Vancouver Giants forward Justin Sourdif, of Surrey, scores against Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday (March 12) in a 5-1 win for the Giants. (Photo: Brian Liesse/Vancouver Giants)

Vancouver Giants forward Justin Sourdif, of Surrey, scores against Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday (March 12) in a 5-1 win for the Giants. (Photo: Brian Liesse/Vancouver Giants)

JUNIOR HOCKEY

In WHL Giants history, Surrey’s Sourdif soars among rookie scorers

The 16-year-old looks to play key role on team as playoffs approach

Among rookie players in Vancouver Giants history, Surrey’s Justin Sourdif is in some elite company when it comes to scoring goals.

This season, the 16-year-old forward has tallied 22 times, positioning him among just three first-year Giants to notch more than 20 goals in a season. The others are Evander Kane, who scored 24 times during his 2007-08 season, and Gilbert Brule, with 25 three years earlier.

Heading into the Giants’ final two regular-season games this weekend, which include a Friday-night homer at Langley Events Centre against Kelowna Rockets, Sourdif has 45 points in his 62 games played, good for fifth in team scoring.

“Things are just kind of rolling for me lately, I guess,” a somewhat sleepy Sourdif said Wednesday morning, on the phone, following a late-night bus trip home from Seattle, where the Giants beat the Thunderbirds 5-1 to earn sole possession of first place in the WHL’s Western Conference.

“I’m just getting some bounces, and maybe it’s just being at the right place at the right time.”

Prior to Tuesday’s win in Seattle, Sourdif had notched three goals and seven assists, for 10 points in seven games. His +28 rating was second best on the team, and his 21 goals led all 2002-born skaters in the WHL. He’s also in the top of rookie scorers.

No question, it’s been a great season for Sourdif on a team that has a solid chance of getting to the Memorial Cup this spring.

Of late, he’s been clicking on a line with Davis Koch (a fellow Surrey product who leads the team with 77 points) and Brayden Watts, and head coach Michael Dyck has given Sourdif plenty of power-play time, too.

“It’s been different guys, with some injuries and things, but I’ve had lots of opportunities there,” noted Sourdif, a Delta Hockey Academy grad who later lit it up with Valley West Hawks of B.C.’s Major Midget League.

In the 2017 Bantam Draft, the Giants selected Sourdif third overall – a solid pick, given the output and promise of his rookie season.

With the Giants, Sourdif made his debut in the fall of 2017. Last spring, he played in all of the team’s seven playoff games against Victoria, ending in an opening-round exit for the Vancouver squad.

One year later, Sourdif will look to play a key role if and when the Giants go deep into the WHL’s post-season.

“It’s awesome that we’re in first in the western conference,” Sourdif said, “which is great, and nobody really knew how well we’d do this season, at the start. The season has gone well for the team, for sure, so far, and for me, it’s been good, the whole experience. You know, there are more bus trips and longer ones, more games, too, but it’s all been an awesome experience for me.”

Sourdif, who grew up in the Boundary Park area of Surrey, will turn 17 on March 24, a few days after the Giants’ first playoff game.

“Everybody right now is interested to see who we’ll play, with us in first place right now and everything going down to the wire, and the playoffs starting next Friday (March 22),” Sourdif said. “We’re in a good spot but it’s not quite set yet. We’re focused on creating lots of good habits with the last two games here.

“Also, getting guys back will be great – guys like Owen Hardy and we’ll get Roman (Milos) back from school in Slovakia, not too long here, and Seth Bafaro, I assume he’ll be back, too, so we should be heading into playoffs relatively healthy and with some confidence. Guys are ready to go.”

Looking ahead, Sourdif will be eligible for NHL Entry Draft at the end of next season, in the spring of 2020.

Looking back, he recalls rubbing elbows with one of the others in the Giants’ rookie goal-scoring club.

“I’ve seen (Evander) Kane play, but (Gilbert) Brule was a bit before my time,” Sourdif said. “I think I was a bit too young to remember any of his time with the Giants, that era, but Evander Kane, I remember watching him, for sure. And I met him when I was around six or seven, at a camp, and he signed my stick. That was around 2008, maybe. That was pretty cool.”

• RELATED STORIES:

‘Surreal’ time for Sourdif as Surrey teen gets call to play for Canada for first time, from October 2018.

VIDEO: Byram sets another record with the Giants 4-3 OT win.

Surrey’s Koch is sizzling for the hot Giants of WHL.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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