Cody Turcotte has already had multiple first-hand tales of the Stanley Cup, even as only a senior at Buffalo Grove playing for the co-op BG/H/W Stampede, which also includes players from Hersey and Wheeling.
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• His cousin is Alfie Turcotte, whose NHL career spanned 112 regular-season games over parts of 7 seasons, mostly for the Montreal Canadiens, with a combined 17 goals and 29 assists. Plus, he appeared in 2 games for the Canadiens during the team's Stanley Cup-winning 1985-86 season -- and to Cody, he's simply Uncle Alfie, mostly due to the near-30-year age-difference.
"He's taught me a lot, especially the advanced aspects of hockey," the younger Turcotte said. "He really taught me how to have fun while playing the game.
"When I go to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, in the mock Montreal Canadiens' dressing room, his name is on the Stanley Cup; that's pretty cool."
• Then there's Brett Lebda, who went from the U.S. Junior National Team to Notre Dame and then to the NHL -- with a Stanley Cup-winning season in Detroit in 2008. Lebda started playing hockey in Glenview and was coached by Sylvain Turcotte, Cody's dad. The two families became, and still are, so close that Brett's parents, Nancy and Steve, of Buffalo Grove, are Cody's godparents -- they are simply Uncle Steve and Aunt Nancy to Cody.
"I've learned a lot through Brett, especially the work ethic needed to get to the top and what I need to do to get better. It's been wonderful for me, to see what it's like being an NHL player," Turcotte said. "Also through Brett I learned to still have fun and do what you love."
And for Turcotte, that certainly is hockey. Turcotte, sporting uniform No. 13, is the Stampede captain, a center for the team's top line and one of the top forwards in the North Central Division. He had 23 goals, 29 assists in the team's 29 regular-season league games, which ranks 15th-best in the league.
His linemates John Cappuccitti, a junior at Hersey, and Patrick Myers, a sophomore at Hersey, also have excelled in the North Central, each ranking among the league's top 15 scorers.
BG/H/W (29-5-2 overall) sailed through the inaugural North Central Division with a 26-1-2 record, capturing first-place, ahead of Deerfield and co-op Maine Township.
"The game of hockey is always fun; it's always more fun to win. So yes, this has been a great season," Turcotte said. "I knew it was within the team's grasp to do this well, but I really didn't think we'd have as much success as we have; I'm just happy we are."
BG/H/W grabbed the No. 2 seed for the 2013 Illinois State Hockey Championships (Combined Division). Defending state champion (Combined Division) Waubonsie earned the No. 4 seed, while perennial power Rockford grabbed the top seed.
The state championship will be played Sunday, March 24, at the United Center.
Turcotte plans to be there -- on the ice.
"The way I see it is, (winning) the state championship or nothing," he said. "That's what we want and we're not going to accept anything less. We want to be there at the United Center, getting the recognition."
Turcotte certainly is a main reason BG/H/W could be skating on the final day of the 2012-13 season.
"Cody is the player that every coach would want to have on his team; he's just a team leader with great knowledge of the game," said BG/H/W coach Bob Wagner. "He's an inspiration to the other kids (on the team), one who plays the game by example."
Turcotte's road to the rink early on was paved by his dad, Sylvain, himself a hockey lifer. Sylvain grew up in Montreal and went to the University of Quebec in Montreal where he played hockey. Sylvain moved to the Chicago area in 1987 and has been the hockey director for the Glenview Park District since then. He is also the hockey director for the Glenview Stars, a travel hockey organization. He has coached all levels of youth hockey, winning multiple state championships along the way.
"He is the single biggest influence in my career as a hockey player," Cody said of his Dad, who taught Cody's Learn To Skate classes. "He knows the game so well and is so good at teaching it in a fun way that kids love to learn. The game now just comes naturally from what he taught me -- the basics of the game, the positioning, how to read the play, etc."
Turcotte admits his families' hockey lineage, plus their association with Lebda, has led to added pressure. In fact, he admits that there was a time when he questioned his playing future.
"I clearly am the worst Turcotte hockey player. It took a while to ultimately accept that," he said, laughing. "But when I started thinking about it, I realized that it didn't matter how good I was because I loved the game and knew that would take me farther than my skills ever could.
"There's so much more I can do with the game of hockey, much more than just being a player, and when I realized that, it really put me at ease with where I was in the game."
When he's done playing, Turcotte plans to follow the families' path into coaching. "I've grown up with a lot of people who really know the game and have taught it to me well, such that, I think I can teach the game probably better than I can play it," he said. "Hockey has taught me so much. Not just about the sport, but life in general."
Away from the rink, Turcotte often has a guitar in hand, and he sings pretty well, too. In fact, he had a running, er, singing gig at a sushi restaurant in Buffalo Grove where, believe it or not, he sang mostly country music. "It was a little weird, but fun at the same time," he said, smiling.
Turcotte is still undecided on his college plans for the fall, though he's narrowed his choices down to Dayton, Louisville and Ohio University. But before heading off to college, Turcotte plans to return to Michigan over the summer to work at Wolf Lake Ranch Resort, where he spent last summer working as, ugh, a wrangler. "(That title) sounds better than poop-scooper, as that was the majority of the job -- picking up the horses' poop," he said.
Still, he had a blast and knows his sport improved because of it.
"It was a lot of fun and a great experience that really helped get my upper-body strength ready for hockey," he said. "I can't wait to go back (this summer) -- to play guitar and sing songs at the campfire for guests."
And talk about hockey with anyone and everyone, just as he does at home.