(PHN) — A few months ago it would have been a foregone conclusion that Jordy Bellerive would be in a Penguins uniform on Thursday preparing to take part in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo.
That was before June 15.
While at a party, the 19-year-old Lethbridge Hurricanes center had his hands severely burned from an explosion when a substance was placed into a bonfire. Per the police report, an ambulance rushed Bellerive to a Calgary hospital where spent 12 days recuperating from severe burns to both hands.
And he’s still deliberately vague on the circumstances surrounding the incident.
“I can’t really touch on that,” Bellerive said. “It’s kind of a personal subject, but it was an unfortunate event and I’m gonna have to recover from it.”
He was one of three people who were injured. Bellerive’s Lethbridge teammate Ryan Vandervlis remains hospitalized and former Hurricanes player Matt Alfaro was treated and released.
During his stay, doctors told the undrafted Penguins prospect who signed a three-year entry-level contract prior to last season, he would need a full year to recover. Instead, Bellerive returned to the ice last week and was a full participant in Lethbridge’s training camp.
“That was obviously pretty hard when they tell you–you’re not going to play for a year, that’s pretty gut-wrenching for a young hockey player,” Bellerive said. “Now to be back, I’m really excited..”
On Thursday, Bellerive showed the Penguins his progress in person. He was on the ice at the Lemieux Sports Complex and worked out with the team prior to making the trek to Buffalo for the weekend.
“Obviously the expectations weren’t to be here originally,” Bellerive said. “It was supposed to be a year or something like that, so to be back this early and playing again, I’m pretty fortunate.”
Last year Bellerive sparkled at the HarborCenter. He scored four goals and chipped in three assists including a hat trick in a game against the New Jersey Devils. He subsequently attended the Penguins full training camp last year and saw action in the preseason game with one shot and two penalty minutes.
After he was returned to Lethbridge he led his junior team with 46 goals and 92 points — good for 12th in the Western Hockey League — and a was a WHL all-star. After he scored nine goals and 235 points in the playoffs, he participated in the Penguins rookie camp in June before the accident that nearly cost him his career.
Though he says he’s close to 100 percent, the fact he is even back on the ice at all at this point is a minor miracle.
“Honestly it’s kind of more of a mental thing for me. I kind of made the decision right away that I needed to get out of there as fast as possible and try to do all my treatments way ahead of schedule,” Bellerive said. “They said that a lot of people are afraid to use their hands after something like that, and that was kind of the first thing I did was to use them and get back into normal shape, so I think that helped a lot.”