Ward was a few months shy of his 25th birthday when he finally made it as a full-time professional, joining Houston of the American Hockey League. He signed his first NHL contract with the Minnesota Wild one year later, in 2006, and has made up for lost time ever since.
Ward spent four seasons with Owen Sound of the Ontario Hockey League and, after an unsuccessful tryout with the Detroit Red Wings, opted to play college hockey at the University of Prince Edward Island. He spent four years there and graduated in 2005 with a degree in sociology. His dream remained to play in the NHL.