Ferland is skilled, tough Wheat King
Flames pick poised to give Hitmen fits
By Kristen Odland, Calgary Herald
March 22, 2012
Calgary Flames prospect Michael Ferland, front, practises with his Wheat Kings teammates Wednesday at the Saddledome.
Photograph by: Dean Bicknell, Calgary Herald , Calgary Herald
Michael Ferland has built a reputation in the Western Hockey League for being one of the toughest players to square off against.
Which, of course, is nothing but good news if you are a Calgary Flames fan - but not if you're a Calgary Hitmen fan.
Heading into tonight's playoff clash, the skilled Brandon Wheat Kings winger and 2010 Flames draft pick is a clear threat in more ways than one.
"He's a unique player in that he has a really high skill level and he's one of, if not, the toughest player in the league," said Wheat Kings general manager Kelly McCrimmon. "That combination isn't that common."
Between Ferland and linemates captain Mark Stone and Brenden Walker, the unit accumulated 300 points this season. But at six-foot-two and 208 pounds, the 19-year-old's size, strength and the way he uses both, are also an asset.
"He loves to play physical and likes to fight," McCrimmon said. "He's a hard guy to play against; he plays for keeps. Strong on the puck, protects the puck well.
"I know when he plays the game the right way, he's hard to handle."
As the sixth seed, the Wheat Kings and Ferland begin the first two games of the post-season in Calgary.
Which suits the Swan River, Man., native just fine.
"Even before I was drafted here, I liked this rink," said Ferland, who was dubbed an Eastern Conference second-team all-star Wednesday and finished ninth in league scoring, just ahead of fellow Flames prospect Sven Baertschi. "It's a great atmosphere.
"Coming into this year, I wanted to have a better year than I did last year. It's been great so far."
The Wheaties made a strong push, going 7-2-0-1 in their last 10 regular-season games, including a home-and-home series sweep against the Regina Pats last weekend.
Corbin Boes, meanwhile, finished with the league's third highest save percentage (0.916) while defence-man Ran Pulock finished third among defencemen with 41 assists and 60 points. The Wheaties also boast the league's third-best power play, clicking at 26.3 per cent, behind No. 2 Edmonton (27.6) and No. 1 Port-land (29.1).
Against the Hitmen, however, the Wheat Kings went 1-3 this season and know what Calgary brings to the table.
"They're a good team and have a lot of skill up front," said Stone, who was No. 2 in league scoring with 41 goals and 82 assists in 66 games. "We match up well and it's going to be a tough series.
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