Quiet centre makes some noise
Lodge flashes skills in baby Jets opening game in Penticton
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/09/2014 (2999 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
PENTICTON, B.C. — You haven’t heard very much from him so far in the year-plus he’s been a part of the Winnipeg Jets.
But for the keen observers, centre Jimmy Lodge came into a little clearer focus on Friday in the first game of the Canucks Young Stars Classic tournament at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Playing out of position at right wing on a line with Ben Walker and Axel Blomqvist, Lodge had a nifty goal and an assist on Walker’s marker and though the Jets lost 6-4 to the Calgary Flames’ prospects, the line was probably the Jets’ best on the night.
“I felt good,” Lodge said after the Jets ran through a morning practice on Saturday. “I’ve had a couple of exhibition games already with my OHL team (Saginaw Spirit) so having skated with them for a couple of weeks, I felt pretty good out there.
“The pace here is obviously faster than a junior exhibition game but once you get into it, you feel good out there and it just comes normal and natural.”
Lodge was part of the big group of 10 Jets draft picks in 2013, taken with the 84th overall pick, in the third round, after a season of 28 goals and 67 points that included a trending-higher theme to his play that year.
He didn’t appear at this tournament a year ago, having separated his shoulder at the U.S. world junior camp, and the injury got his season off on the wrong foot.
Lodge’s numbers dipped to just 19 goals and 46 points in 2013-14 in the OHL.
“(My draft year) I was playing more of a top-line role with a couple of good players and last year, I think we were trying to go for a run and they brought in a couple of good players and that kind of put me into more of a third-line role,” he said. “That put me down the lineup, and a couple of injuries slowed me down, too.”
Those circumstances were complicated even further late in the season with teammate Terry Trafford’s suicide.
“He was a close buddy of mine, a good teammate, and that kind of shook up our team,” Lodge said. “It was a hard thing to get over, but you’ve kind of got move forward, play the game and keep moving forward.”
Lodge has done that well if the start of rookie camp and this tournament are any indication.
“He’s put on some size since last year and that jumps out for me,” said Keith McCambridge, coach of the Jets rookie team here. “He’s a quiet young man. That’s just his personality. He’s really reclusive, if you will, but I think sometimes with players like that, you’ve got to make sure you pay attention to what they’re doing on the ice because they don’t push themselves on you.
“But when I watched him play on Friday, he had a really strong game. You saw that time in the second period when his speed was great, he got up and moving through the neutral zone and the goal that he scored, a really nice goal from in tight like that to get the puck up. You could see the set of hands he’s got.
‘He’s a quiet young man. That’s just his personality. He’s really reclusive, if you will, but I think sometimes with players like that, you’ve got to make sure you pay attention to what they’re doing on the ice because they don’t push themselves on you’
— IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge on Jets prospect Jimmy Lodge
“Real positive, in this short period of time, what I’ve seen from him.”
Lodge sounds very eager to resume the momentum he was building in his draft year
“I’d like to be a leader on my team this year,” the 19-year-old from Downington, Pa., said, looking ahead to the OHL campaign.
“We have a really young team. Only three drafted guys compared to eight last year and a lot of rookies this year. We’ll be a really young team. I was kind of a go-to guy in my second year and I’d like to be back in that role, to help out more.”
And one of the other goals he’s got in mind is to let his play give him a shot at the U.S. world junior squad, even though he was not invited to the summer camp.
“But I think I could play my way on if I have a good first half and they recognize it,” he said. “I just want to go out and play my game and they’ll see it. I’m not too worried about it, but if it comes up, it’s a good thing.”