Less than five months ago North Vancouver’s Jordy Bellerive was in hospital, his promising hockey future in question after suffering severe burns in a backyard bonfire explosion.
Next week his rapid recovery from that incident will take another remarkable turn as he steps onto the ice at Langley Events Centre as one of the assistant captains for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series. It’ll be the first chance for many West Coast hockey fans to see Bellerive, a member of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, play since the life-altering incident that left him with burns to 12 per cent of his body.
The 19-year-old and some friends were hanging out in a backyard on June 15 in the Calgary suburb of Cochrane when, according to an RCMP report, a “substance” was placed into the fire pit, causing “an explosion.” Three hockey players were injured, including Bellerive, who suffered burns to his face, hands, upper body and legs and spent the next 12 days in hospital in Calgary. Doctors told him it could be up to a year before he played hockey again, but as soon as Bellerive realized that his injuries were not life threatening, he set out to beat all of those timelines.
“I have definitely learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of,” he said in a press release promoting the upcoming series. “I just had an idea that I was going to prove them wrong and get out of the hospital as fast as possible and get back on the ice as fast as possible. I smashed all the deadlines they gave me.”
He has, in fact, smashed them all in fine style. Bellerive was in the lineup on opening night with the Hurricanes and has played all 15 games this season, recording 19 points in the process.
The six-game Canada-Russia Series features a travelling Russian junior squad playing two games apiece against all-star teams from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL.
Russia will play the WHL team to open the series Monday night in Kamloops before those two teams will move to Langley for Game 2 Tuesday night. Bellerive is hoping a strong performance will help him earn a spot on Team Canada for the World Junior Hockey Championships which will be co-hosted by Victoria and Vancouver this year.
“My goals were to make Team WHL and my goal is still to make the World Junior team. This is a step in the right direction, so I am definitely excited about that,” he said. “Every kid dreams of playing for World Juniors, especially on home soil, but for the Vancouver kids that are in the mix, that would be even more special to play in your hometown.”
Bellerive was not picked when eligible for the NHL draft but has since signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has recovered well from his burns but still suffers some pain, and can vividly recall the horrible sensations from when the burns were still fresh.
“Honestly, it is so far beyond anything you can explain – I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy,” he said. “It is day to day, you never know what it is going to feel like on any particular day. That has been one of the hardest things, waking up and not knowing how I am going to feel that day.”