Fri Oct 07 01:30pm EDT
Three seasons ago Cody Ceci was in the stands at the world junior hockey championship — and now he has a chance play in it.
The Ottawa 67's defenceman, a two-way type with good size at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, was the youngest player to attend Hockey Canada's summer development camp. The Orleans, Ont., native, has used that as a springboard into the season with his hometown team, counting two goals and eight points in his first five games.
"It gave me a lot of confidence playing with and against the top 48 players in Canada," the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Ceci, who's projected as a potential NHL first-round pick, says of his summer camping trip. "That helped me see what I'm up against, try and match my skill level to theirs."
"I got to go to a couple games," Ceci says of the 2009 world junior that was held in the nation's capital. "It was pretty cool to have it my hometown. I never even really thought of me playing in it because at time it seemed so far off."
Ceci wasted little time establishing himself in the OHL as rookie in 2010 even though he was one of the league's youngest players. He's known for being technically sound and disciplined, with just 40 penalty minutes in 137 OHL games, which is remarkable for a defenceman. However, he is trying to round out his game by playing more physically, as well as jumping into the rush more frequently.
"Something I wanted to bring to the team was to help out a little more offensively," says Ceci, who had nine goals and 34 points while playing all 68 games last seaosn. "I was more offensive in minor midget so I am trying to bring that back now that I'm more comfortable in the league ... they haven't really said not to [jump into rushes], so I've just been playing a different style of game lately. I've been playing with [67's captain Marc] Zanetti and he's really strong d-man who allows me to do that.
"I'd like to get 15 goals and maybe 50 points, but I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself."
Ceci comes by his athletic ability honestly. His father, Parri Ceci, was a talented receiver in football who led the Guelph Gryphons to the Canadian university football title in 1984 and played for the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. His mother, Karen Sylvester, was a figure skater. Their son, meantime, wouldn't mind treating his parents to a playoff run after reaching the second round just once in his first three OHL seasons.
"We have a good team and if we do the little things we could go far," Cody Ceci says. "Playing hard right to the end of the game and staying out of the penalty box. We've been in the box quite a bit."
"That really made me realize how much I really love the game. When I first went down there, I wasn't allowed to play for a couple months [due to a protracted dispute over getting his release from another minor hockey association — Ed.]. Just taking hockey out of my life made me realize how much I enjoy doing it and how much I need it in my life. That helped me in that way. Once I got going I was able to play for the Peterborough [minor hockey] team and I was playing for the school team, so I was able to get lots of ice, lots of good coaching."
2. Whom in the NHL do you watch and say, "I need to play more like that" or "I see some of my game in his?"
"Some guys say I kind of play like [Los Angeles Kings star] Drew Doughty. I take that as a compliment, he's a really good defenceman. Also, I like to model my game after [Detroit Red Wings captain] Nik Lidstrom, his style."
3. In your mind, what would scouts say is the biggest area of your game have to work on between now and when you'll be on the cusp of turning pro?
"Maybe play a little more physical. I'm a pretty big guy [6-foot-3, 210] so I need to use that to my advantage and maybe lay the body a little bit more.
" ... Being more physical is one of those things you can't practise in practice. It's just something you got to go out there and do. Bring up the intensity and make a couple hits. Just think about, instead of going for the puck every time, laying a couple hits every once in a while."
4. Aside from your home arena (Ottawa Civic Centre), where is your favourite place to play in the OHL?
"I like Windsor's arena, good fans and they always have good atmosphere. I like playing in Peterborough, more so just going down there. I have a bunch of old friends down there and they always come to games, plus I usually get to see all my old coaches."
5. Favourite TV show or movie?
"Favourite movie is probably Hot Rod. I love that one. We always watch it at my cottage. Favourite TV show is probably How I Met Your Mother or Family Guy."
(Hot Rod has a surprisingly strong 6.5 rating on IMDb.)
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: CHL Images).