By Terrance Gavan
Haliburton cottager Cody Hodgson is back.
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And the Manitoba Moose centre is pretty pumped about an eastern road trip this week.
You see, Hodgson, who’s been out of the Moose lineup since before Christmas with an orbital bone fracture has been chomping at the bit waiting for medical clearance.
I had a chance to talk with Hodgson by phone on Monday afternoon.
He’s already played a home game – a 5-3 win over Abbotsford Heat – last Sunday and will be making the trip with the Moose for this week’s road matchups versus Hamilton Bulldogs (Wednesday at the Copps), Rochester Americans (Saturday, Jan 29) and a 2 pm Sunday showdown at the Ricoh against the Toronto Marlies.
Hodgson did not score in his first game back after injury, but said that he felt comfortable.
“It’s really nice to get into the groove of playing hockey again,” said Hodgson. “I felt good getting back on the ice.
There was a little rust, but it was great to get back into the game again. I’m really excited.”
Hodgson only had a few practices before jumping back into the fray of live action and his coach Claude Noel was not expecting miracles.
Noel told Winnipeg Free press reporter Randy Turner that he wanted to ease his star centre back in gradually but reality and injuries dictated otherwise. Hodgson was listed as uncertain prior to Sunday’s contest. But after teammate and fellow centreman, Marco Rosa, was scratched by a knee injury on Friday night, Hodgson got the call.
“I didn’t mind Cody,” Noel said. “For a guy that’s been out six, seven weeks — and he only practised with us a couple of days — with the energy level he needed (in a rugged affair).
“Circumstances put him in the game,” Noel told the Freep. “I don’t know if I would have played him (otherwise). But I thought he played real well.
“He found his way around the ice. I thought he showed patience. I thought they (the Heat) went after him early, they tried to go after him physically. So he showed a lot of courage staying with his game and playing.
“Even at the end I thought, ‘Oh, he’s not going to have much energy left. But he’ll sleep tonight’.”
Hodgson told Turner after the game that rushed or not, it beats sitting in the stands.
“It was nice to be back with the guys and help contribute,” Hodgson told Turner. He played on a line with wingers Bill Sweatt and Jordan Schroeder. “It was kind of a last-minute thing to be put in the line-up, but it felt really good.
“Obviously, I want to get back to the level I was playing before and even better,” he added. “I’ve got some great linemates so that made it more exciting to get back in the lineup. I’m glad to be out there.”
Schroeder and Hodgson are both first round picks of parent club Vancouver Canucks. Hodgson has 10 goals and 6 assists in only 25 games with the Moose. Hodgson went tenth overall in 2008 and Schroeder went 22nd in the 2009 draft.
The Sunday call to play even with the short notice was good for him said Cody.
“I got hit a few times (in Sunday’s game) but I felt okay with the contact,” Hodgson said. “I was really happy to be out on the ice again last night. There was a little bit of rust but I hope to be regaining my old form soon.”
He’s hoping that the spark rekindles this week.
Many of his Markham friends, relatives, and old hockey teammates will be on hand to watch Cody play in Hamilton and at the Ricoh.
Hodgson said that playing in front of those old familiar faces simply adds to the thrill.
“I’ve talked to my parents and I’m sure that both sides of the family will get to the games,” said Hodgson. “Obviously it’s a great feeling to be home and to be playing hockey in front of those people.”
But above all, Hodgson said, there’s that special freedom.
Being back on the ice; back in his element; and back home.
“What’s nice is to be able to play again instead of sitting in the stands watching,” said Hodgson.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]