Ferlin's roots in the South did not detract from the attention he received from major programs from all levels. He first caught the eyes of recruiters from Cornell and the Boston Bruins franchise while playing for the Indiana Ice of the USHL. Indiana was his home for two seasons. His first season for the Indiana Ice did not see the numbers that many among the Lynah Faithful now anticipate from him.
The 2009-10 season saw Ferlin contribute only 16 points to the team from Indianapolis with what one can only think is a yeti for its logo. It was the 2010-11 season, when Cornell was deep in a rebuilding year, that Ferlin began to dazzle with his impressive offensive capabilities in the USHL. Ferlin improved his offensive production between the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons by a factor of nearly 500%. He totaled 73 points for the Ice over a mere 55 games for an average of 1.33 points per game. The future Cornell forward generated 0.45 goals per game over that span for a season total of 25 goals in one USHL season.
Ferlin has a confidence and poise with the puck that is manifested in his ability to stick handle or dangle between even the toughest defenses. The first ECAC game of the 2011-12 season pitted Cornell against the Bulldogs of Yale who were then ranked ninth in the nation. It was Ferlin's first ECAC game. Ferlin made his presence felt immediately. He registered two helpers and an empty net goal that evening. However, his first road trip through New England in carnelian and white was far from over. The next night at Meehan Auditorium, Ferlin registered a goal and an assist. He registered five points in his first ECAC weekend during which Cornell ended its drought against the Elis. The Lynah Faithful knew that it was just the beginning of the great things that Ferlin would do for the Big Red while on the Hill.
Ferlin was injured during the latter half of the 2011-12 season, so he was not on the ice during Cornell's victory over Union at Lynah Rink. However, Ferlin sliced through the Dutchmen's defenses effortlessly and scored Cornell's second goal of the game against Union.
The ease with which he placed the puck out-of-reach of Union's goaltender and outmaneuvered defensemen of the program with what was considered statistically to be the stingiest defense in the nation (with a team goals against average of 1.83) at the end of the season indicates how Ferlin is destined to be remembered at each level of play in which he participates. The defensemen who were on the ice were of the highest calibre that Union has to present this coming season. Ferlin outpaced and outplayed two of Union's marquee defensemen in the form of Coburn and the Dutchmen's much-praised and much-lauded Shayne Gostisbehere, also of the Sunshine State.
Even though Ferlin has the ability to generate his own offensive opportunities in an impressive and flashy manner, a trait that causes many players to become too self-centered and selfish on the ice, often at the expense of the success of their teams, he displays no such qualities. The Jacksonville native shows that unselfishness is one of his virtues and that seflishness is a vice for any team that has players who tend to showboat. Ferlin amassed 21 points last season. He relies upon his puck handling and vision to see offensive opportunities arise even and help his team even if the ultimate glory of "lighting the lamp" will not be his. His dedication to team work is shown in that 62% of those points were earned through assists.
Ferlin's freshman season was phenomenal. As stated, he totaled 21 points with 8 goals and 13 assists. Sadly, his freshman season cannot be discussed without a certain yearning for what could have been. Ferlin was injured in February 2012. His injuries forced him not to participated in nine of Cornell's games during the 2011-12 season. That span encompassed all of the post-season including the ECAC Quarterfinals, ECAC Championships, and NCAA Midwest Regional.
He played only 26 games for the Big Red his first season, but totaled still 21 points. This total of 21 points placed him fifth among all Cornell players in terms of points. His eight goal total tied him for the third-most number of goals on the roster. If one uses points per game as a barometer partially to mitigate against the effect of injury-induced absences from play, Ferlin ranks second among returning Cornell players. His total of 0.81 points per game trails the pace of only top-goal-scorer and senior Greg Miller.
Returning collegiate players undergo typically their most dramatic improvement in performance between their freshman and sophomore seasons. Had Ferlin remained healthy all of last season, there is little doubt that he would have accumulated raw numbers of goals and assists that were nearly equal to those that Miller earned. Furthermore, if his level of improvement between his first season at the Ice and his second is any indication of the degree of improvement that can be expected between years for Ferlin after getting accustomed to a system, it would be an underestimate to claim that his sophomore season will be a break-out season.
Ferlin's demonstration of physicality and skill can be seen in the above video from the 2012 Boston Bruins Development Camp. Ferlin can be seen demonstrating the former at 0:50-0:54 of the video and 1:16-1:31 where Ferlin can be seen undressing a defender and smoothly outplaying Gothberg to score a goal. Watching Ferlin so effortlessly outmaneuver a North Dakota goaltender is a thing of beauty.
This general trend continued at the Bruins camp this summer with other players. Ferlin joined the ranks of former Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug and current Boston College goaltender Parker Milner, who helped Boston College at times almost single-handedly claim its fifth national title, at Boston Bruins Development Camp. WAFT is glad that Ferlin had the chance to get acquainted with players who represent fellow elite programs in college hockey. If this season evolves as hoped, he will have more opportunities to demonstrate his skill set against them on the sport's biggest stage.
Ferlin was recognized at the ECAC Championships weekend in Atlantic City as the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year. Cornell players who have been honored similarly include Doug Ferguson and Joe Nieuwendyk. He defeated Quinnipiac's Peca and Harvard's McNally to earn such an honor. We doubt that Ferlin will leave Atlantic City empty-handed at the end of the 2012-13 season and he will help ensure that Cornell does not either.
One cannot overlook one facet of Ferlin's character that is oft-reported but celebrated sadly too rarely. The Boston Bruins franchise stays in close contact with its recruits and monitors their progress closely. It is through this monitoring that the Bruins interview and report on their prospects. One thing has been consistent throughout all of Ferlin's interviews: his desire to compete at Cornell for all four years and earn his Bachelor of Science.
Ferlin has the talent with little doubt to leave early, if he wishes, and compete among the pro ranks. The Boston Bruins franchise, to its credit, has appeared to encourage Ferlin's choice to complete his career, fulfill his commitment to Cornell, and earn his degree. His commitment to stay needs to be celebrated with more than just a passing statement. It shows true character and demonstrates what it truly means to be a Cornellian.
Ferlin will have a great career in front of him at Cornell. We hope that his first collegiate game back on October 26, 2012 is as explosive as his first weekend of ECAC play and a proper celebration for the return of such an integral Big Red forward. If Ferlin remains for four years, it is likely that the contention that his up-side is so great that he will be a contender for the Hobey Baker Award will prove true. Miller is one of the players who popularizes this opinion about his fellow forward most. It is not unthinkable to think that a trailblazing player like Ferlin, who was the first NHL prospect drafted from Jacksonville, will be Cornell's first Hobey Baker Award recipient in the future.