Defensemen Shayne Gostisbehere and Mat Bodie helped Union win an NCAA hockey title Saturday night.
Now, they will become adversaries in their pro careers.
The two All-Americans signed NHL deals Tuesday. Gostisbehere gave up his senior season to join the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that drafted him in the third round of the 2012 draft. After a four-year career, Bodie, a free agent, is headed to the New York Rangers, the Flyers’ Metropolitan Division rival, after signing a contract. Ironically, the teams will meet in the Stanley Cup playoffs starting Thursday.
Gostisbehere, who turns 21 on Sunday, will report to the Adirondack Phantoms today, but won’t play until Friday against Bridgeport at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
“It definitely will be pretty weird [facing Bodie],” Gostisbehere said at a press conference at Messa Rink. “Normally, I just look over to my right and he’s there on the bench with me. It’s definitely awesome if we both get that opportunity to do that. It will be a moment I won’t forget.”
The 24-year-old Bodie, who served as the Dutchmen’s captain for two seasons, won’t join the Rangers until their summer development camp. He’s looking forward to playing against Gostisbehere, whether it be in the NHL or AHL.
“Anytime you play a former teammate, there’s always a little something extra there,” Bodie said. “If we do ever get to play against each other, I’m sure we will have a lot of fun with it. Both clubs have great fans.”
The signings came within a few hours of each other. Bodie’s announcement came in the late morning, while Gostisbehere’s came around 1 p.m.
“Both of these guys represented our program in a first-class manner,” Union coach Rick Bennett. “Not taking anything away from the hockey side, but they did everything that was asked of them in the community, in the classroom and never found any issues at all. We do appreciate that as a coaching staff because they never took away from the team. That is a huge component on why these guys are successful.
“We’re extremely happy as a coaching staff to see players move on. I won’t sugarcoat it. It’s really nice that Mat Bodie is going to stay the whole four years. And Shayne, on his side, it’s tough to see a guy leave early, but at the same token, he’s going to come back and get his degree.”
Gostisbehere’s signing was expected, especially after his performance in the Frozen Four at the home of the Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center.
He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Frozen Four after collecting a goal and four assists in the wins over Boston College and Minnesota. He had a goal and two assists and had a plus-seven defensive rating in the 7-4 victory over the Golden Gophers in the championship game.
Gostisbehere, who finished his Union career with 22 goals and 60 assists in 119 games, was asked numerous times about the Flyers, especially from the Philadelphia media, during the Frozen Four. But he kept his concentration on trying to win the NCAA title.
“I knew there was going to be a lot of attention there because the Frozen Four was in Philly,” Gostisbehere said. “My biggest focus there was staying focused with Union College hockey and what we had to do there. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
In 42 games this season, Gostisbehere had nine goals and 25 assists with a plus-33, tops among defensemen in the country. Gostisbehere was named co-winner of the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and Best Defensive Defenseman. He was a first-team All-ECACH and was named to all-tournament teams in the ECACH, NCAA East Regional and Frozen Four. Gostisbehere was named a first-team All-America, and was a Hobey Baker Award top-10 finalist.
“It was a tough decision,” Gostisbehere said. “There were many tears. It was just a family decision.”
Bodie had an outstanding career with Union. He is the Dutchmen’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 124 points. This season, he had eight goals and 31 assists. He scored a goal in each of Union’s four NCAA games. Like Gostisbehere, Bodie was a first-team All-America, a first-team All-ECACH and was named to all-tournament teams in the ECACH, NCAA East Regional and Frozen Four.
There were about six teams interested in Bodie, but the Rangers seemed to be the best fit.
“The Rangers really showed a lot of interest,” Bodie said. “I didn’t look at too many other areas. I don’t know much about their roster. I haven’t looked at the depth chart. But just talking with my agent and Jeff Gorton, the assistant GM, they said they don’t have a lot of guys that play like me. They don’t have too many offensive defensemen. I figured that’s an area that I can come in and maybe contribute. Hopefully, I get that chance and make the most of it when it comes.”