Dodge County's Lamb a natural on the ice
KASSON — Brody Lamb still remembers his first official hockey practice, more than 10 years ago.
"Matty and I ... I don't know, we just click," Lamb said of his teammate and friend, Matt Donovan. "We started playing together out here when we were Termites. We grew up together.
"Ever since we met, our first practice in Termites, we were both up there with the best players. We connected in that first practice and have been really close ever since."
So no one is more qualified to speak to Lamb's skills and dedication than Donovan, his linemate for the past decade.
"Brody's always open," Donovan said. "I can have the puck and he'll have four guys shadowing him, but he's always there, finding a way to get open and score a goal."
Lamb has done a lot of goal scoring this season, despite constantly drawing attention from more than one opposing defender. The Dodge County sophomore forward leads the state in goals (46), is 11th in points (66) and has helped the Wildcats to a 20-5-0 record and the No. 1 seed in the Section 1A boys hockey playoffs, which begin tonight with first-round games.
Dodge County will wait until Thursday to open its postseason, when it will host the winner of tonight's game between eighth-seeded Winona and ninth-seeded Austin.
"We started playing together from the (beginning) and had a friendship right away," said Donovan, who missed most of the first half of the season due to injuries. "We've gone to different schools, but we formed that bond through hockey and we've played together (as linemates) all throughout (our careers).
"We move the puck well, we can always find each other and no matter what, I know he's always there."
Fellow sophomore Brendon Wolesky rounds out the Wildcats' most dynamic line, a trio that has combined for 68 goals and 118 points this season.
"Me and Matt have played together for a long time so we have really good chemistry," Lamb said, "and Wolesky, he just knows how to get open. We have that chemistry, too, where we can find one another and know where each other will be."
HOCKEY IN HIS BLOOD
Lamb has helped Dodge County earn the No. 1 seed in the section playoffs for the first time ever. He and his classmates made some history last winter, too, when they became the first Bantam A team from Dodge County to qualify for a state tournament. They qualified for two state tournaments, in fact, the Minnesota Hockey state tournament as well as the VFW state tournament.
On the bench alongside Brody for both of those tournaments, and the entire season, was his dad, Jeff.
Jeff Lamb was a key forward on Rochester Mayo's first-ever state tournament team, in 1982. The Spartans lost to eventual state champion Edina in the quarterfinals that year and placed sixth. Jeff went on to play four seasons of Division I hockey at the University of Denver before a three-year pro hockey career in the AHL and IHL.
"My dad definitely worked with me all the way up," said Brody, who won the Wiz Wyatt Award in 2017 as the state's youth player of the year. "When I was little, he took a lot of time to work with me on my skating. Now, it's the little things — the Hockey IQ stuff that I can work on throughout a game and practice and carry it into the future."
Brody Lamb, at 6-feet, 155 pounds, has inherited his dad's size and strength, as well as his abilities. He is a target of many of the top college programs in the country, was selected by Green Bay in last spring's USHL Futures Draft and participated in last summer's USA Hockey Boys Select 16 Player Development Camp, marking him among the best players in his age group in the country.
"I don’t think he gets tired of the game," Dodge County head coach Nick Worden said. "A lot of kids in youth or high school hockey can get burnt out at different points. I don’t see that in him ... if there's ice available somewhere, he wants to be on it and work on his skills.
"That’s going to help him a lot when he gets to the next level and has the grind or the job of it all."
WORKING TO IMPROVE
Goal-scoring comes naturally to Lamb, as does his ability to handle the puck in tight spaces.
Yet his desire to continue to grow and improve as a player is what his coaches enjoy most about having him on the team.
"He’s become a more physical player throughtout the year," Worden said. "In Bantam hockey you didn’t always see that, but now he’s a physical presence on the ice and can really pound people when he wants to."
And while he leads the Wildcats on the stat sheet, Lamb is appreciative of the team's leaders, the upperclassmen who wear the letters on their jerseys.
"We had a lot of confidence coming into this year," he said. "We had a lot of wins last year, we came together really well as a group and had a lot of fun. ... And joining the older guys has been great. They’ve been really accepting of us and it’s been a fun time."