Living in picturesque Canmore‚ playing hockey and captaining your team while being one of the league's top scorers.
Sounds like a dream way to live for many teenagers in junior hockey.
That's the life for Matt Forchuk and Logan Ferguson.
Forchuk, 19 and turning 20 in December, and Ferguson, 19, are among the top players in the AJHL and leaders for the Eagles.
Head coach and general manager Andrew Milne said the two have played in every situation together, starting last year, and are inseparable.
“Last year they won co-MVP and co-scorers. They tied in points. They played on the same powerplay unit, same penalty kill and same line and that’s the case this year. Logan plays the point and Matt plays the low-seam [on the man advantage]. They shared everything last year, they might as well share everything this year,” Milne said.
The sharing that’s continuing this year? Captaincy.
After a locker room vote resulted in a tie, Ferguson and Forchuk are splitting the C during the season.
“I could’ve swayed the vote but I didn’t think that was necessary,” Milne said. “Both of those guys are big leaders in our club and they’re both such character kids. One is going to wear a ‘C’ on the road and one will wear it at home, then they will switch at Christmas.”
Forchuk said the two differ in their leadership.
“[Ferguson is] quieter and leads by example. I feel that I’m more of a vocal guy, kind of more outgoing to add another element opposite of him being quiet and leading by example,” Forchuk said.
Last year, the pair finished tied for fourth in the league in scoring with 72 points in 57 games. Forchuk had more goals with 27, while Ferguson had more helpers, with 50.
Both arrived to the Eagles for the 2014-15 year and had modest rookie outputs. Forchuk had 32 points in 49 games and Ferguson had 28 in 60.
It was the next year, when the two were paired in every situation, that their scoring took off.
Ferguson said the familiarity they have with one another was huge.
“We’ve become really good friends over the years and we know each other really well on the ice and off the ice. We respect each other’s games, so it always works out for us,” Ferguson said.
This season, Forchuk leads the league with 26 points in 13 games, while Ferguson has 19. Their linemate, 20-year-old Colby Livingstone, has 18 points, making them the highest scoring trio in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, ahead of Bonnyville’s Brown, Dupuis and Whistle by five points.
Milne said the players are very similar on the ice in their play, but Forchuk plays with more of a fire.
“To separate the two of them, I’d say Matt is more of a feisty competitor that leaves it on the ice. He’s a guy that will do whatever it takes to make himself successful in the game play. Matt tends to bend the rules a bit,” Milne said.
Ferguson also noted Forchuk is more likely to “mix it up”‚ while Forchuk agreed and spoke of his willingness to get physical, while Ferguson is the refined one of the two.
“I’d see myself as an aggressive, more chippy player, while Logan is more smooth and can skate the puck really well around the outside and looks for guys,” Forchuk said.
The rough play is evidenced by Forchuk’s 48 PIMs on the year, including 34 in his last game against Camrose. He also broke the 100 PIM park last year.
Before seeing it end prior the the clash with Camrose, Forchuk had a 12-game point streak to begin the year, while Ferguson has points in 11 of 13 games.
The elder (by one year) Forchuk has yet to choose where he will play post-secondary puck, but judging by his dominance last year and so far this season, he should have plenty of NCAA and CIS programs calling.
“I just want to find the right fit, somewhere I’ll get a good opportunity to play,” Forchuk said. “Get the offer I deserve. I wasn’t planning on rushing into anything, I was going to take my time as I don’t see that I need to rush into anything.”
Ferguson, a Calgary native, committed to Holy Cross University in Massachusetts for next season and will forgo his final year of Junior hockey eligibility.
“It’s a really good academic school and they have a really good hockey program,” Ferguson said. “The coaches approached me and they seem like really good guys. My family and I discussed it and decided it was the right fit for me and I’m really happy with it.”
ARRIVAL IN CANMORE
Back in 2011, Forchuk was chosen in the 11th round of the Western Hockey League (WHL) draft by Tri-City, but never saw action with the team. Ferguson was listed by the Edmonton Oil Kings, but elected to keep his college eligibility and go the Junior A route. Canmore would soon be their second home.
Ferguson’s older brother, Ryan, first played with the Eagles in 2012-13 before becoming the starter for the next two years. With a familiar face in the organization, Logan followed his brother and they spent a year playing together in Canmore.
Forchuk, an Okotoks native, was an affiliate player with the local Oilers before being successfully recruited by Milne and the Eagles.
THE YEAR AHEAD
The Canmore Eagles have been in the AJHL since 1995 (first as the Bow Valley Eagles until 2000) and have a history of tremendous players who have gone onto the collegiate and professional ranks.
As of October 20, Forchuk sits eighth all-time in scoring with 130 points, while Ferguson is 12th with 119. Realistically, if they can reach at least 72 points like they did last year, they can move into the second and third place rankings on the list, a tremendous achievement.
Although they won’t catch Mark Bomersback, who scored an astonishing 325 points across four seasons, they could go down as two of the greatest Eagles of all time. Currently, the second-ranked scorer, Andy Hyvarinen, finished with 175 points.
Of course, stats aren’t everything and Ferguson said their goal is to win and ultimately take the league title.
In the three years the duo has been playing in the Rockies, the Eagles have made the second round twice, but they can’t seem to get past that peak.
Currently, the team sits fifth in the Viterra South Division and have the third-best offence, but with a few additions, they should be contenders.
“The main goal is to help the team win every night and get as far as we can in playoffs and hopefully win it all… Our goal is to win games and that’s pretty much all we’re focused on,” Ferguson said.
For more from Neil Hilts check out Hockey Now at http://hockeynow.ca/junior/canmore-eagles-co-captains-forchuk-and-ferguson-tearing-once-again-near-tops-of-ajhl-scoring-chart