IROQUOIS FALLS - Josh DeJulio had a cup of coffee with the Abitibi Eskimos at the end of the 2013-14 season.
Now, the Kapuskasing Flyers graduate is hoping for a full season of NOJHL action, either with the Eskimos or their new neighbours, the Cochrane Crunch.
“It will be a big advantage heading into training camp,” DeJulio said.
“The (Eskimos) coaches already know me a bit and I got to know some of the guys who will be at camp. I have known a lot of the guys for a while now.
“It gives me a bit of a confidence boost.”
DeJulio, a defenceman, is coming off a very successful final season with the Great North Midget League Flyers.
He scored eight goals and added 27 assists, good for 35 points in 30 regular season games and served 40 minutes in penalties.
DeJulio added a pair of assists in three playoff games with Kapuskasing.
He realizes that making the jump to the NOJHL from the GNML will not be easy.
“I think the biggest adjustment is going to be that I will have to make quicker plays,” DeJulio said.
“The game is a step quicker, so I am going to have to know what I want to do before I get the puck.”
As DeJulio’s statistics would suggest, he is a puck-moving defenceman, so the transition shouldn’t be too difficult.
To get ready for training camp, DeJulio has been working hard this summer as part of Herve Leroux’s pro super workout program for elite Iroquois Falls area athletes.
“Hopefully, it will give me that much more of an advantage over the other players,” he said.
“Not every player gets training like this. It gets you into top shape and it is what you need.”
DeJulio has participated in Leroux’s program since he introduced it almost a decade ago.
Like most of the other elite participants, DeJulio tries to focus on one particular area in need of improvement each summer.
“Definitely my foot speed, it is definitely what I need, especially with the game getting faster this year,” he said.
“Foot speed is going to be crucial.
“Things like the quick feet drills in this program really help out with your technique and there are wind sprints and ladders on Tuesdays.”
Each component of Leroux’s program is designed to work on a different part of the participants needs, but clearly one of the least favourite and perhaps most effective and the hill sprints on Tuesdays.
“The Tuesday workouts are hard, running up the hills and throwing the medicine balls is tough,” DeJulio said.
“We have been lucky for the past couple of weeks because there has been a little bit of mist, because when the temperature is hot you have to bring lots of water. You don’t want to pass out.”
DeJulio wouldn’t have stuck with Leroux’s program for nearly a decade if he wasn’t pleased with the results.
“He has been researching it and doing this enough years that he knows what we need and the right amount of time that we need to do it for,”DeJulio said.
If DeJulio succeeds in cracking the Abitibi Eskimos roster this fall he will be the latest in a large number of Kapuskasing Flyers to suit up with the NOJHL club.
It is a list that last season included goalie Sylvain Miron, defencemen Jamey Lauzon, Brennan Roy and Sheehan Moore, as well as forwards Marc Dube and Brenden Locke.
“Kap is a really good organization and lot of their players go up to junior and lot of their players come here,” DeJulio said.
“Some of the guys from Iroquois Falls, I have been playing with since I was a kid.”
The Flyers had a surprisingly strong season in 2013-14, despite the fact that so many of their core players made the jump to the Eskimos.
“We got lucky, because we had a lot of good young talent that came up,” DeJulio said.
“We were able to gel together as a team and things went well.”
The Flyers finished third in the regular season standings, with a record of 16-14-0-0.
“We had a chance of winning it all, I thought, probably the best chance in my three years with the team, but then we got upset in the first round,” DeJulio said.
“We ran into a hot goalie.”
DeJulio learned a lot from the coaches in Kapuskasing and he is hoping it will help him make the jump to the NOJHL.
“They really helped me to mature as a person and as a hockey player,” he said.
“(Flyers coach) Glen (Denney) was a great coach. Most practices we had time at the end of the practices to work on individual skills and other stuff we needed to work on. There were enough coaches on the ice to help you out with each of those individual skills.
“That really helped a lot.”