It wasn't too long ago that Boston Bruins prospect and Cornell University player Brian Ferlin had doubts about his future in the game of hockey, but after making the roster of the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League (USHL) he had a chance to grow.
Ferlin, a 20-year old winger drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins in 2010, is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., which is not a typical breeding ground for players drafted into the NHL.
In high school Ferlin played for the Jacksonville Ice Dogs, which was a Junior B team playing in the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League. In 2008-09 he had a breakout season with the Ice Dogs, scoring 45 goals and 44 assists in only 38 games.
Following his season with Jacksonville he went up to Indiana to try out for the Ice. He had no firm plans to continue to play the game he loved at a higher level, and maybe even had doubts.
"I wasn't planning on making the USHL team," Ferlin said. "I just went up there (to try out) because someone got me a spot."
Obviously, Ferlin made the Ice, and in his first year of draft eligibility in 2009-10 he had only 16 points in 57 games for Indiana. It was his second year of draft eligibility that put him on the NHL draft and college-recruiting scene. In 2010-11 Ferlin broke out, scoring 25 goals and 48 assists. He was the third-highest scoring player in the entire USHL with 73 points.
This past season Ferlin played for Cornell, which competes in the ECAC. Cornell is one of the six Ivy League schools in the conference.
"I had (offers from) other schools, and other places I could have went," Ferlin said. "Education is an important thing in my family, and obviously Cornell is a top hockey program as well."
Ferlin had a shortened season at Cornell because of a hand injury this past year, but still played well in the time he was on the ice. He had eight goals and 21 points in 26 games. In November he won the ECAC Rookie of the Month award. He had five goals and 11 points total, which included a game-winning goal.
"I won (Rookie of The Month) early in the season, so it was a good start to my year, Ferlin said. "I then had a few injuries that hampered me the rest of the season, but I think at the beginning of the year that was a big confidence booster."
Some players leave college hockey early to play in either the NHL or AHL, though that is something that does not appear on Ferlin's radar at this time.
"We'll see what happens, but I plan on being at Cornell for four years to keep building off each year and fully develop," said Ferlin.
Participating in his second development camp, Ferlin and the Bruins have noticed improvements to his game over the past year at the NCAA level.
"He had a really good year in the ECAC," Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney said. "Ferlin had some injury troubles that set him back, which kept him out of the playoffs. Overall his game is pretty good because he understands how to protect pucks, he is built for the cycle game, and has a good shot coming down the wing."
Ferlin models his game after Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf, because of their similar physical attributes. Ferlin is 6 feet 2 inches, and Getzlaf is 6 feet 4 inches. Both players also bring a lot of skill with their size.
"I really like the way Ryan Getzlaf plays because he is big and skilled," Ferlin said. "Getzlaf is a big power forward type player. I don't think I am Ryan Getzlaf, but that's the one person I try and model my game after."
The Bruins like his power-forward style of play and think he is also rounding out his game at both ends of the ice.
"He has that power forward cycle mentality that works really well in the NHL," Sweeney said. "Ferlin has continued to work on his skating and power part of his game because he is a bigger kid. Defensively he is still learning how the system works. Just being in the right spot is just as effective as trying to out work someone to get to that spot."