BRAMPTON, Ont. – Cody Hodgson is to make his return to Ontario Hockey League action when the Brampton Battalion hosts the Erie Otters at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Centre Hodgson, who suffered a back injury during off-ice training last summer, hasn’t played since being assigned to the Battalion on Sept. 29 by the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League. Since then he has consulted numerous specialists and worked on his rehabilitation with Battalion head trainer Binne Brouwer. Hodgson returned to practice with the Troops in November.
"It was all about how I felt on a day-to-day basis, and that’s the way it was all through this," Battalion captain Hodgson said via telephone. "I wanted a good week of practice with no pain, and hopefully the pain doesn’t come back.
"I’ve worked with a lot of doctors, and Binne has been great through this whole thing. It’s great to see some actual progress, and I’m at the point where I feel good enough to play. I’m really looking forward to coming back and helping the team in any capacity."
Hodgson, who turns 20 on Feb. 18, hasn’t seen any game action since Sept. 27, when he earned an assist in the Canucks’ 5-4 preseason loss to the host Edmonton Oilers.
"There will be a different level of intensity, and I’m looking forward to that. It’s been too long that I’ve been out. There was a lot that needed to be done before I could play again.
"It was frustrating not to have any idea when I’d be coming back. It was tough not to get down, but working with Binne and being around the guys helped me stay motivated to get back as soon as possible."
A first-round pick in the 2006 OHL Priority Selection, Hodgson is tied with Raffi Torres for second place on the Battalion’s career scoring list with 106 goals and 117 assists for 223 points in 184 games over three seasons. His offensive prowess should prove a welcome addition to a team that has scored the fewest goals in the OHL this season.
Hodgson led the Battalion in scoring last season with 43 goals and 49 assists for 92 points in 53 games, winning the Red Tilson Trophy as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player and being named the Canadian Hockey League’s Player of the Year. He also received the William Hanley Trophy as the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.
"That’s what my game has always been," said Hodgson, whom the Canucks selected with the 10th pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. "I’m going to complement the guys as much as I can, and I’m looking forward to that challenge. There’s still going to be a feeling-out process. You can work with a guy all you want in practice, but it really comes down to working in a game."
Having watched a number of the Battalion’s recent home games from the stands, he said he’s ready to assume a leadership role on the ice.
"It’s going to be great to interact with the guys in a game situation. I won’t be picking out things watching from the stands, and when guys ask for advice I can actually help them on the ice.
"We’re a younger team, and there’s a lot of talent here, and we also have some experienced older guys with a lot of character. I’ve been practising with a bunch of different linemates and I think I can play with any of them."
Great, great, great news. I'm looking forward to cheering for him when the Battalion visit the London Knights on Saturday night.