A little bit more then a year ago, not many people knew much about Brett Festerling, a WHL defenseman who turned an invitation to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim training camp into an entry-level contract. Now, he’s a key cog in the defensive powerhouse known as the Vancouver Giants. In 68 regular season games, Festerling scored a goal and had seven points as well as 35 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he had one assist in 18 games as well as ten penalty minutes. Festerling is also crucial component of the Giants top penalty-killing unit that was the best in the WHL in both the regular season and the playoffs.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Festerling at the MasterCard Memorial Cup in Moncton, prior to the Giants game versus the host team, the Moncton Wildcats.
HF: Talk about what you bring to the team.
BF: We have some great defensemen on this team. (Paul) Albers has played awesome for us, leads defensemen in scoring in the WHL. (Cody) Franson has stepped his game up, he’s the offensive heart and soul. So I fill more of a defensive role here. I’ve taken on more of a solid game in game out consistency and penalty killing. (Mark) Fistric and I take pride in our penalty killing, we were top in the WHL in that. So this year, I’ve been more defensive, but I think consistent in every game, night in night out and try to jump in the rush when I can, but more take care of my own zone and make good passes.
HF: You went to the training camp in Anaheim and then you got a contract out of it. How did that all came to pass?
BF: I wasn’t picked in the draft, which was kind of disappointing. Everyone wants to get drafted. So I just worked hard in the summer and we were looking at a couple teams and then Scott Bonner, our GM got in touch with (Brian) Burke and got the tryout in Anaheim. It was kind of a last minute thing in the last week and I ended up going to Anaheim. I had a good camp and they told me they wanted to sign me to a contract. It was exciting for me and I was really excited for my mom right when we got out of the meeting. Fortunately we got things worked out.
HF: Has Anaheim been talking to you throughout the season and into the playoffs?
BF: Yeah, I’ve talked to a couple of their scouts and Burke came down and watched in Spokane so we’ve talked a bit, here and there. Just about keep playing well, keep skating and keep working hard.
HF: Have you been watching any of their playoff run?
BF: Yeah, I have. Everybody’s going for Edmonton because everyone’s from the West. But the California guys (defenseman Jonathan Blum and center Tim Kraus) are with me on Anaheim. But everyone’s going for Edmonton because they’re Canadian. Yeah, I’m going for [Anaheim].
HF: They’re saying that QMJHL referees might call it a little tighter then they call it out West. Do you think that will be a problem for your team?
BF: It shouldn’t be. We watched the game last night and we don’t get in trouble. We play the body, but the guys like to skate. For some of the teams that are slower, it might cause more problems but we play quick. I think we’ll be fine.
HF: Do you think the offense side of your team is a little underrated?
BF: I think it is underrated. A lot of the guys look at Brule and say he’s the scorer and if you shutdown him, you shutdown the offense. But we had something like 16 guys score in the playoffs and 10 different guys score with game winning goals so we are underrated. We roll four lines that can go and get good opportunities.
After the game, Hockey’s Future was able to catch up with a bandaged and bloodied Festerling again as he discussed the 3-2 loss to the Moncton Wildcats.
HF: First off, what happened to the nose?
BF: I caught a visor, I think or the back of a helmet in the first shift of the second period. I got on the ice and got clipped a bit. So a little cut, I’m good to go.
HF: What do you think the team has to improve on for the next game?
BF: Uncharacteristic penalties. We can’t afford to penalties after the whistle. We can’t afford to take lazy penalties. How we play usually isn’t so undisciplined. And two, our odd-man rushes. We gave up two and they scored on both. So yeah, better defensively and positionally. I was playing stupid as well.
HF: Moncton came out quite physical. Were you guys expecting that or did it take you by surprise?
BF: Yeah, we knew they were a physical team and we’re not afraid to play physical. So we expected them to play physical and we didn’t want to back down at all.
Brett Festerling and Vancouver Giants face off tonight against the Quebec Remparts as the 2006 MasterCard Memorial Cup continues in Moncton.
Glen Jackson contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.