Ference answers the call

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

 CALGARY -- Andrew Ference isn't the first player to be on the ice for almost half of each game in the Stanley Cup Final.

 But he may be the first, er, Andrew Ference.

  The Sherwood Park product came into the playoffs this year as a journeyman defenceman.

 Suddenly he's a horse.

 And a headliner.

 Ference led all Flames with 27:02 of playing time in Game 1 and then topped the team again in Game 2, logging 25:02 despite spending time in the penalty box at the end of the game after assuming the role of team policeman in taking on Tampa's Cory Stillman in a late-game fight after the former Flame done somebody wrong.

 "He's playing a lot of minutes and give him credit,'' says Darryl Sutter.

 "He's a small man with a big heart. He's giving us all he can,'' he added of the 25-year-old who was acquired for a conditional draft choice from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 Sutter took the question to call out yet another Flame. He did it with Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff after the first game of the playoffs, later with Martin Gelinas and several others during the Flames' Stanley Cup run.

 "Ference is playing a lot of minutes because we need Jordan Leopold to play better for us to have a chance to win. I don't know if Jordan hit 20 minutes in either game. We certainly need more than that.''

 Ference is a big believer in Sutter and said the coach is simply being consistent.

 "I hate to kiss the coach's butt, but he's prepared to call out anyone who is giving less than he is capable of producing. He demands and expects the most out of each individual.

 "He's called out Iggy and Gelinas. He's called out myself.''

 Ference says the minutes are irrelevant.

 "I'm showing a lot of minutes but I'm not even looking at that,'' said Ference, who led all of major junior hockey with a plus 75 in 1998 with the Portland Winter Hawks.

 "I just want to win. Not too many guys are looking at the stat sheet after each game to see how many minutes they played.''

 Ference said it's not an expanded role, exactly, his taking on Stillman in a fight.

 "Throw Mike Tyson out there," Ference said. "I'm sure anybody on this team would fight him for the Cup. I know what my team is willing to do to win the Cup."

 Ference, who played his minor hockey in Strathcona County, settled on Stillman, the former Flame who just may become Public Enemy No. 1 here for Games 3 and 4.

 "I asked Stillman if he wanted to fight,'' Ference simply stated.

 "We're a team of sore losers,'' he laughed.


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