While his teammates were playing at St. Lawrence and Clarkson last weekend, Union College senior defenseman Mat Bodie was on campus, watching the games with teammates who didn’t make the trip.
Bodie was serving a two-game suspension for his role in the Mayor’s Cup postgame fracas against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Jan. 25 at the Times Union Center.
“It [stunk],” Bodie said of sitting out. “I did it once last year when I was injured. Anytime you’re not playing, it’s not fun.”
Bodie returns to the lineup tonight when the ECAC Hockey-leading and fourth-ranked Dutchmen (11-3 ECACH, 17-6-3 overall) face Brown (6-7-1, 9-9-3), the team they beat in the ECACH tournament championship game last March, tonight at 7 at Messa Rink.
Union will host defending NCAA champion Yale on Saturday at 7 p.m.
While watching the Dutchmen split the North Country trip, Bodie had a chance to reflect on everything that transpired since his cross-check to the head of RPI’s Brock Higgs, plus a game disqualification for facemasking, that kept him out of the lineup.
“When you sit out, it gives you a chance to evaluate your game,” Bodie said. “You get to watch the guys from a different perspective. You take in the kind of plays that they’re making, and see what you would have done in that situation. Sometimes, it helps sitting out.”
But his teammates missed him last weekend.
“Anytime you don’t have your captain, it definitely hurts,” said junior Charlie Vasaturo, who is Bodie’s defensive partner. “We have great players who can fill in and play. But your team is always better with your captain in the lineup. We’re looking forward to having him back.”
Bodie is the Dutchmen’s second-leading scorer with three goals and 20 assists. He is tied with St. Lawrence’s Justin Baker for most points among ECACH defensemen.
Union coach Rick Bennett is hoping that the Mayor’s Cup incident doesn’t overshadow the career Bodie has had and the leadership he has provided in his two years as captain.
Earlier this season, Bodie became the first Union defenseman to record 100 career points, and now has 108 points. He was a second-team All-America, as well as an All-ECACH first-team selection, in 2011-12. He was on the All-ECACH third team last season, and was named to the ECACH All-Rookie team in 2010-11.
“The last time I checked, I think you judge a person on his body of work,” said Bennett, who will serve the final games of his four-game suspension this weekend. “He’s the only defenseman here in the history of Union hockey to score 100 points. Now, that is due to a lot of his teammates, and he’s played a lot of games. But that’s also because of sheer talent, sheer will and just a sheer passion for the game.
“As far as his leadership, his presence is big in the fact that he can address the room, and people are going to respect him. He’s grown as a leader in the fact that you’ve got to wear that ‘C’. It’s not the easiest thing in the world being the younger brother and having your older brother [Kyle] as the assistant captain when you’re a junior. He learned a lot there.”
With Union clinging to a one-point lead over second-place Quinnipiac in the standings, Bodie wants to focus on what the future will bring for him and his teammates.
“The guys understand that it’s just part of the game,” Bodie said. “I’m not the first player to ever be suspended, and I won’t be the last. The guys handled it great. There was a lot of support. We’ve moved on from it.”