Cameron Kenneth Ward (born February 29, 1984) is a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender currently playing for the Carolina Hurricanes of the National Hockey League (NHL). Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he was raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta. During his three-year junior career in the Western Hockey League (WHL), he was selected 25th overall by the Hurricanes in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. After a season with the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lowell Lock Monsters, he won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006. He became the first starting goaltender to win the NHL championship as a rookie since Patrick Roy in 1986.
Ward spent his junior career with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League. After appearing in one game for the Rebels in 2000–01, Ward played three full seasons with the team from 2001–2004, leading them to the WHL finals twice. Ward was drafted 25th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Upon graduating from the WHL, Ward signed a multi-year, entry-level contract with the Hurricanes on May 13, 2004. Due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, he was assigned to Carolina’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Lowell Lock Monsters, for the season.
Joining the Hurricanes for the 2005–06 NHL season, Ward largely served in a backup role to Swiss goalie Martin Gerber during the regular season. He made his NHL debut on October 5, 2005, replacing Gerber after the starter injured his hamstring. He saved 10 of 11 shots in the third period, as the Hurricanes lost 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He made his first NHL start the following game two days later in the club’s home opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ward turned aside Mario Lemieux, Žigmund Pálffy, and Sidney Crosby, in a shootout, as the Hurricanes won 3–2. Ward completed his NHL rookie season with 14 wins and 8 losses, along with a 3.68 goals against average (goals against average).
In the opening round of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Hurricanes faced a two-win deficit against the Montreal Canadiens. With Gerber struggling in the series, Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette turned to Ward. The goaltending switch prompted Carolina to a series comeback, advancing to the second round against the New Jersey Devils, where he played opposite his personal hero, Martin Brodeur. After eliminating the Devils, the Hurricanes defeated the Buffalo Sabres in seven games. Facing the Edmonton Oilers in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals, he helped the Hurricanes to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. In doing so, he became the first rookie goaltender to lead his team to the Stanley Cup as a starter since Patrick Roy in 1986. Against Edmonton, he also became the first rookie goaltender to both play and record a shutout in the Finals since Roy. He tied the rookie record for wins in the playoffs (15), previously held by Roy and Ron Hextall, and became the first rookie goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy since Hextall in 1987.
After his heroics in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ward became the Hurricanes starting goaltender for the 2006–07 season. He recorded season stats of 30-21-6 and 37-25-5 in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 campaigns, respectively. The Hurricanes would miss the playoffs both years. However, the Hurricanes would reach the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2008-09 NHL Season before bowing out to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Ward went 8-10 with a 2.67 GAA during the playoffs.
Ward and the Hurricanes struggled to begin the 2009-10 NHL Season, as Ward went 2-9-3 to start the campaign. On November 8, 2009, in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ward was injured when he was cut on the leg by the skate of opposing forward Rick Nash. As Ward was helped into the dressing room, he left a trail of blood on the ice. After returning, he finished the season with an 18-23-5 record, a 2.69 GAA and .916 save percentage as the Hurricanes failed to qualify for the postseason.
Ward was the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL All-Star Game Fantasy Draft, selected by All-Star Game captain, Eric Staal.
Ward at the 2008 World Championships
|Competitor for Canada|
|Gold||2007 World Championships|
|Silver||2008 World Championships|
Ward’s performance in his NHL rookie season earned him consideration on a shortlist of 81 candidates to play for Team Canada in the 2006 Winter Olympics. He was one of nine goalies selected, however he was not named to the Canadian squad.
He was a member of the 2007 Canadian IIHF World Championship team that won gold in a 4-2 win against Finland in Moscow and a member of the 2008 Canadian IIHF World Championship team that won silver in a 4-5 game against Russia in Canada.
Born in St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Ward is the second child of Ken and Laurel Ward. He is the middle child of his family, between Chelsea, his younger sister, and Kendra, his older sister. He grew up in Saskatoon and Sherwood Park, spending his adolescent years in the latter. When the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, an article in the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix acknowledged Ward’s early years in Saskatoon growing up in Lakeridge, a neighborhood in the city’s southeast corner where he lived until moving to Sherwood Park when he was 10 years old. He attended Jr High at FR Haythorne and high school at Salisbury Composite High School in Sherwood Park, until he graduated.
Ward owns a Rec Hockey team in Red Deer Alberta, The Red Deer Jets, don Winnipeg Jet jerseys, with name bars of former Jet players. They regularly donate money to the Special Olympics. There is also a Red Deer Jets patch on the back of Ward’s helmet.
Ward is extremely active in charity work and community service. He often donates his private box in the RBC center to families with children that have special needs and makes very personable visits to hospitals in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill area.
Ward and his wife Cody have one son, Nolan, was born on November 24, 2010.