Born: February 18, 1989
Position: Left wing
Weight: 204 lbs.
Hometown: Airdrie, Alta.
2008-2009 team: Red Dee Rebels — WHL
Draft: Free agent
Player info: Cody Esposito scrapped his way through his first two years in the Western Hockey League and is a willing heavyweight combatant for the Red Deer Rebels this season.
After working with his dad in the elder Esposito’s concrete business for a month, the 19-year-old joined Rebels teammate Luke Egener and the likes of pros Nick Tarnasky and Mike Egener for training sessions near Father David Bauer Arena, where he then shared ice time with, among others, Flames defenceman Rhett Warrener and Cory Sarich last June.
“It was a really good experience to work out with those guys to see what they do to get to the next level. And the guys on the ice taught us a lot just by being out there,” Esposito said.
The Airdrie native honed his puck skills during the off-season while using a workout device his father constructed years ago.
“My dad built me an old pad with a net and boards when I was really young, so I took advantage of that this summer,” he said. “I was shooting up to 500 pucks on some days and also stickhandling through pylons with tennis balls. I needed to work on that part of my game, and that’s what I did.”
Esposito will be the first to admit he won’t be among the top Rebels scorers this season, that he and the team will be better served if he sticks to playing a power game.
“I just have to listen to the coaches and stay with my physical game and add the goal-scoring part once in awhile,” he said. “But that will be just a bonus in my game. I have to work hard and be a power forward, use my size and hopefully chip in when I can.”
He’ll also contribute by protecting his teammates.
“When I have to scrap I will, but I’m definitely not going to go around looking for it like I was in the past,” he insisted.
If Esposito wants to take his act to the next level, to the pro ranks.
“This is kind of the last chance for me as far as the NHL draft goes,” he admitted. “I feel I’ve done everything I can this summer and so far this fall. I’ve just got to stay focused, as does everybody else.”
“You know, ‘Espo’ is a pretty good hockey player. I recall him being at an under-17 camp in Calgary, a camp consisting of the top 30 kids in Alberta in his age group,” said head coach Jesse Wallin. “He got into Spokane as a young guy and kind of got penciled into a certain role and played that way. He kind of got labeled as that type of player, but he’s coming to find as he comes into his own that he can be a pretty decent player in this league.
“He brings a pretty good mix to our team. Obviously he has to be a physical player for us, he has to be a presence that way. But he also has great speed and a good shot, and when he’s out there playing with speed he’s a pretty big presence. Opposing defencemen know when he’s on the ice.
“When he plays at a high tempo he can be a pretty effective player for us and he’s going to be a big part of our team.”