Clarkson’s Dodge may be seeing a lot of Albany in near future

Clarkson's Nick Dodge is in Albany for the NCAA East Regionals, and may return soon with the Albany
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Nick Dodge doesn’t want to think about his professional hockey

career just yet. The Clarkson senior forward is hoping to play four more games as a collegian.

He has at least one game this weekend at the Times Union Center, and it may not be the last one he plays at the Albany facility.

Dodge is a draft pick of the Car­olina Hurricanes, parent team of the AHL’s Albany River Rats ,who call the TU Center home. Dodge isn’t worried about the Rats just yet, because he wants to lead his 11th-ranked team to a win over eighth-ranked St. Cloud State in Friday’s NCAA tournament East Regional first semifinal at the TU Center at 4 p.m.

If the Golden Knights (21-12-4) are victorious, they would face the winner of the second semifinal between top-ranked Michigan and

No. 19 Niagara in the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday. A Knights’ vic­tory there would put them in the Frozen Four April 10-12 in Denver.

However, the future can wait.

“It’s not something that I’m really thinking about, right now,” Dodge said. “We’re just focused in on the games this coming weekend. [Playing for the Rats] might be a good opportunity, but we’ll worry about that in a few weekends.”

The Hurricanes selected the 5-foot-10, 184-pound Dodge in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL draft. Rats GM-coach Tom Rowe saw Dodge help the Knights win the ECAC Hockey tournament title last year over Quinnipiac, and was impressed with what he saw.

“Hopefully, he’s an intelligent kid, which I’m assuming he is if he went to Clarkson,” Rowe said. “He’s been captain for a couple of years. All that’s good stuff. He’ll fit in with the guys we have here, and it’ll be good to have him because, eventually, he’ll be in Albany. He’d be a guy that would definitely be joining us at some point.”

Dodge participated in the Hur­ricanes’ prospects conditioning camp that preceded training camp. He had to pay his own way.

That wasn’t the only thing that cost Dodge some money. He got hit with a puck in the mouth.

“It cost me a couple thousand dollars of dental work, but I didn’t lose any of the teeth,” Dodge said.

Dodge was Clarkson’s top returning scorer, and he was expected to improve upon his 18-goal, 21-assist effort.

But the points didn’t come as often as last season. He dropped to 12 goals and 14 assists.

“His role didn’t change,” Clarkson coach George Roll said. “He’s still on our No. 1 power-play [unit], and still playing all the minutes. I don’t know what to attribute it to. He’s played hard. He’s been a little bit snake-bitten around the net.”

Even though he struggled with his offense, Dodge never let it

affect his defensive responsibil­ities. Dodge won the ECACH’s Best Defensive Forward Award last week.

“It’s a great honor,” Dodge said. “It’s a very defensive league, so there are a lot of great defensive forwards out there.”

Dodge believes his offense is coming around. He has four goals and three assists in his last six games.

“I feel pretty good about my game over the past five or six weeks,” he said. “David Cayer and I are starting to get our form back, and we’re starting to click together again. When we got knocked out by Colgate, every time David and I were on the ice, it felt like we were going to score that game.”

Rowe isn’t worried about Dodge’s offensive drop-off.

“We weren’t expecting a whole lot of offense out of him, I don’t believe.” Rowe said. “Funny, in the pro game, [college] guys sometimes score a little bit more here, I don’t know why. He’s going to be a guy that would fit into third- and fourth-line type minutes to start out, and then see where he goes from there. I know he’s a big-time character guy, and his work ethic is supposed to be really good.”

TICKET INFORMATION

All-session passes to the East Reg­ional cost $82 for adults and $76 for students. Single-session passes are $46 for adults and $44 for students. Tickets can be purchased at the TU Center box office, select Price Chopper outlets, charge-by-phone at (800) 30-EVENT or online at www.-

timesunioncenter-albany.com.

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