Sports Hockey

For the love of the game 0

DOUG GRAHAM

The Fergie is a prized award handed out annually to the player selected first in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Now the man for whom the award is named, Jack Ferguson, is riding into the sunset of his 50th year of involvement in junior hockey.

The Scarborough resident, who has been married to wife Jackie for 52 years, has been in a lot of hockey rinks over that stretch.

"Fifty-two years married, fifty in hockey and 48 years in the same house," cracked Ferguson, 76.

"I've done it for nothing. I did it for a living and now I am back to doing it for nothing."

Ferguson, who offers opinions to scouts and executives for many OHL clubs, said he wouldn't trade all those years for anything.

"It has been a great ride," Ferguson said. "I'm a pretty lucky man in this world to do something I love to do for so long. It started in houseleague hockey and now after all these years I am ending up in houseleague hockey."

By that, he means watching grandson Connor Platt play minor atom AA for Whitby. Fergus on also still keeps an eye out for prospects for the junior leagues.

"I'm going to the Silver Stick in Whitby. That's a double for me," said Ferguson, noting he will see some good midget hockey and also get to follow his grandson's team in action.

Ferguson was the director of OHL Central Scouting for 18 years, beginning in 1981. His term was over a 20-year span because he went to work for the Washington Capitals of the NHL for a couple of years.

He found he was spending too much time away from home in the pro ranks.

"I said to my boss (while Ferguson was) in Portland, Oregon, 'I thought I was the eastern region scout,' " Ferguson said.

The fondest times for Ferguson when he was the director of Central Scouting were the days leading up to the draft. In those years, the draft was held on the first Saturday in June in an arena setting.

Ferguson would arrive four days before draft day and he would be meeting one-on-one with players, getting a real sense of their draft value.

"I miss that so much. That was always a very exciting time," Ferguson said.

"I really feel like when you are talking about a Doug Gilmour or a Scott Arniel, you want to meet them.

"Now (the scouts) never get to sit down with the players."

Ferguson used to on the draft floor during those days and he would proudly talk about the virtues of a first-round pick or a 10th-round pick.

He said besides the draft being conducted via the internet, the biggest change now is that agents and parents are much more involved in the draft process.

"Personally I liked to be one-on-one with a player. You need to do that to really find out about a player," Ferguson said.

He has been retired from his only full-time job for 12 years now. After getting into "a little funk" for a few years, Ferguson is pushing himself away from the television and getting back out in the arenas.

"When you get older it is harder to get there. As long as I can get myself there, I will do it," Ferguson said.

"It was a great ride. Even though I miss it, I don't, if you know what I mean.

"But I still have got it in my head."

Around the O

The Saginaw Spirit, No. 5 in the latest CHL rankings and with a 10-point lead in the West Division, are receiving MVPlike goaltending from Mavric Parks. The well-travelled Parks, who has played for Kingston and Barrie in the Eastern Conference and had two stints with the Kitchener Rangers, is posting stellar numbers for the Spirit. Parks has a .930 save percentage, a 2.48 goals-against average and an 11-4 record. The Eganville native is in his overage season and sports the usual No. 49.

doug.graham@sunmedia.ca

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The Big Games

This week's key OHL matchups

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The Greyhounds and Wolves are not giving their fans much to be excited about. Nothing like a northern rivalry to spike the interest.

Saturday, 7:11 p.m.

Windsor's Nick Czinder returns from sitting out five games, a result of the last meeting between these two. Stephen Johnston's game-winning goal at 19:48 further reason for the Spirit to be sour over Windsor's return.

Sunday, 2 p.m.

On Grey Cup Sunday, the Frontenacs tackle the 67's in the third meeting between the East- Division rivals. Neither team has won on home ice in the first two.

Scoring Leaders

Not including last night's games

GAP Jason Akeson, Kit. 12 34 46 Ryan Martindale, Ott. 17 23 40 Garrett Wilson, OS 19 20 39 Shane Prince, Ott. 9 30 39 Tyler Toffoli, Ott. 22 16 38 Ryan Murphy, Kit. q 11 26 37 Nail Yakupov, Sar. 17 19 36 Nathan Moon, King. 15 20 35 Kale Kerbashian, Sar. 14 21 35 Ryan Strome, Nia. 10 25 35 Gabriel Landeskog, Kit. 19 15 34 Christian Thomas, Osh. 17 16 33 Zack Kassian, Win. 9 24 33 Alex Khokhlachev, Win. 11 21 32 Greg McKegg, Erie 14 17 31 Joey Hishon, OS 14 16 30 Justin Shugg, Miss. 14 15 29 Brandon Saad, Sag. 16 12 28 Brett Thompson, Sault. 15 13 28 Richard Panik, Bell. 13 15 28

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The book on ...

Daniel Catenacci, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

When it comes to pure speed in the OHL, Dan Catenacci, the first overall selection in the 2009 draft, is right at the top of the class. After an average rookie season, Catenacci is much more comfortable and effective in his sophomore season.

Season Stats G PG A Pts PIM +/- 24 12 15 27 34 -1

Strengths: Sault general manager Dave Torrie said Catenacci has emerged as the team's top player at both ends of the ice.

"He has top-notch speed, one of the fastest in our league," Torrie said.

Good puck-handling skills and a good shot go with the Catenacci package.

"His tenacity and his speed are what sets him apart," Torrie said.

Weaknesses: While his play away from the puck has improved, Catenacci, like all young players in the league, is still building his game in that area.

Rating out of five

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