PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE - Fifteen games into his NHL career, Portage's Troy Bodie was getting a little anxious to net his first goal in the big leagues.
But the 24-year-old Anaheim Ducks' forward was able to give a big sigh of relief on Sunday, as he scored in the first period of his team's 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames.
"It felt great," Bodie said Monday in an interview with The Daily Graphic. "As the games kind of went on, I was thinking more and more about it — 'I've gotta score here.' It was almost nice to get it over with."
With the Ducks ahead 2-1 late in the first period on Sunday, Bodie went hard to the net, and had teammate Kyle Chipchura's shot deflect off his skate and in behind Flames' netminder Curtis McElhinney.
"It could have been exactly how I imagined it," Bodie said of the goal. "I don't ever score the pretty goals, and usually when you get the monkey off your back like that, that's how it happens."
Bodie, who turns 25 next week, had to wait for a video replay to confirm that he hadn't kicked in his first NHL marker.
"That just added a little bit more suspense to it, I guess," he said with a laugh.
Bodie has played in all 11 of the Ducks' games since being recalled from the AHL's Toronto Marlies just after Christmas, sticking around as the team has had to deal with with injuries to star forwards Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Saku Koivu, and others. Bodie said he wasn't expecting to get such a long stint with the team after being recalled.
"I figured once Getzlaf was back, and with Teemu coming back, that they would re-sync the order," he said. "I started playing well, and I was lucky enough to stick around for a couple more (games), and then there were a couple more injuries."
Bodie's season really took off after being re-assigned from the AHL's San Antonio Rampage to the Marlies, as the Ducks have no AHL affiliate this season and found a better place for him in Toronto. He recorded six goals and 10 points in 16 games with Toronto before being called up to the Ducks.
"San Antonio was kind of a poor situation. They had too many prospects there, and not really enough room for myself," said Bodie. "Toronto kind of needed some players...and that opened the door a little more for me to produce offensively and take on a bigger role.
"With some injuries (in Anaheim), as unfortunate as that is, it's been fortunate for my game."
And, Bodie has been given a progressively larger role to play during his time with the Ducks as well. His first career NHL point came as an assist on an empty-net goal, as head coach Randy Carlyle had him out protecting a slim lead, while the former Kelowna Rocket played a career-high of more than 15 minutes on Sunday.
"We don't expect Troy Bodie to replace Teemu Selanne, but Troy Bodie goes out and blocks shots and fights and creates energy and gets in on the forecheck," Carlyle told the Orange County Register earlier this week. "Those are things that probably don't get noticed a lot, but as a coaching staff you notice and you appreciate those types of things from that level of player."
The Portage product's insertion into the lineup has gone hand-in-hand with some strong play from the Ducks, as the team has gone 7-4 since his recall, and has climbed up to within six points of the final playoff position in the Western Conference.
The Ducks haven't given Bodie any indication of how long he'll be up with the big club, but he said he's not taking this opportunity for granted as Anaheim has a handful of players waiting to make their returns from injury.
"They kind of keep you on your toes...and don't want you getting too comfortable," he said. "You have to play every game like it's your last game."