February 10th, 2003


Flames Acquire Help on the Blue

Calgary Injuries Lead to Air Lift of Andrew Ference

by D'Arcy McGrath

One day after Peter Forsberg and the Colorado Avalanche were allowed to run rough shod over the young Calgary defence, general manager Craig Button pulled the trigger on some help.

Coming to Calgary is Pittsburgh defenceman Andrew Ference, a former Portland Winterhawk and World Junior star.

With Robyn Regehr, Denis Gauthier and Peter Buzek all on the sidelines, the move for conditional draft picks in either 2003 or 2004 - is more of a depth move than an Earth shaker, but should still help the team down the road.

Initially, Ference can jump straight into the lineup and afford the team to send a less experienced defenceman down to Saint John as Calgary's injury woes have left their AHL club stripped bare.

When the Flames do get more healthy, the versatile Ference should provide a strong battle to the bottom end of the Flames depth chart, namely Buzek, Steve Montador and/or Jordan Leopold for the 5th and 6th spots on a nightly basis.

Ference is slight for a defenceman, standing only 5.10 and weighing in at only 190 pounds, but can help out with the club's powerplay, plus play a regular shift.

Ironically, Ference has been acquired to temporarily replace a former defence pair partner in Robyn Regehr. Regehr and Ference teamed up at the 1998-99 World Junior Championships for Canada. That Canadian team also featured Calgary farmhand Blair Betts, plus former Flame prospects Daniel Tkaczuk and Rico Fata.

"Andrew is a solid all around player who will contribute to our team," said Button. "He skates and handles the puck well and is dependable. He is a strong and serious competitor who will help our team both defensively and offensively."

Ference has played 163 NHL games through four seasons with the Penguins. He has scored 11 goals, and added 25 assists. This season Ference has dressed for 22 Pens games and has a goal and three helpers.

Andrew should not be confused with his name sake Brad Ference, a defenceman for the Florida Panthers that made hockey headlines for fighting with Penguin owner and captain Mario Lemieux.

Ference will take to the ice with his new teammates when they battle the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Wednesday night in Southern California.


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