Black Press Sports
Cody DePourcq is the only player left from the 2012 Penticton Vees’ Royal Bank Cup championship team.
Expected to be without the 20-year-old co-captain for the national Junior A hockey tournament which began Saturday in Portage, the Vees got good news Friday when the gritty forward was cleared to play.
“It’s probably a big emotional boost for everybody,” said Penticton head coach Fred Harbinson, of DePourcq, who had his jaw broken in two places during Game 2 of the BCHL final on April 11. “He looks good. Playing with a lot of energy as usual.”
DePourcq was back on the ice for practice with teammates wearing a yellow non-contact jersey Thursday, as was F Cam Amantea, who has been cleared to play from an upper body injury.
The Vees opened the five-team tourney Saturday against the Portage Terriers, who they iced 4-3 in overtime in the Western Canada Cup final in Fort McMurray.
The Carleton Place Canadians, who blew a late two-goal lead and lost the 2014 RBC Cup to the Yorkton Terriers at Kal Tire Place in Vernon, the Soo Thunderbirds and the Melfort Mustangs of Saskatchewan are also in the tourney.
“It was awesome, took me a little time to get my timing back and to play at the pace that our team plays at, but once I got into things I felt more comfortable,” said DePourcq of practice. “I really wanted to take a couple hits and bumps just to get that confidence again in competitive situations. I felt really good and I’m excited to be able to get back with the team.”
While DePourcq is looking to win his second national championship, he said it’s going to be a new experience for a lot of guys and an exciting one.
“Hopefully (Demico) Hannoun and I can take what we’ve learned from our experiences and make the guys around us feel more comfortable and help channel their emotions in the right direction,” he said.
Hannoun, a former Viper, is playing in his third straight RBC Cup tournament.
“Cody is such a good team guy. He has always been there for us throughout the whole year,” said rookie Tyson Jost, also his neighbor. “It’s definitely good to have a veteran presence like that. Having him back in the lineup is such a motivator. It’s cool seeing him back on the ice. It puts a smile on your face. He looks a little funny with that bubble.”