Craig’s Garrett Ferguson signs to play junior hockey in Breckenridge | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig’s Garrett Ferguson signs to play junior hockey in Breckenridge

Noelle Leavitt Riley

2015 Moffat County graduate Garrett Ferguson, seated, smiles as parents Tanya, center, and Jeff, right, hold up his hockey gear along with Moffat County High School Athletics and Activities Director Mike Mitchell Monday morning at MCHS. Garrett recently committed to play for the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League's Breckenridge Bucks. A lifelong hockey player, he also attended a program in Switzerland this spring.

Garrett Ferguson's dedication and love for hockey has carried him a long way, but it's not the only thing that has given the 18-year-old success.

His maturity and educational prowess has opened doors for him — ones that could lead to an impressive hockey career.

The world is at Garrett's fingertips and his latest success surrounds his international travels.

In March, the soft-spoken sports fanatic boarded a plane for the first time in his life, bound for Switzerland, where he spent a week playing hockey with young men from across the globe.

"I got to see a different playing style, and I got to see a different country," Garrett said, with a huge smile on his face.

Despite the exhilarating hockey Garrett got to play, he also enjoyed the beauty and history prominent in Switzerland.

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"The Swiss Alps are very much like the San Juan (mountain range in Colorado). They're very rugged and steep," Garrett said.

It was an experience of a lifetime, leading him to his next big adventure as a junior hockey player for the Breckenridge Bucks in Summit County, part of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League.

Those who know him say it's no surprise the 2015 Moffat County High School graduate won the respect of the Bucks' assistant coach, who met Garrett for the first time at the Swiss hockey camp in March.

Garrett and his family had no idea that his trip to Europe would change the course of his college career.

Initially, Garrett was slated to attend college at the School of Mines in South Dakota. He and his parents toured the campus in the spring, and he was ready to map out his classes and make the move — that's until another opportunity knocked.

After he returned from Switzerland, Garrett spent a week playing hockey at a Breckenridge camp where he was offered a position with the Bucks. He went home and talked to his folks, Tanya and Jeff Ferguson, both of whom were excited but reluctant about the change in plans.

In order for Garrett to play for the Bucks, he'd have to say goodbye to the South Dakota opportunity and attend school at Colorado Mountain College in Summit County.

"It was an amazing campus. I was really looking forward to it," Garrett said.

But he just couldn't give up the possibility of playing junior hockey.

"He's been skating since he was 4, so he loves it," Tanya said. "We thought that Switzerland was going to be the cherry on top, but this was icing on the cake."

Garrett's dad felt a little uneasy about his son opting out of his original college plans, but he couldn't ignore what playing for the Bucks could mean for Garrett's future.

"It's just another step in his dream," Jeff said. "Maybe this will open up doors for him to go pro."

Bob Haddock, a family friend who works with Garrett's dad at the Colorado Department of Transportation, thinks the world of Garrett.

"You won't find a better young man than Garrett," he said. "He has earned it."

Though MCHS does not offer a hockey team, the young athlete was one of the Craig Cougars’ top scorers in the past season, the Midget team’s first within the Colorado Prep Hockey League. He also played soccer and ran track and field, part of a league champion, state-qualifying relay team in the latter.

Mike Mitchell, MCHS’s athletics and activities director, can't say enough good things about the junior hockey player.

"He's a man among boys," Mitchell said, noting that he's not only a great sportsman, he was also one of MCHS's top academic students.

"His options are so unlimited," Mitchell added.

Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@CraigDailyPress.com.

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