Andrew Ference didn’t literally circle the date on his calendar, but the Edmonton Oilers defenceman has been looking forward to this game for a while.

Ference is expected to be in the thick of things when the Oilers host the Boston Bruins Thursday at Rexall Place. Ference won a Stanley Cup and went to another final with the Bruins before signing as a free agent with the Oilers this summer.

“It’ll be good, it’s a good test for us as a team,” Ference said. “Individually, it’s exciting. It’s obviously a little weird playing against guys that you’ve played with so long, but in the same token, I think that I’ve been around long enough that you go to battle and learn how to fight, probably even harder against your buddies than you would against guys you don’t know, just to one up each other.

“It’ll be a good night (Thursday), there’ll be a lot of good battles and it’ll be a lot of fun.”

Ference, 34, spent the better part of seven seasons with the Bruins.

The local product was originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the eighth-round — 208th overall — of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

He spent four seasons with the Penguins before moving on to play with the Calgary Flames. During the 2006-2007 season, Ference was traded to the Bruins where he achieved his greatest success.

“It’s good to see a lot of old friend and just catch up with a bunch of guys face-to-face,” Ference said. “It’s fun going up against guys you know so well. You start to do it more the more years you play in the league. Guys get traded and you see old teammates a lot.

“When you get them all in a batch, it’s fun to go up against them.”

This summer, Ference returned to Alberta, signing a four-year, $13-million contract with the Oilers. The Oilers were looking to add grit and leadership to the lineup, and so far, Ference has provided it, named captain at the beginning of the season.