When he arrived at Schenectady for his freshman year, Mat Bodie was a solid collegiate defenseman, but hadn't developed the skills that truly turned him into an NHL prospect.
That came through hard work and dedication, according to his head coach and teammates.
"I've had coaches tell me: Develop that shot," said Bodie after Union took down Boston College in the national semifinal, with Bodie scoring a game-tying goal midway trough the contest. "And I've been working on my shot all year. I think I've got two of them, two slap shot goals there."
Bodie's game is grounded in his own zone. Despite not being a big player at 6-feet-tall, Bodie uses his quick feet and high IQ to put him in the right position to make plays.
It's also his off-ice presence that those around the national champion Dutchmen took notice of.
More on Mat Bodie
More on Mat Bodie
"What [Bodie] probably won't say, but behind the scenes the guy's a great leader and he calms everything down," said fellow Union defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. "We're down a goal, tied, whatever, just like that, leadership is a big part of why our team is where we are, because of that guy."
According to his head coach, Rick Bennett, Bodie has been crafting his game for four years, working on each intricate element to round himself out as a player.
"Just the way he carries himself. He has a tremendous amount of pride," said Bodie. "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.
"Even before he got to campus, he would call and ask 'what can I work on?'"
One of the areas Bennett pointed out to Bodie was his offensive game.
"He mentioned one tonight, working on his shot," said Bennett. "And he has. You've seen some beautiful goals the past few games here, but that's due to his hard work."
Hard and accurate, Bodie possess an NHL-caliber shot that gives him a legitimate chance to succeed at the next level. His skating ability and patience play a big role putting him in shooting lanes along the blue line, as can be seen in his goal linked above.
At 24-years-old, Bodie comes in a bit older than some post-college prospects, but that also speaks to his maturity. Bodie won't join the club immediately, and will begin team activities this summer at the Rangers' development camp.