OHL Round-up: Lodge seizes opportunity
The leap to the pro hockey level is one few are able to make. While talent, skill and dedication are compulsory in making that jump, other elements -- some beyond a young prospect's control -- play a part as well. Opportunity and exposure, for instance. And the former usually begets the latter. Offering a gifted skater the chance to develop, and hopefully shine, can be nearly as valuable as providing quality coaching and instruction.
When opportunity recently came knocking for Jimmy Lodge of the Saginaw Spirit, the young center not only answered, but jerked the proverbial door clear off its hinges and tossed it across the room. Promoted to the top line following the departure of Florida Panthers' prospect Vincent Trocheck (traded to the Plymouth Whalers after representing Team USA at the World Junior Championships), Lodge has simply flourished alongside Garret Ross (Chicago Blackhawks, 5th round, 2012) and Eric Locke. Scoring 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 17 games can't be chalked up to fluke. Not that the 17-year-old center wasn't well-regarded before; only now there's empirical evidence he can score regularly against the top shutdown lines in the league. The accompanying boost in confidence ahead of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft doesn't hurt either.
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