When close to one-hundred fans of all ages decked out in Ottawa 67’s gear were told that no 67’s players would be doing autographs following their 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Brampton Battalion Friday night at the Ottawa Civic Center, the lack of movement amongst the crowd may have been surprising to some.
But for those who paid attention to last month’s World Junior Championships, the reason to stay was clear. The fans were there to pay tribute to the tournament point leader and a key contributor to Canada’s success, Cody Hodgson. Of course, they also wanted his autograph.
After playing his third game in as many nights, Cody Hodgson would have probably loved to hop on the heated bus with his teammates and head back home. Instead, his teammates waited on the bus, as Hodgson was busy signing Team Canada memorabilia and the odd Canucks item while taking pictures with numerous fans for close to half-an-hour. What’s more, this was after Hodgson signed autographs and dealt with the media at ice level immediately following the game. By the time that Hodgson finally got into the dressing room, some of his teammates were already exiting it.
Clearly, the nation’s capital has developed a soft spot for Vancouver’s first round draft pick in last summer’s entry draft, and the feeling is mutual.
“I’ve always liked the city, but I love playing here now too,” said Hodgson after the game, with his patent chuckle. “Playing in front of these fans, and in this building, I just enjoy it.”
Being back in Ottawa, and meeting up with several of his teammates from the national junior squad at the recent OHL All-Star game has given Hodgson feelings of nostalgia.
“It was great at the all-star game seeing all the guys again and getting together and reminiscing about some of the stories. It doesn’t actually feel like that long ago,” said Hodgson, who has only been held pointless in three games this season. “I think the biggest thing that stands out is just standing at the blue line and singing the national anthem. It was just a proud moment, a proud moment to be Canadian.”
Not only was the all-star game a time for reminiscence, it was also time to play a hockey game. And in Hodgson’s case, it was a good one at that. Hodgson recorded three goals and added a helper, leading the Eastern Conference squad to an 11-6 victory.
“It was a ton of fun,” said Hodgson. “It’s always fun to play with some top caliber players like that. There were obviously quite a few goals scored but at the same time I found that it was good hockey too.”
Even though Hodgson’s focus remains on the Brampton Battalion, who recorded their 12th consecutive victory Friday night, he still tries to keep up to date with the Vancouver Canucks, and looks forward to the opportunity to don the orca in the very near future.
“I actually still keep in contact with a few guys. I watch highlights and stuff like that all the time,” Hodgson mentioned. “They’re a great team and it would be a great organization to play for. It would be a real honor.”
Many believe it to be a foregone conclusion that Hodgson will be with the big club next season. And in that case, would he sport Markus Naslund’s old #19 like he does with the Battalion, attempt to snag Steve Bernier’s #18 which he wore for Team Canada, or go for something new?
“Ah, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said, once again with his patent chuckle. “As long as I make the team, I’ll be happy.”
With his two assists Friday night, Hodgson extended his point streak to 22 games, recording 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points during that stretch. He has recorded at least one point in 32 of his last 33 games.
Message to all Canucks fans: get excited.