After the Union hockey team’s first skill session in mid-September, Dutchmen coach Rick Bennett was very complimentary of junior defenseman Mat Bodie. He cited Bodie as taking charge of the session, and doing a fine job with it.
That’s what a captain does.
Bodie will serve as the Dutchmen’s captain this season, and will lead the ECAC Hockey champions in their season opener against Merrimack tonight at 7 at Messa Rink.
“He’s a guy that gets it done,” Bennett said. “He’s starting to get more vocal, so he carries it from there. He does an excellent job in school, so he can carry it from both ends of the table.
“When he’s talking to someone, he has a lot of respect.”
Bodie is no stranger to being a captain. He was captain of his junior hockey team, the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League.
But being captain of the Dutchmen brings with it enormous pressure. After all, the past two captains, defensemen Brock Matheson and Nolan Julseth-White, guided the team to great heights. With Matheson as captain, the Dutchmen won their first ECACH Cleary Cup regular-season title in 2011 and made the NCAA tournament for the first time.
Last year, with Julseth-White as captain, Union won its second straight Cleary Cup, and then followed that up with its first ECACH tournament title, an NCAA tournament East Regional championship and a Frozen Four appearance.
The 22-year-old Bodie is ready for the challenge.
“To follow in the footsteps of guys like ‘Juice’ and Brock Matheson, it’s a huge honor to be captain of this program,” Bodie said. “I’m just going to go about my business the same as usual. Brock and Juice were great role models. I’m going to try and duplicate some of the things they’ve done to be a great leader of this program.”
Bodie has had an outstanding two seasons with the Dutchmen, collecting 14 goals and 47 assists in 79 career games. He was named to the All-ECACH first team, and was a second-team All-American.
Senior center Kyle Bodie, who will serve as an alternate captain, along with senior defenseman Greg Coburn, knows his brother will do a fine leader.
“Anytime you’re named captain, it’s a huge honor,” Kyle Bodie said. “Obviously, for him, he’s a junior, so he’s got two more years left. He’s going to do a great job at it.”
Mat Bodie plans to be a vocal leader, but he will also lead by example.
“If something needs to be said, I have no problem stepping up and saying it to the boys,” Mat Bodie said. “But it will be mostly on-ice stuff, making sure the guys know I’m working my hardest every shift. Being an older guy, you want to pass down your knowledge to some of the younger guys, but even to your classmates.
“That was one thing Brock was real good for. My freshman year, he helped me out. After shifts, after reps and drills, he would always be talking to me, saying, ‘Try this, try that.’ Hopefully, I can pass that on to some of the younger guys.”
The Dutchmen will celebrate their 2011-12 season with the raising of four banners before the game. The ceremony will start at 6:50 p.m. . . .
Union is 11-10 in season openers since becoming a Division I team in 1991. The Dutchmen are 9-3 in their last 12 openers. . . .
Merrimack played a role in the Dutchmen’s first opener. The Warriors beat the Dutchmen, 9-6, on Nov. 1, 1991.