Brampton Battalion forward Cody Hodgson was named the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding player Tuesday for both stellar play and intelligent leadership.
The 19-year-old from Markham, Ont., had 43 goals and 49 assists in 53 regular-season games to finish fourth in the OHL scoring race. Hodgson has nine goals and 18 assists in 16 playoff games in leading the Battalion to their first appearance in an OHL championship final.
"Cody's the type of guy will score the big goal on the power play for you, but will also win the big faceoff on the penalty kill," Battalion head coach and general manager Stan Butler said from Toronto during a conference call. "He thrives on playing against the best players. There's no challenge that's too big for him."
The Battalion and Windsor Spitfires open the best-of-seven final Wednesday in Windsor with the winner advancing to the Memorial Cup.
Hodgson will have his name engraved on the Red Tilson Trophy that goes to the league's most valuable player, which is voted on by the media. He received 161 points in the voting process ahead of OHL scoring leader and London Knights forward John Tavares, who earned 115 points.
Previous winners include Frank Mahovlich (Toronto 1957), Stan Mikita (St. Catharines 1959), Mike Foligno (Sudbury, 1979), Doug Gilmour (Cornwall 1983), Jason Allison (1994) and Brad Boyes (2001 & 2002).
"It's real honour and something I didn't really expect coming in, but looking at past things that I've won this will always be something I remember," Hodgson said. "Hopefully I can represent the OHL like some of the guys who have come before me."
Butler said Hodgson spent Monday evening in the weight room with two young players who had played few minutes this post-season.
"Cody was kind enough to spend about a half-hour with those guys going over what it was like his first year and us putting him on the ice against Bryan Little in the playoffs and telling them if they keep working hard everything will be OK," Butler said.
"Everybody else is gone from the arena and he's still doing those types of things. What you see on the ice, he's even better off the ice."
Hodgson was drafted in the first round, 10th overall, by the Vancouver Canucks last year and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the team in October.
"He exemplifies the three things that we had clearly focused upon, which are character, leadership and skill," Canucks GM Mike Gillis said. "We were fortunate enough to be proven correct in all three of those areas.
"His character and willingness to work are remarkable for a young man his age. We feel he's on his way to becoming an elite-level national hockey league player and a member of the Canucks."
Hodgson, six feet and 188 pounds, led Canada in points with five goals and 11 assists in a gold-medal effort at the world junior hockey championships in Ottawa and was named to the tournament all-star team.
"The high point so far has definitely been winning the world junior championship for Canada, especially the experience of having it in Ottawa in the capital with all our friends and family and teammates who came to support us," Hodgson said. "Winning it here is something I'll cherish forever."
Hodgson got a long look at the Canucks camp last fall, but was sent back to the Battalion with the instruction to improve his speed and pace.
"There's a reason I didn't make it in Vancouver and there's things in my games I could work on," Hodgson said. "I really didn't see it as a setback. I feel I really improved this year and I had a lot of fun with the guys."
Hodgson led Canada with two goals and 10 assists just over a year ago at the world under-18 championship en route to a gold medal.
"It's been a real whirlwind," Hodgson said. "Looking back on it, it's been an unbelievable year."