Bodie is Latest Hopeful to Make an Impact

After Brian Gibbons (goal, two assists) and Jayson Megna (two goals), two forwards pushing for spots with the parent New York Rangers, had big nights Monday in New York’s preseason-opening, 6-3 win over New Jersey, it was a defenseman, second-year pro Mat Bodie, who stood out on the scoresheet Tuesday evening, in a 5-3 loss at Philadelphia.

Bodie, the second-leading point-scorer among Wolf Pack blueliners as a rookie last year, with five goals and 32 points in 75 games, scored two of the Rangers’ three goals against the Flyers. It was a big night for former Union College d-men at the Wells Fargo Center, as Bodie’s former Dutchmen teammate Shayne Gostisbehere scored twice for the Flyers.

Pack head coach Ken Gernander, who was back at the XL Center Wednesday after his contributions in Traverse City, coaching the Ranger team in the NHL Prospects Tournament, and at Ranger training camp, was excited to see one of his key guys from 2014-15 have such a strong night Tuesday.

Mat Bodie

Mat Bodie

“We really appreciated what he (Bodie) did for us last year, it’s excellent to see guys get an opportunity and have some success there (at the NHL level),” Gernander said. “So we were real pleased for Matt.”

Gernander’s Ranger counterpart, Alain Vigneault, said this about Bodie to the media after the Philadelphia game, “I remember him a little bit from last year and there’s no doubt that there’s some progression on his part. You guys asked me a lot about (Dylan) McIlrath, but one of the guys that (the Wolf Pack) coaches said that during their playoff run last year was so good, and played with Dylan, was Bodie and tonight I could see why.  He’s got a little big stick and knows how to put it defensively, and when he’s got the puck on his stick most of the time he makes the right plays with the puck.  He had a strong game for us tonight and that was good for us to see.”

With Bodie’s output Tuesday night, Gibbons’ and Megna’s contributions to Monday’s win, and Oscar Lindberg scoring in both games, Gernander feels that the players who are hoping to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL are making strong statements.

“By and large, it looks like there is going to be considerable depth and there’s going to be a lot of competition for some spots” the Wolf Pack bench boss said. “We were proud of the group the way they played last year down the stretch into the playoffs, and to see them get rewarded with some success here in the preseason–it’s just a real likeable group and you’re always pulling hard for them–it’s good to see them have some success.”

Meanwhile, the Ranger organization Wednesday made its first roster cuts, sending a dozen players to the Wolf Pack, returning six underage players to their respective Junior clubs and releasing one goaltender, Jake Smith, outright from his tryout. Many, if not most, of the first Wolf Pack assignees will be on the bubble between Hartford and its ECHL affiliate, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and Gernander is expecting the same battle level for roster spots in his camp as has been on display at Ranger training camp.

“If our guys are pushing for opportunities at the NHL level, there’s a strong amount of depth,” he said, “and it’s going to be even more competitive here as we try to fill out our roster.”

Players will report to Hartford Friday for Wolf Pack camp, with the first practice slated for Sunday morning at the XL Center.

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