Andrew Ference's Top 6 Highlights in 6 Years as a Boston Bruin

Al DanielCorrespondent IIJune 29, 2013

Andrew Ference's Top 6 Highlights in 6 Years as a Boston Bruin

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    With this week’s announcement that the Boston Bruins will not re-sign pending free-agent defenseman Andrew Ference, the Stanley Cup runners-up are down another holdover from the franchise’s resurgence campaign.

    Ference’s departure, owed to financial constraints from the NHL’s upcoming salary-cap reduction, leaves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci as the only active players who made their Boston debuts before 2007-08. In other words, they are the only ones left who lived through the Dave Lewis disaster of 2006-07 that precipitated the hiring of head coach Claude Julien and executive Cam Neely.

    The Bruins acquired Ference, along with forward Chuck Kobasew, from Calgary on Feb. 10, 2007. Having stayed with the team for all of the subsequent five years plus the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Ference was more or less with Boston for the equivalent of six seasons.

    Over that span, he logged 104 points in 373 regular-season games plus a playoff log of 69 ventures, 21 points and a plus-three rating. Perhaps more tellingly, though, he sprinkled in multiple doses of intangible, immeasurable leadership and loyalty.

    With all of that in mind, before his most recent employer formally turns him loose on the free-agent market next week, here is a chronological look back at his top six on-ice moments as a Black and Gold blueliner.

April 17, 2008

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    Facing elimination on the road against the top-dog Montreal Canadiens, the Bruins pulled off a startling Game 5 victory, 5-1, en route to an eventual rubber match in the opening round of the 2008 playoffs. Ference led the team in a key category at each end of the rink with three assists and four blocked shots.

    A mere 16 seconds after the Habs drew first blood, Ference blocked Steve Begin’s bid on the next recorded play around the halfway mark of the first period. He did the same on Chris Higgins with 1:46 left, keeping the deficit 1-0 through intermission.

    At 7:45 of the second, Ference picked up the secondary helper on a Boston power-play conversion to draw a 1-1 knot.

    Later, within the final five minutes of regulation, the Bruins were safeguarding a 3-1 lead while on the penalty kill. The first minute-plus of the Montreal man advantage was altogether uneventful before, at the other end, Ference collaborated with Krejci to set up Marco Sturm’s shorthanded strike.

    The resultant 4-1 edge had barely two-and-a-half minutes to sink in before Ference finalized his playmaker hat trick and the 5-1 upshot with the lone helper on Vladimir Sobotka’s goal.

Nov. 1, 2008

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    Within the same minute of play, namely the fifth minute of the third period, Ference checked off two-thirds of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

    First, his secondary assist on Phil Kessel’s goal augmented Boston’s lead over the visiting Dallas Stars to 3-1. With that lead came a responsibility to follow up with assertion and aggression, setting the tone for the remaining 15 minutes of regulation.

    Two whistles later, Ference stepped up in that regard by throwing a highlight-reel, neutral-ice hit on hefty Stars forward Steve Ott and then, after the play drifted back onto Bruins property, engaged Sean Avery in a scrap.

    By night’s end, after a slew of additional spontaneous breaks from normal hockey action, the Bruins had paced themselves to a 5-1 victory. That proved to be the first of five straight victories to commence the month of November, a 10-game unbeaten streak (9-0-1) and a 24-2-1 hot streak that spanned two full months.

Dec. 30, 2009-Jan. 1, 2010

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    In the middle of a season marred by inconsistency and injuries, both for the team and the individual in question, Ference packaged some key single-game season highs in a span of two games sandwiching New Year’s Eve.

    He blocked five shots in a convincing 4-0 whitewash of the Atlanta Thrashers at the Garden and then threw five hits in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park, where the Bruins bested the Flyers in overtime, 2-1.

    Late in the latter game, Ference blocked a Mike Richards bid with exactly two minutes left in regulation, a mere 18 seconds after Mark Recchi’s equalizer forced the bite-size bonus round.

Dec. 23, 2010

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    Near the end of the embedded video, former New England Sports Network studio host Kathryn Tappen refers to the aforementioned Dallas game as she and analyst Mike Milbury recount this sequence.

    Somewhat similar to the Ference-Avery scrap, which implicitly stemmed from Avery’s response to a hit on his teammate, this came about when Ference called Atlanta’s Freddy Meyer into question for decking Milan Lucic.

    In both cases—and especially this one, considering what came later in the season—Boston sports fans could liken it to the Red Sox-Yankees dustup from 2004. Ference made on Meyer like former Sox captain Jason Varitek on Alex Rodriguez.

    As a consequence, the game itself was abruptly set aside to vent emotions and defend teammates, but the host team eventually emerged with a much-needed win, claiming a 4-1 decision.

June 6, 2011

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    The complexion of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final altered in a hurry when the Bruins, nursing a 2-0 series deficit, sculpted a 4-0 lead all within the second period of Game 3. That wave of offensive carbonation began with Ference tuning the mesh at the 11-second mark and continued when he claimed credit for the secondary assist on the second strike at 4:22.

    In addition to his rare two-point performance, Ference recorded a peerless six body checks in the eventual 8-1 drubbing, with half of those hits coming in the scoreless first period. This despite incurring 22 penalty minutes, mostly by virtue of a pair of 10-minute misconducts, and thus reducing his ice time to 16:42, less than any fellow Boston defenseman except Tomas Kaberle.

    A week later, Ference slugged home another key goal, the eventual clincher, in Game 6, the permanent turning point in the eventual Bruins victory. He would finish the series with a 2-1-3 scoring log, a plus-four rating, 14 hits and eight blocks.

April 22, 2012

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    In another crucial postseason game, Ference cultivated another rare goal-assist variety pack to help the Bruins stave off elimination for at least one more outing. His primary helper on the icebreaker and third-period strike constituted a portion of a pattern that saw Boston nab four separate one-goal leads throughout the afternoon.

    The eventual 4-3 overtime triumph drew a 3-3 knot with the Washington Capitals, who later won the resultant Game 7 in the first round of the 2012 tournament.