After 16 years in the NHL, defenseman Andrew Ference has hung up his skates and sheathed his hockey stick. Wearing the threads of four different NHL teams over the course of his career, he decided to retire at the age of 38. The Edmonton native finished his career with his hometown Oilers.
Ference was a member of the Boston Bruins for seven seasons from 2007 until 2013. During that time, he scored 16 goals and 94 points in 373 contests. He weighs in at 5 foot 11 and 182 pounds. To quote Mark Twain, he proved that “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”
12 Fighting Majors
Though it wasn’t his only role for Boston, Ference was not afraid to drop the gloves in order to defend his teammates. The left-shooting defenseman had 12 fighting majors in a Bruins sweater between the regular season and playoffs. There’s a reason his twitter handle is “Ferknuckle”.
No. 21 was not afraid to have a voice either. He often could be heard yapping, whether it was on the ice or in the Bruins locker room. It was enough to earn an ‘A’ on his jersey – at least for half the season.
After winning the Cup in 2011, Mark Recchi retired, and thus the Bruins needed a new alternate captain. Boston decided to split the duty between Ference and Chris Kelly. The blueliner bore the ‘A’ during home games while the forward took the honor during away games. Halfway through the season, they switched.
Speaking of Recchi, one of Ference’s most notable fights came after David Backes laid the veteran winger out. The gritty defenseman jumped right in and started throwing hammers.
On December 23rd, 2010, the Atlanta Thrashers’ Freddy Meyer made contact with Lucic up high in open ice. Though seemingly every player in a Bruins jersey responded to the hit, guess who got there first? Ference kept swinging even with another Thrasher on his back.
In a game at the TD Garden on February 3rd, 2011, the Dallas Stars’ Adam Burish took a slap shot well after the play was whistled dead. Ference immediately responded by dropping the gloves, and he got the better of Burish who could be seen clutching onto what was left of his nose afterwards.
In Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins were up 1-0 in the third period.
No. 21 took a slapshot from the point. Kelly tied up a defenseman in front of the net to screen Dwayne Roloson. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s goaltender got his body in front of the puck, but it somehow squeaked through his body and trickled into the net.
The Bruins went on to win the game 2-0.
In Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins had a two-goal lead over the Vancouver Canucks.
On the power play, Michael Ryder held the puck along the boards by the top of the left faceoff circle. He gently glided the puck towards Ference at the point who stopped the puck before winding up and slapping the puck past a rattled Roberto Luongo. Just 11:25 into the game, Ference had chased Luongo out of his crease.
In total, he netted four goals and ten points during Boston’s 2011 Stanley Cup run.
With just over eight minutes left in the third period of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins had a 3-on-3 rush against the Washington Capitals.
The game was tied 2-2 when Tyler Seguin rifled a wrist shot off of Braden Holtby’s mask. The remaining two Capitals and two Bruins players canceled each other out in front of the net, leaving the trailing Ference free to put home the rebound.
The Capitals eventually tied the game up 3-3, setting the stage for Tyler Seguin to force a Game 7 in overtime.
During the last minute of an 8-6 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on February 9th, 2011, the Bruins veteran decided to rub the Habs’ faces in it. Behind the Bruins’ goal, No. 21 tripped up Tomas Plekanec, catching the attention of Travis Moen.
The defenseman refused to shy away from the fight despite that Moen was taller and heavier than him. The two dropped the gloves and a brawl ensued.
On January 12th, 2012, P.K. Subban finished a check on David Krejci. Apparently, Ference didn’t like the play as he immediately pounced on Subban. Though he had two inches and nearly 30 pounds on Ference, Subban turtled. The Canadiens defenseman gave his Bruins counterpart a piece of his mind once the linesmen and two panes of glass were between them. Ference had some words of his own for the now-Nashville Predator.
Halfway through Game 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, No. 21 sent a slap shot past Carey Price. During his celebration, he made a not-so-friendly gesture to the Montreal faithful.
The obscenity was criticized by many hockey fans across the globe – none of whom lived in New England. For Boston fans, the beloved defenseman summarized the entire Bruins-Canadiens rivalry in a single finger. For that and so much more, Ference will be remembered for giving the B on his chest a sense of strength and resilience.