Pool popularity has its privileges

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 2:38 PM ET


 Now that's some playoff payoff.

 Playing for Pittsburgh in the 2001 playoffs, Flames defenceman Andrew Ference racked up an incredible 10 points in 18 games.

 He was, in essence, a poolie's dream come true.

 That status came in handy later in the summer when he was stopped by a police officer while en route to see his now-wife.

 "I was driving my Harley from Edmonton to Whistler to go see her and, somewhere in the mountains, I was ripping pretty good," Ference recalled.

 "Then I heard the sirens come on.

 "I was really worried because I was pretty young and my insurance was pretty high already, so I was sweating bullets.

 "(The police officer) came up, saw the Pennsylvania plate on my bike and asked what I was doing there.

 "I told him I was going to see my girlfriend and he took my licence with him to the car.

 "He comes back a couple of minutes later and said, 'You guys had a great run and it's your lucky day. I had you in my pool and you did really well for me. I just need to write you a warning, so I can show the boys at the shop I got my Number One pool pick. It would be wrong to give you a ticket.'

 "I didn't speed any more after that."

 If Ference can duplicate that spring for the Flames in this post-season, Calgary will be loving every minute of it.

 His stellar 2001 playoff performance was aided by his fortunate situation.

 "We were good but never really got it together until the end of the year," Ference recalled.

 "Mario (Lemieux) came back and was on fire. He would come back to the defensive zone, carry the puck all the way down the ice and control the whole game.

 "Plus, (Jaromir) Jagr was flying, so we had a great team.

 "I was called up right before the trade deadline and right away was put on the powerplay.

 "Our unit was me, Mario, Jagr, (Martin) Straka and (Alexei) Kovalev. I'm looking at myself and felt I didn't belong.

 "But I knew my job. It was simple: Get them the puck.

 "I wasn't expected to dangle or make the big play, just get the puck to those guys."

 Although he won't be skating with that kind of lineup this time, Ference insists the experience will help him when the Flames begin the second season.

 "The playoffs are a whole new level, that's why you always see certain guys -- certain types of players -- rise up. It's a different mindset," he said.

 "I was able to keep an even keel. I was young but didn't feel the pressure other guys have to make all the difference. For me, it's an exciting time.

 "It's the only time I've made the playoffs in my career. Getting to the semis is a big deal, the experience is priceless."


Videos

Photos