It was a summer of growth and learning for Cody DePourcq.
The Penticton Vees co-captain, through a connection with the team trainer, worked out with former NHLer Cam Barker, who is skating with the Vees to be ready for a new year.
“To see him work out … gave me a little more motivation throughout the summer,” said DePourcq, who was impressed with Barker’s gym. “He definitely had every little thing that you could imagine. It was pretty cool to use.”
DePourcq learned a lot from Barker, who played 310 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. He watched how hard Barker works out.
“How hard you have to work out to get to the next level,” he said. “I was able to skate with him and Duncan Keith and Andrew Ladd. It was a lot of fun.”
Among the things DePourcq picked up from the trio on the ice was how quick they do things such as pass and move their feet.
“The way they think the game. Everything was that much quicker,” he said. “It was quite impressive. I was a bit in awe to watch them. It took a bit of an adjustment to keep up.”
He managed to do that a bit, but added, “they are NHL players. I tried my best.” Now he wants to maintain that and pass it on to his teammates.
“I really think that all the work that went into the summer is going to be a big step for me,” said DePourcq.
DePourcq was asked what he wants to accomplish this season to help the Vees have success and it comes back to the team. He will do whatever is necessary, including blocking shots, winning face-offs and scoring goals to help them win.
“I just want to best player that I can be,” said DePourcq, who watches Carolina Hurricanes forward Nathan Gerbe a lot.
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson has been impressed with what he has seen from DePourcq.
“You could tell he has added strength over the summer,” said Harbinson, adding DePourcq is more experienced and has mental maturity on his side. “There is a lot of opportunity for him this year.”
Harbinson expects the Okanagan Hockey Academy alumnus to continue his strong two-way play and build on his 20-goal season.
“He’s a great penalty killer. Our team led the league in penalty kill last year and he was a big part of that,” said Harbinson. “He will get a lot of opportunities through his work ethic.”
When the Vees face the Merritt Centennials in their final exhibition game Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre, DePourcq will play alongside Patrick Newell and Demico Hannoun.