Tracking the Storm

Dodge Makes Unlikely Contribution

Friday, 04.22.2011 / 10:51 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Dodge Makes Unlikely Contribution
In the postseason, big contributions tend to come from unlikely sources.

Paul Branecky
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That can certainly be said of Charlotte Checkers center Nick Dodge, who scored the game-winning goal, his second in as many contests, to cap a memorable 5-3 comeback victory in Game 5 of his team’s Calder Cup playoff series with the Hershey Bears. The goal marked his third of the postseason, which isn’t bad for a player who scored just 5 during the entire regular season.

While Dodge’s offensive outburst may seem like an anomaly, it’s not the first time this has happened. Last season, he netted 4 goals in eight playoffs games after a regular-season campaign that featured just 16. For his American Hockey League career, he now averages 0.54 goals per game in the postseason as opposed to just 0.16 otherwise.

“This time of year, it’s those unsung heroes and third- or fourth-line guys that are usually stepping up,” said Checkers coach Jeff Daniels.

Dodge, a sixth-round pick of the Hurricanes in 2006, was modest about his latest goal, which came as the result of a pretty passing play with Drayson Bowman and Oskar Osala, who each finished with a goal and 2 assists. Bowman started the play by winning the puck along the wall and dishing to a streaking Osala, who started to go behind the net before sending a centering feed to Dodge in front.

“I wasn’t even expecting it,” said Dodge.

He had more to say about his effort on the defensive end - normally his bread and butter. Not long after he had scored to give the Checkers their first lead of the night, he was called upon to kill 53 seconds of a key two-man advantage along with defensemen Casey Borer and Brett Bellemore.

“We did a good job of taking away their shooting lanes and not giving them much,” said Dodge.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that Hershey managed to break two sticks during the sequence.

“That always helps,” he said.

By giving his team the lead and then helping to protect it, Dodge played as big of a role as any in his team’s comeback, but he wasn’t alone. Every one of his teammates came out for the third period with a purpose after Brett Sutter’s goal near the end of the second gave them some hope.

“It was our biggest game of the year and there were not enough guys stepping up,” said Daniels of his team’s start, before adding, “That third period is the team I’ve seen all year.”

Notable contributions in the third period also came from Bowman, who was initially credited with a power-play goal one minute in the third period before it was changed to Zach Boychuk (he later added an empty-netter), and Osala, who was a constant threat on the offensive end and even found himself in the middle of several after-whistle shoving matches.

Bowman, part of the Hurricanes’ team that suffered a crushing end to the season, said he’s rebounded from that disappointment.

“You come down with confidence,” he said. “It started to go away a little bit, but now it’s back.”

Prior to setting up Dodge, Osala, a former Bear, tied the game on a breakaway attempt against ex-teammate Braden Holtby.

“I know Holtby pretty well, and he knows I’m going to shoot high glove so I tried to mix it up and shoot five-hole,” he said.

Fresh on the heels of their emotional comeback, the Checkers will now try to keep that momentum as they head back to Hershey for Game 6 and potentially Game 7. To close the series, a more complete effort will likely be needed.

“We got away with only playing 20 minutes,” said Daniels.
 
But what a 20 minutes it was.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72