Chris Relke

Sourdif poised for big draft year after Hlinka experience

2020 NHL Draft prospect Justin Sourdif had an experience to remember this past summer.

He got the knock on the hotel room door that Team Canada hopefuls all want to hear when participating in selection camps.

He made the squad.

The Surrey, BC native impressed the Canadian coaching staff, which included Giants head coach Michael Dyck, enough at camp to make him the fifth player in Vancouver Giants history to represent Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament/Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

“It was good. It was pretty competitive right from the get-go in Calgary. There’s really good players invited there and obviously the team was really concentrated when we went over there (Breclav, Czech Republic) with the top players in North America, let alone the country,”- Sourdif had to say about his experience at the Hlinka camp.

Sourdif battling net-front at Hlinka camp in Calgary. (photo – Hockey Canada)

Sourdif had a bit of an edge on the rest of his Canadian teammates with Dyck being at the helm, saving him the adjustment of getting to know a new coach in a short time.

“It was awesome, obviously I like the style of play he wants the team to play and if I need to talk him I wouldn’t be afraid to ask questions whereas maybe other guys that haven’t known him like the Ontario or Quebec league guys might not be able to just walk up to him like I would be able to.” 

The comfortability paid off as the former third overall bantam pick put up five points (1G, 4A) in five games playing along two high end 2020 draft eligible prospects in Saginaw Spirit (OHL) forward Cole Perfetti and Hendrix Lapierre of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

Sourdif battles in front alongside Portland Winterhawks forward Seth Jarvis (photo – Hockey Canada)

Though the Giants forward didn’t put up quite the same point totals as his line mates, who had 12 and 11 points respectively en route to a silver medal, Coach Dyck was still impressed with his player’s overall performance.

“I thought he played well. He had a strong showing there. He played well away from the puck. He didn’t create as much offense as I think he would have liked, and I certainly think will be one of his strong points this year is creating offence not only five-on-five but on special teams too,” Dyck said about the Hlinka performance and what Sourdif can do to help the Giants this upcoming season.

The local product had himself one of the better rookie seasons in franchise history last season, putting up 46 points (23G, 23A) in 64 games and adding eight more points (2G, 6A) in 17 playoff games including key minutes during the WHL Final against Prince Albert, which the Raiders took in Game 7 thanks to an overtime goal from longtime Victoria Royal Dante Hannoun. 16-year-olds don’t normally see in the regular season — nevermind a league final.

Sourdif led all WHL 16-year-olds with 23 goals last season. (photo – Rik Fedyck)

Sourdif is currently a projected first round draft pick in next June’s draft, the second year in-a-row the Giants have housed such a prospect. The other, of course, being Bowen Byram who was just selected fourth overall and since signed by the Colorado Avalanche.

Byram has had eyes on him since his first season as a Giant but the attention intensified as the season went on and he kept getting better and dominating just about every game.

The Avalanche top prospect handled all the attention as well as anyone could, never seeming overwhelmed or bothered by the hype he brought.

And Justin himself credits Byram for being such a great role model, not just for a fellow top prospect but for all of his teammates.

“Bowen is such a great role model, he’s one of the funniest guys in the room but when it’s time to get serious, he’s the most focussed guy in the room and you can see it in his play. He’s competitive and loves to win, obviously I watch him during the season and kind of use that to help me in my draft year and help the team to hopefully reach the ultimate goal.”

Coming into his sophomore season in the WHL and as previously mentioned, his draft year, Sourdif has big expectations for himself and has been putting in the work to improve on what he feels his weaknesses are.

“I focussed on my offensive aggression, just driving the net and being able to make plays a little faster. Playing as a 16-year-old, I was a little bit tentative at times and this year I just need to be fearless. Another thing I needed to work on was my decision making, passing when I need to pass and shooting when I need to shoot, just basically working on my offense.”

He also added that he feels strongly about his defensive game, which was noticeable during last year’s Final whether it was staying with his check or getting in front of shots.

For this season his personal goals are pretty simple.

Along with minimizing his penalty minutes, which he only had 31 of last year, the skilled forward wants to double his offensive statistics.

“Double my stats.” he responded when asked what his goals were for this season.

“Also keep my penalty minutes to a minimum. I want to play hard but not hurt the team, so it’s double goals, double assists.”

The Giants would certainly take a 45+ goal and 90+ point season from the 17-year-old in what will be another big year for the team who are coming in as the reigning division and conference champions.

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