If you see a 18-year-old speeding around the Boundary Park area on rollerblades, chances are it’s Justin Sourdif trying to stay in hockey shape.
With no ice available over the past couple of months, the Surrey-raised Vancouver Giants forward feels the need to keep his legs moving.
“It’s not too busy out on the streets,” Sourdif said of his ‘blading sessions. “This is the longest I’ve been off the ice in a long time – no spring hockey, no playoffs,” he added. “If I didn’t have my rollerblades, I’d probably have to relearn how to skate.”
Sourdif would love to say he was on a roll during the 2019-20 WHL season with the Giants, but that wasn’t the case.
The team struggled out of the gate and rebounded to push for the playoffs, just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of everything.
In 57 games played, Sourdif scored 26 goals and added 28 assists, good for 56th in WHL scoring in a year he’s eligible for the NHL Entry Draft.
Did he achieve want he wanted this season?
“No, not really,” Sourdif replied. “I think there’s a lot more room for me to grow. This year I could have done way better, but it is what it is now. I ended up with the season I had, and obviously I can say that as the season was cut short, it’s a whole separate thing, but with my season, I think there’s more that I could have done. I just have to look forward to next year.”
Proud to be a two-way player, Sourdif won the team’s Sultan Thiara Plus-Minus Award, with a plus-30 rating.
“During his two-year tenure in the WHL he’s a career +57,” the Giants noted in a press release.
“I take pride in my plus-minus,” Sourdif said. “I played with really good players who are responsible, so that’s part of it, making good decisions in both ends. And our goaltending really helped out as well.”
In the end, NHL Central Scouting has Sourdif ranked 23rd among North American skaters entering this year’s entry draft. The big event was supposed to be held in Montreal in June, but those plans are parked in favour of an online draft of some kind.
“It doesn’t really matter to me, the number,” Sourdif said of his final draft ranking. “Obviously NHL Central Scouting is the main draft ranking, but it’s just a guide, right. The teams I’ve talked to, they can’t predict where I go, it’s just a ballpark, an assessment of where I’ll go, and right now it could be possible first round, I could go third round, mid-second, I have no idea.”
Last spring, Sourdif was in the stands at Rogers Arena when the draft was held in Vancouver. He sought a ringside seat to get a feel for what to expect the following year, when his name would be called.
“It was pretty cool to see,” he said. “I wanted to see the whole draft format and maybe get prepared for this season, to see how things would end up, to be more comfortable with it.
He added: “I’m disappointed, I guess, that it won’t be that whole draft experience this year, but I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, because I don’t know exactly how many guys do end up going, whether I’d be at home watching it, but I think we’ll all have to be at home watching it this year.”
The 2002-born Sourdif spent the bulk of the 2017/18 season with Valley West Hawks (now Giants) of the BC Major Midget League before joining the WHL Giants.
In the fall of 2018 he was among 66 players named to Canada’s three squads for the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, a tournament played in New Brunswick.
Last summer with Team Canada, Sourdif scored a silver medal in the Czech Republic at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup tournament, after the squad fell 3-2 to Team Russia in the gold-medal game.
The entry draft has been on Sourdif’s mind over the past four seasons, ever since he was picked third overall by the Giants in the 2017 WHL Bantam Draft.
“I remember after the Bantam draft I was like OK, this is kind of like step one, getting drafted into junior hockey and then trying to have a good first midget year,” he recalled. “And then after that I wanted to make sure I had a good junior career, over the next four years, to make an impact while I’m here, and then make the jump to pro, and whether it’s the NHL right away, maybe a couple years in the AHL, I just want to work on my craft, get better and work on habits. It’s that next step.”
In other Giants news, on Tuesday (May 5) the team announced the signing of North Delta’s Damian Palmieri to a WHL Standard Player Agreement. The 2004-born Palmieri was selected by the Giants in Round 4 (87th overall) in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft. The six-foot, 177-pound, left-shot defenceman joins the Giants after wrapping up his midget season with the Delta Hockey Academy’s 16U Program.
“He is a physical, two-way defenceman that does not shy down from battles,” said Giants GM Barclay Parneta. “His development has trended well over the past year and he has a similar foundation to the types of players that we have been having success with in recent seasons.”
Palmieri said he’s excited for training camp and the opportunity to compete for a roster spot on the Giants next season. “A year ago I was so happy to have been drafted by my hometown WHL team, and to sign with them today is an incredible feeling,” he said a news release.