Photo courtesy of Allen Douglas, Vancouver Giants
Vancouver Giants right winger Justin Sourdif has had a breakout season this year, but he doesn’t want to take all the credit for it. Sourdif has collected 21 points in 12 games with five goals and 16 assists. He currently sits tied for first on the team in points with teammate Tristen Nielsen who has 11 goals and 10 assists. The 19-year-old Surrey, BC native and Florida Panthers prospect attributes some of his success to his teammates. Sourdif was picked in the 3rd round, 87th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
“My linemates, I’ve been playing with Adam Hall and Tristen Nielsen and it’s been awesome, they’ve been really good finding me when I’m open and obviously when I pass them the puck they’re putting it in the back of the net,” Sourdif said.
In the 2018-19 season, Sourdif collected 46 points in 64 games with 23 goals and 23 assists before the team went on their run to the championship series against the Prince Albert Raiders. Over a stretch of 17 playoff games, he collected eight points with two goals and six assists. In the 2019-20 season, he racked up 54 points in 57 games with 26 goals and 28 assists.
While Sourdif thought his first two seasons were decent, he thinks they could’ve been better. However, he said that this year he thinks he’s come a long way and has a more consistent game. Sourdif touched on how it’s the little things that help him out a lot whether mentally, at the end of practice or visualizing things before games.
Playing style and draft moment
When it comes to players he models his game after, Sourdif mentioned TJ Oshie who currently plays for the NHL Washington Capitals. He also mentioned that people have said he plays like Nazem Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche and that he would have to agree. He said both Oshie and Kadri are very good players.
“I think I kind of have an unorthodox playing style, it’s weird, I guess as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to find guys that I play like, but I would say TJ Oshie is the guy that’s most similar.”
When Sourdif was drafted by the Panthers, it was different being a virtual draft due to the pandemic, but it was still a special moment for him.
“Yeah, I was at home with some family and it was a pretty cool night being selected by them,” Sourdif said. He touched on how you have zoom calls and stuff with other teams, and you try and get a feel of what they think of you. Sourdif said you don’t know what the outcome will be, how he was sitting there waiting and then hearing his name called was the best feeling in the world.
While teams are playing with their division this season in front of empty buildings, Sourdif talked about the level of competitiveness.
“It’s pretty competitive, obviously you see the same teams quite a bit when you’re playing against the same guys over and over again so you’re going to develop that hate I guess or that competition,” Sourdif said. “We want to be in first place at the end of the year, there’s 24 games, I think it got cut down to 22, and we want to win a banner so that’s our main goal right now and I think we’re doing a pretty good of that.”
Sourdif said the team is taking it one game at a time right now. The Giants currently sit tied for first in the BC Division with the Kamloops Blazers at 18 points each. In 12 games, Vancouver has a 9-3 record and riding a four game winning streak.
Extended off-season and beyond
For many players, they didn’t know if they’d get a season this year so it was a relief for them when they learned they would. Sourdif touched on what kept him going throughout the extended off-season including the love of the game. He also said he stayed in shape however he could to be ready if there was a season. From the time their season ended last year until the bubble started this season, he said he trained pretty consistently waiting for his opportunity.
“I didn’t want to be set back full year behind so I knew other guys were playing around the world so I was just trying to keep up,” Sourdif said.
Sourdif explained this season they want to finish first in the division and show what kind of team they are. He touched on how if they get back to a regular 68 game season next year it’ll be a weird feeling playing other teams at home and on the road and outside the division again. Sourdif noted that the team would look similar next season to what they have now and hopes they’re able to keep as many guys as possible.
Veteran role and younger players
Sourdif explained that they had quite a few younger players join the team in the bubble this season. During this season and next year during his 20-year-old season, he touched on how he’ll take the younger players under his wing and lead by example.
“Just kind of take things that I learned when I was younger and that the older guys would teach me, the knowledge they’ve given me and I try to pass that on to the rookies now,” Sourdif said. “I know it’s tough for some guys coming into the league, other guys it’s pretty smooth sailing but that’s not the case for most rookies.”
He explained how it’s not fun being a rookie in some cases with the duties they have, getting last picks for things and that he’s just trying to make them feel comfortable. With anything they need he said you try to give them advice, tips and just treat them with respect. He said when he came into the league, he was treated with a lot of respect from the older guys. Sourdif said they showed him how to act and carry himself on and off the ice and how he tries to pass that on to the younger guys.
Next season and looking forward
Sourdif touched on what he looks to do with his game going forward in his last WHL season next year and then his transition to the professional ranks. He explained he’s just going to work on his game and his consistency away from the rink. This year, he said he’s just using this opportunity to do as well as he can and prepare himself to play at the pro level.
“So if I have another year to act as a professional, play like a professional away from the rink and at the rink, I think that’ll just help me for what’s to come next,” Sourdif said.
Sourdif hasn’t been to an NHL camp since being selected by the Panthers, but said it’ll be pretty interesting to learn how things work at the next level. He hopes to be able to do that sometime in the off-season. He touched on how if he comes back in the fall to the Giants and players have questions, he’d be able to pass some information on to them. As well as attend camp with the Florida Panthers, Sourdif enjoys a few different hobbies during the off-season. This includes hanging out with friends that live nearby, spending time outdoors and enjoying time with family.
“I enjoy doing lots of things, I like biking, I like going on hikes, that’s just some things I like to do outdoors, play spikeball,” Sourdif said. “I like playing different sports so golfing, basketball, indoor stuff I obviously like playing video games, I watch movies with my sister and my parents sometimes so that’s always nice on a weekend.”
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