Island produces hockey star

Arts & Entertainment Community Featured Online First Pictou Island Memories

I reflect back 40-plus years when fishermen around Pictou Island would live in their fishing shanties during lobster season.  Art Ferguson and my father had their shanties side by side on the bank above the Pictou Island wharf. Art’s son Graham and I were approximately the same age and as tradition goes, we would usually always be in the boat with our fathers after school closed each spring. As I remember those years, Art fished in his 40 foot plus open wooden lobster boat named “TEENAGE QUEEN”.

Unlike myself, Graham has also made his livelihood from the waters around Pictou Island.

Graham graduated from West Pictou District High School and went on to graduate from Mt. A. After trying a few different prospects in life, Graham returned home and fished full time with his father. He married his high school sweetheart Jean MacLean from Three Brooks on June 25, 1977. They together built their dream home on Hardwood Hill and have there raised a family of two beautiful daughters, Amy and Laura.

Amy being the oldest grew up with the love of playing hockey. She obtained her first pair of skates at age three. It became a priority for her to sit for hours in front of their television and watch Hockey Night in Canada with host Don Cherry. Her father played local hockey with the Pictou Maripacs and Amy followed his every move. Amy would try to attend every game that her father played and would assist in running the game time clock. Amy recalls wearing rubber boots to her dad’s games and wanting to be out on the ice playing hockey with him against the other guys. She, however, would constantly be told that hockey was to rough and not a game for a little girl. She then would proceed to spread ice and snow on a deck at the rink and pretend that she was playing hockey. She would take her little hockey stick and a rubber ball and practice taking slap shots at the side of a building in her yard.

Amy’s parents signed her up for ringette  when she was six years old hoping that this would take her mind off hockey. Amy insists that ringette was a fun game but it just didn’t meet her expectations. She recalls what happened when she scored her first ringette goal. I, being overly excited, jumped and raised my stick over my head and for that I received a penalty. She was devastated and cried and cried over getting that penalty.  She told her father who was coaching ringette that if she couldn’t celebrate when she scored a goal, then that wasn’t the game for her. Amy spent two years in ringette but continually pleaded and begged her parents to allow her to play hockey. Finally Graham and Jean agreed with the condition that she must keep her school mark average above 80.

She signed up to play novice hockey at age nine. She was the only girl on an all-boys team. Amy’s friend Kelly MacDonald was training for figure skating at that time. Amy persuaded her to quit and play hockey with her. Kelly now plays hockey for St F.X. University. Some time later April Gratto joined making it three girls playing on a boy’s hockey team.

Amy’s heart was set on being a goal tender. Her team however already had a goalkeeper so her first year was spent playing defence. Amy got the opportunity to play goalie in boys’ atom hockey at age 10. She quickly established her area around the net and made sure that members on the opposite team knew where those boundaries were. Amy proved to be superior at being a goal tender. This caused a lot of irritation for some boys on the opposite teams especially when they were unable to score few goals on her. Some players would become aggressive and slash her with their hockey stick when the referee wasn’t watching. Amy would react by jabbing them with her blocker and sending them falling to the ice. Amy was not going to be intimidated by anyone.

Amy recalls one game when she was 18 years old. Her team Pictou Maripacs was playing against another local team in the final playoffs. The guys on her team would continually guard her not just because she was a girl but also because she was their star goalie. The Maripacs were leading and as hard as they tried, the other team just couldn’t score a goal. Tension grew and one member of the other team became aggressive towards Amy. After all, here was this girl that they just couldn’t get the puck by. The play was heading towards the other end of the ice but that player stayed behind and verbally attacked her. Other team members who were watching cleared their bench and headed for her defence. However by the time that the play was called, the other male player was laying on the ice with Amy on top of him. “Way to go Amy”.

Amy graduated and finished high school hockey at age 18. She applied for and was excepted to Dartmouth New Hampshire Collage under a $32,000 per year scholarship. The summer of 2000 saw Amy fly to a small town called Cameridge near the Artic Circle. During that summer she worked with the RCMP. She returned home to Hardwood Hill during the next spring of 2001 and again this year to help her father fish lobsters. Graham speaks highly of her ability to do a man’s work and adds that she is the best crew that he ever had. From family tradition, Amy has found another love with the sea. She is a headstrong ambitious young lady who means what she says. She loves being on the water with a lobster boat while picking and baiting lobster traps. Her father will someday retire and we then may see a Captain Amy Ferguson in complete control of her father’s boat.

Amy played novice hockey at ages 8-9, atom at age 10-11, peewee at age 12-13, bantam at age 14, midget at ages 15-16 and 17. Beginning in peewee she played for Pictou County. She played High School hockey from grades 8-12. Amy began playing with Pictou Maripacs Junior C at age 17. She played Pewee Triple A at age 14. Played Bantan double A at 14 years of age. She skipped her last year of bantam and moved to play with the Midget AA team making her the youngest player in the league. She played two years there and then moved to the Jr. C league in Pictou once again as an underage. She played in nets against such teams as Amherst, Truro, and various teams in Cape Breton.

She received athlete of the year award 1997-1998, goalie of the year award and League MVP 1997-1998 in the Pictou County Boys Hockey League.

In her college career over the past three years, Amy has earned two IVY League Championships. She was named to the All-star Team and numerous honorable mentions in the East Coast Athletic Conference, (ECAC).

Amy, you have made Pictou County proud.