McCready, Ferry looking up

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Like one of his trademark open-ice hits, Matt McCready never saw getting traded from the London Knights coming.

The 18-year-old Kingsville native, who helped London win the Memorial Cup last year, played his first game against his former club as a member of the Sarnia Sting yesterday at the John Labatt Centre. He admitted moving over with former Knight first-rounder Steve Ferry in the deal for big defenceman Matt Pelech helped soften the biggest blow of his hockey career.

"It's (being traded) probably the hardest thing I've had to do in my life," McCready said. "You make a lot of friends and then you're out of there. It helped that it was me and Steve because you have somebody who knows exactly what you're going through."

While McCready was surprised, Ferry had an inkling his career with the Knights was coming to an end. He is the second London first-round pick to be traded by Mark Hunter in the past three years (2003 top pick Tommy Mannino went to Windsor and is now with Saginaw).

"I kind of knew it was on the way, but it's still not something that's easy to deal with," said Ferry, a 17-year-old Richmond Hill native. "I didn't report (to Sarnia) right away to finish up at school and there were also some personal issues."

Ferry and Pelech each scored their first goals with their new teams in yesterday's 3-1 London victory over the Sting at the John Labatt Centre. Pelech makes his first return to Sarnia tonight, which will also be Ferry's home debut with his new club.

Returning to the JLC was "not as hard as people think," Ferry said. "I have a lot of friends here and I enjoyed playing here so, once the game starts, you just play as hard as you can."

The toughest part is going from a contending team to a squad struggling to make the playoffs. London is again leading the Western Conference while Sarnia finds itself at the bottom, although still within striking distance of a playoff spot.

"It would be good to play (against London) in the playoffs and play against some buddies," McCready said. "But the most important thing for us is to make the playoffs. That's our goal and we know that every game we play now is one we have to win."

McCready and Ferry, who are paired together on the Sting blue-line, are getting a chance to play a bigger part with their new team.

"We're getting a lot of ice time and Steve and I are the defencemen on the second power-play unit," McCready said.

That didn't happen in London, which favours the five-forward setup.

Pelech played with the man advantage yesterday for London but that could change when David Bolland and Rob Schremp return from the world juniors. He will likely log a lot of ice time, especially since 20-year-old Frank Rediker hasn't skated with the Knights in a month.

"I hope to be back skating next week and then we'll take it from there," Rediker said yesterday.


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