in The Show was better than he’d hoped and then, on the final day, and into the playoffs, it got even better. “A great kid,” gets his just reward. By Scott Taylor Photos by Jeff Miller and Courtesy wheatkings.com L ast spring, Micheal Ferland (and yes, that spelling of Micheal is correct) was the talk of the Stanley Cup playoffs. No wonder. The 23-year-old former Brandon Wheat Kings’ star made a complete mess of the Vancouver Canucks’ dream of winning a Cup. In fact, in the decisive Game 6, he started the Flames comeback from a 3-0 deficit with a goal late in the first period. Then he set up Matt Stajan’s winner late in the third and topped it off with an empty-netter at 19:58 of the third. From the 17:02 mark of the first period (Ferland’s first goal) to the final buzzer, the Flames outscored the Canucks 7-1 and won 7-4. Not surprisingly, Ferland was the difference. He scored goals, set up goals and beat the beejeezus out of the Canucks. He’d arrived. He was a Hockey Night in Canada star: A tough, committed, nasty, goal-scoring, playoff talking point. And that’s why no one was surprised when, just before the 2015-16 season began, he was rewarded for his terrific rookie campaign. The 23-year-old restricted free agent agreed to terms with the Flames on a $1.65-million US, two-year deal. “Everyone was asking when it was going to get done,” Ferland said. “I wasn’t worried, I knew it was going to get done soon. It was just a matter of time. I’m really excited. I’m just really happy that it’s finished and I can start focusing on hockey. I’m really honoured.” It seems that in just one six-game playoff series this previously fourth-line rookie emerged as one of the most dominating figures in the 2015 post-season. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact, one year earlier he was in rehab. It’s been a remarkable journey for a kid who is on the cusp of becoming one of the NHL’s next great players. And if Micheal Ferland becomes as good as the Calgary Flames’ brass believes he will, it’s all on him. • • • Micheal Ferland figured that the biggest thrill of his young professional hockey life would be to play in Winnipeg in front of his family and friends. He had no idea that it could actually get better than that. Ferland, who was born in Swan River and spent most of his young life in Brandon, fought tooth and nail to become a National Hockey League player. His mom, Dianne, who had worked as a dietary aide at a nursing home in Swan River, often worked two jobs, sometimes three, to make sure Micheal had the opportunity to play the game at the highest level. This was a family that often had to live in public housing, but there was no quit in either of them. Dianne, who is always front and centre at Micheal’s games, was never afraid to ask for help. Kidsport and the Manitoba Metis Federation often provided it. No matter how far he took the game, Micheal was going to have a chance to play hockey. Dianne was going to see to that. That’s why, on April 11, 2015, with his mom and 15 of his closest friends and family members in attendance, Ferland lived a childhood dream – playing pro hockey, essentially at home. Little did he know, something even better was on its way. “I was really happy when coach said that our line (Ferland with centre Sam Bennett and rightwinger Josh Jooris) would start,” said Ferland, shortly after his Calgary Flames were beaten 5-1 by the Winnipeg Jets. “The puck