It was a few days of flurry for East St. Paul’s Mat Bodie.
Three days after captaining the Union College Dutchmen to their first-ever NCAA Division I championship in Philadelphia on April 12, the 24-year-old defenceman inked a contract with the New York Rangers.
The NCAA title, secured with a 7-4 win over the University of Minnesota Gophers, capped Bodie’s college career on a high note. He’s disappointed it didn’t come a little sooner, though, as for the previous three seasons, he had suited up alongside brother Kyle with the Schenectady, N.Y.-based Dutchmen.
"He’s my biggest fan. He was texting me all year, calling me, following me, following the team," Bodie said. "He did that with all the guys in the program. It’s a really special bond you have with your college teammates, and being able to share that with my brother, he was right there alongside me when we were winning that championship."
Bodie said he knew right from when he committed to Union that a national championship was attainable. However, it was in his sophomore season in 2011-12 when the Dutchmen made their first Frozen Four run after winning both the Cleary Cup as ECAC regular season champions and the Whitelaw Cup as ECAC tournament champions, that his belief became tangible.
"We really thought we had all the pieces, and it just goes to show you how hard it is to win one of these things," he said. "You only have that one-year window with any given team, and it’s four wins, and you’re national champions.
"It makes every game so intense."
Union was the only relative newcomer in the Frozen Four, as the other three squads — Minnesota, North Dakota, and Boston College — had a combined 17 titles and 65 Frozen Four appearances.
"It makes it pretty cool, since those other three teams are hockey gold in the college hockey world," Bodie said. "There’s so much tradition, so many national championships combined between the schools.
"That’s something we’re trying to build at Union."
Bodie, who wore Union’s "C" for the past two seasons, had previously served as a captain with the Winnipeg Thrashers. He acknowledged there was a little bit of a learning curve in the role from his first year to his second year at Union, but noted the other Dutchmen, including former captains Nolan Julseth-White and Brock Matheson, were incredibly helpful.
"The two captains that were here before me were tremendous guys and tremendous people — they taught me a lot about the game of hockey and how to treat people and treat your teammates. I just tried to emulate some of the things that they did," he said. "It was a very easy role to fill. Sometimes being a captain can be a little bit stressful, but that wasn’t the case at all."
Bodie won’t join the Rangers for their post-season run, which began against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 17. Instead, he’ll stay in upstate New York to finish his economics degree, which he said was important to him and his family.
"I’m happy the Rangers organization is allowing me to finish here so I get the best of both worlds," he said. "I get to chase one dream while completing another."
Even though there is a bit of a delay in acquiring Bodie’s services, the Rangers are excited to have him in the fold.
"We have been tracking his development for four years," Rangers assistant general manager Jeff Gorton told Jim Cerny of the team’s official blog, BlueshirtsUnited.com, on April 15. "He’s a real character kid who we think adds a hard to find element to our defensive depth going forward. Being captain of a championship team just adds to what he is as a player."