Mat Bodie, the senior captain of the Union College Dutchmen, has taken his “Winnipeg, Manitoba pride” and turned it into a national championship.
Saturday night in Philadelphia, Union beat the University Minnesota Golden Gophers, 7-4, to win their first NCAA men’s hockey championship.
The Dutchmen were led by their captain, Mat Bodie who grew up in East St. Paul, attended River East Collegiate and played briefly in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League before heading off to B.C. and then Union, N.Y.
He is a young man who has done nothing but impress his head coach, Rick Bennett.
“I think he has that pride factor, he’s got that Winnipeg, Manitoba pride going,” Bennett told reporters after Union beat Boston College 5-4 on Thursday night to reach the first NCAA hockey final in school history.
“I just love the pride he has. Just the way he carries himself. He has a tremendous amount of pride. Ever since his first year, just working with him when I was back with the defensemen, you could really sense that from the first practice on.”
He was definitely the leader on Saturday night. He scored the final goal of the night, into an empty net, and set up two others, as Union scored three times in a 1:54 span in the first period and then scored twice in the final two minutes to put the game away.
“Both teams are better defensively than a 7-4 score shows,” Bodie told ESPN2 after the game. “It’s just one of those games where crazy bounces happen. We just wanted to stick with our process. We thought we were playing pretty well and great things happened.
“We approached it just one shift at a time. This is the biggest game of our lives, hands down, but you’ve got to treat it like any other game. It was tough, I had people texting me, people calling me and stuff, and, you know, it was real tough to keep that mindset, but with our sport psychologist we were able to get that done.”
Goaltender Colin Stevens made 36 saves to get the win for Union (32-6-4), the 2,200-student liberal arts college in Schenectady, N.Y., that competes in Division III in all other sports but hockey.
“I’m just little bit speechless right now,” said coach Bennett. “Just happy for our school, for this program and the past players. It’s an unbelievable experience.”
Union won its final 12 games and went 16-0-1 in its last 17. Bodie had two goals and three assists in the final two Frozen Four games.
Minnesota, meanwhile, lost for the seventh time in the title game. The Gophers were making their first appearance in the championship game since winning its second straight title in 2003. Minnesota has won five NCAA men’s hockey championships.