Brody Lamb and his teammates on the Dodge County boys hockey team returned home from the state tournament in the early morning hours of Sunday, April 4.
Later that day, less than 24 hours after helping the Wildcats to their first-ever state championship game appearance in their first-ever state tournament appearance, Lamb packed his hockey gear and left Byron for Green Bay.
The next day he was on the ice with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL.
It’s been a whirlwind of a month for the University of Minnesota commit, but he’s enjoyed every step of the process, even when he hasn’t had much time to sit and let what he’s accomplished sink in.
“I think he’ll look back as he gets older at what he’s done for the entire program and for Dodge County hockey, both boys and girls, the younger kids, too,” Dodge County boys hockey head coach Nick Worden said. “He probably doesn’t fully see it yet, but he will down the road.
“Not at all to diminish the success of our other good hockey players, but when you have a player like Brody… he has injected another level of excitement.”
Lamb told the Post Bulletin this week that he’s “90 percent certain” that he’ll forego his senior season of high school hockey to play in Green Bay next season. If so, he leaves the Wildcats program as unquestionably the best player to ever pass through it.
He brought the Wildcats to new heights and has garnered plenty of awards along the way, including being named a First Team All-State forward and the Associated Press 2021 Minnesota boys hockey Player of the Year.
He led the state in goals (52), points (87), short-handed goals (10) and points per game (3.62) as a junior. He’s also the Post Bulletin All-Area Player of the Year.
Going into Friday’s Gamblers’ home game, Lamb had played in six games this season for Green Bay. He recorded his first USHL point, an assist, in last Saturday’s victory against the U.S. National Team Development Program U17 team, which features former Rochester Mayo standout Maddox Fleming.
“Obviously it’s faster and stronger players at this level,” Lamb said. “That’s probably the biggest difference. You have to make quicker plays, you don’t have as much time. They want me to score goals, but that’s not a given in this league. I have to work my hardest, work in the defensive zone and do the little things, and the goals will come.
“I’m just getting used to the league, getting my feet wet at this level and hopefully can help them make a deep playoff run.”
Deep playoff runs are nothing new to Dodge County and Lamb, whose dad, Jeff, played at Rochester Mayo High School then played four years of Division I hockey at the University of Denver.
The Wildcats went to a state tournament two years ago as Bantams. Last year they earned the No. 1 seed in the Section 1A playoffs, only to get knocked off by Mankato East in the semifinals. That drove Lamb to return to high school hockey for his junior year, in hopes of helping the Wildcats reach another state tournament.
They did just that, going 19-4-1 and beating Mankato West 4-3 for the Section 1A championship on March 24 at Dodge County Ice Arena in Kasson. The following week the Wildcats beat Hermantown and Little Falls to reach the state championship game, where they fell to powerful Gentry Academy.
Lamb was the talk of the state, though, during the tournament. He scored 10 goals in three games, including six in the state quarterfinals win against Hermantown.
“It’s hard to put into words what he’s meant to our program,” Worden said. “I knew when he was coming up — Jeff and I had good discussions about him playing for Dodge County versus going to a Shattuck St. Mary’s or going up to the metro — and Brody wanted to be here with his buddies and be part of the Dodge County program.
“It was a neat opportunity for him to be the star here in Dodge County, and to help a bunch of kids along, too.”
After the Wildcats fell to Gentry in the Class A championship game, they remained in St. Paul and watched the Class AA championship game, when Eden Prairie topped Lakeville South in double-overtime.
The next afternoon, Worden received a text message from Kasson-Mantorville activities director Broc Threinen, who said there were about a dozen kids in the street near his house playing street hockey, dreaming of being the next Wildcats to play in a state tournament.
“Our youth numbers are growing and kids are excited,” Worden said. “Our stamp has officially been put on Dodge County hockey.”
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PAST ALL-AREA PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
2021 — Brody Lamb, Jr., F, Dodge County
2020 — Joey Malugani, Sr., F, Rochester Century
2019 — Dustin Sorensen, Sr., F, Rochester Lourdes
2018 — Jackson Killinger, Sr., G, Rochester Century
2017 — Will Zmolek, Sr., D, Rochester Century
2016 — Brady Dahl, Sr., F, Rochester John Marshall
2015 — Riese Zmolek, Sr., D, Rochester Century
2014 — Riese Zmolek, Jr., D, Rochester Century
2013 — Alex Funk & Jason Samuelson, Sr., F, Rochester Lourdes
2012 — Alex Funk, Sr., F, Rochester Lourdes
2011 — Rory Vesel, Sr., D, Rochester Lourdes