Orleans, ON is under 40 kilometres away from the Canadian Tire Centre. The Ottawa suburb is also a mere 15 kilometres away from the Civic Centre, where the 67's play. For Ottawa Senators prospect Cody Ceci, home is not just where the heart is — it’s where his hockey past and future lie.
Ceci, the 15th overall selection in the 2012 NHL Draft, was in London, ON attending the Toronto Maple Leafs’-hosted rookie camp this past weekend. And a stint with the AHL’s Binghamton Senators may be on the horizon. But for now, Ceci said he’s been lucky to develop and play so close to home.
“It’s pretty cool. My family and friends are all there and they can come out and watch me play. I like when they come out; it’s always nice to go home,” he said. “I went to a few Senators’ games when I could when I was younger. It was the only team that I ended up watching. I didn’t really watch much TV, so there’s only the Senators.”
Ceci played the better part of four OHL seasons with the Ottawa 67's before being traded last season to the Owen Sound Attack to bolster their playoff chances. After enjoying the comforts of home for so long, Ceci admitted it was a challenge to ply his trade farther afield.
“It was pretty tough at first. I didn’t want to waive my no-trade clause,” he said. “I realized, after talking with Ottawa, that it would be the best thing for me. I went down there and stayed with a great family. I got to know the guys pretty quickly. It was a fun time and at the end of the year, I got to Binghamton to finish the year, so that was a cool experience as well.”
And that 39-game sojourn in Owen Sound helped prepare him for a six-game stint with the Binghamton Senators to end last year.
“It did help. At first it was tough to live away from home and it was a little different living in someone else’s house, but I had a roommate and I think that made things a little easier,” he said. “The time I was in Binghamton, it just felt like a really long road trip, being in a hotel for quite a while, but I had a roommate there as well. I was with [Matt] Puempel. It just felt like a little longer time away from home. After that it made going home that much more special.”
“I stayed in Ottawa all summer and just went to my cottage on the weekends,” he said. “I trained at the Canadian Tire Centre during the week.”
As a first round pick, Ceci knows there’s going to be pressure on him to be a big part of the Senators’ lineup in the future. Being a hometown boy only amplifies that pressure, but the 6’2”, 210-pound blueliner said it’s pressure that he’s happy to embrace.
“It’s just going to push me that much more to make the team and try to win some games in front of my family and friends,” he said. “I know they’re all expecting me to play, but it’s not really up to me. I’m just going to try my best to make the team and try to get some games in.”
Ceci added that there’s a little extra pressure being a first-round pick at this rookie camp. “There’s a little bit of pressure, but I’m just trying to go out and play my game as well as I can,” he said. “They drafted me for a reason; they definitely have future considerations for me, so I’m going to play as well as I can and see where I fit in long-term.
“You don’t want to try to do too much out there. You want to go out, have fun, and play your game as best as you can. They’re all great players out there, so it’s tough to stand out, but you have to try.”
Known as an offensive-minded defenseman (Ceci accounted for 19 goals and 64 points last season), the 19-year-old blueliner said that he wants to use the rookie camp and the upcoming main camp to show that he’s listening to his coaches’ suggestions to improve and to become familiar with some of the other players in the system.
“They’ve asked me to stay a little more focused on the d-zone and focus on the little things. To play hard in front of the net, hard in the corners. Be ready to play hard in my own end and maybe not conserve energy for offense, but to play hard all around,” he said. “I just want to take all the feedback that the coaching staff and the organization gives me and work on that. Other than that, have fun, get to know some of the guys, and play good hockey.”
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