The Western Hockey League season has just begun and Vancouver Giants captain Justin Sourdif is already plump-lipped.
“I was jamming for a rebound and then I stopped, and two guys checked me out and one ended up shoving me in the mouth,” Sourdif said. “So I broke my gums and broke my lip a little bit.
“I definitely feel like hockey is back.”
Giants general manager Barclay Parneta isn’t surprised Sourdif is always in the thick of the action.
“Justin is an extremely strong guy who really competes, and the album just follows him,” said Parneta.
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The 19-year-old center is back with the Giants for what will likely be his final youth hockey season. The Surrey, BC native impressed the Panthers in his first NHL training camp after Florida picked him 87th in the 2020 draft.
Last month, the Panthers announced that they signed Sourdif to a three-year entry-level contract, a deal that Giants head coach Michael Dyck believes may prove to be of good value.
“I think they saw that they have a player that they could get in the third round and that probably has more first-round flair for him,” Dyck said.
“I think he has a future there and I think they want him to come back here and be a good back and forth player for us and a good leader.”
Sourdif’s time at Panthers training camp turned out to be a revelation.
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“It was a crazy, surreal experience,” he said.
“I was sitting next to Patric Hornqvist and (Jonathan) Huberdeau in the locker room and then to my right was (Aleksi) Heponiemi. So it was a lot of guys to learn from and a lot of advice to bring here. “
Sourdif says he also learned from Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who led the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups.
“It was amazing to be able to talk to him,” he said of coach Q.
Last season, Sourdif led the Giants in points and assists, accumulating 34 points in 22 games.
Now in his fourth season in the WHL, Sourdif is expected to be the team leader. He is also likely to play a role for Canada at the youth hockey world championships in December.
It’s a great year for the Surrey teenager, who has pursued his NHL dream since he was young.
“It’s good to know that you are always improving and you have not reached your ceiling, and I feel like I still have a lot of room to grow and great potential that I have not yet reached,” he said. said.
The Giants will play their first home game on Friday at the Langley Events Center when they face the Prince George Cougars.
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