Wed. May 18th, 2022

The Western Hockey League season has just begun, and Vancouver Giants captain Justin Sourdif already has a fat lip.

“I jammed for a rebound and then stopped and I was cross-checked by two guys and one ended up getting me in the mouth,” Sourdif said. “So I split my gums up and slapped my lip up a bit.

“I definitely feel like hockey is back.”

Giants general manager Barclay Parneta is not surprised that Sourdif is always in the middle of the action.

“Justin is an extremely strong kid who really competes and the puck just follows him,” Parneta said.

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The 19-year-old center is back with the Giants for what will likely be his final season of junior hockey. Surrey, BC, native impressed the Panthers at his first NHL training camp after Florida drafted him 87th in the 2020 draft.

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Last month, the Panthers announced that they were signing Sourdif to a three-year entry-level contract, a deal that Giants head coach Michael Dyck believes could prove to be a good value.

“I think they saw that they had a player that they were able to get in the third round who probably got more of a 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 two-way player for us and a good leader.”

Sourdif’s time at the Panthers’ training camp proved to be an eye opener.

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“It was a crazy experience – surreal,” 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 there were a lot of guys to learn from and a lot of advice to bring back here. ”

Sourdif says he also learned from Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Chicago Blackhawks to three Stanley Cups.

“It was great just to be able to talk to him,” he said of coach Q.

Last season, the Sourdif Giants led in points and assists, picking up 34 points in 22 games.

Now in his fourth WHL season, Sourdif is expected to be team leader. He is also likely to play a role for Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships in December.

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It’s a big year for the Surrey teenager, who has been chasing his NHL dream since he was young.

“It’s nice to know that you’re always getting better and that you have not hit your ceiling, and I feel like I still have plenty of room to grow and a great potential that I have not quite reached yet, “he said.

The Giants play their home-based opener on Friday at the Langley Events Center as they host Prince George Cougars.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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