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Auburn’s J.D. Dudek, shown in recent action against Northeastern, visits UNH on Saturday night with his Boston College Eagles.

 

J.D. Dudek has always considered himself a high-energy guy, a trait he has utilized in his role as a senior leader and fourth-line forward for the Boston College men’s hockey team this year.

Dudek, who is from Auburn and the son of former Plymouth State football legend Joe Dudek, logged a career-high 22 points (13 goals, nine assists) his sophomore year. As a junior, the Edmonton Oilers prospect registered 19 points on seven goals and 12 assists.

While Dudek, who has recorded two goals this season, still wants to contribute offensively, he has tried to embrace the smaller and different responsibilities he has been given this year.

“I was the leading goal-scorer returning for my junior year and it was good to help the team that way by putting the puck in the net,” Dudek said. “I think I still can provide that as a fourth-line guy. I can participate in scoring but I’ve definitely found my responsibility in the defensive zone, talking on the bench and keeping guys in it.”

Dudek and the Eagles (6-9-2, 6-1-2 Hockey East) will visit the University of New Hampshire (6-7-6, 2-4-3 Hockey East) Saturday at 7 p.m. after hosting No. 7 Providence College (12-4-4, 6-2-1 Hockey East) Friday night.

Boston College and the Wildcats skated to a 2-2 tie Nov. 16 at Conte Forum.

Dudek, who played two seasons at Pinkerton Academy of Derry before transferring to Kimball Union Academy of Meriden, said he has seen big improvement in his defensive play this season.

“I think my defensive game has gotten much better,” Dudek said. “I’m learning (the) defensive zone a lot more, different things to read and react to and with that my small game has come a long way….The small, detailed stuff that if you know the game and you’re watching, it’s something that can start a play and help the whole entire shift.

“It doesn’t always show up on the score sheet but I’m always trying to provide for my team.”

Dudek has skated alongside sophomore Chris Grando and either junior Ron Greco or freshman Marc McLaughlin most of the season.

“The best thing that makes it easy to play with those guys is I’m telling them what I want and they’re telling me what they want and they like,” Dudek said.

As one of Boston College’s five seniors, Dudek has used his high-energy mentality to help keep his teammates’ confidence up.

“Just because I’m not a captain doesn’t mean I don’t have a say or a voice,” Dudek said. “I think I’ve helped the team a lot with keeping guys’ spirits up.”

On the ice, Dudek said he thinks the team expects him to bring a hard, heavy game and produce offensively. Dudek tallied the game’s first goal in the Eagles’ 5-2 loss at No. 13 Arizona State last Friday, ending an 11-game scoring drought. Dudek acknowledged he has struggled to score this year, something he takes full responsibility for.

“The class that first came in when I was a sophomore saw me score goals and I want to get back to that,” Dudek said.

The Eagles went 0-3 last week, losing at No. 9 Notre Dame and at Arizona State twice but Dudek said the team played some of its best hockey during the stretch. Boston College scored two goals over those three games. Everything came together during the road trip except the goal scoring, Dudek said.

As the Eagles prepare for UNH, Dudek said the Wildcats are great in transition so he and his teammates need to minimize their turnovers Saturday.

“UNH, I think we owe them a lot,” Dudek said. “I don’t think we’re happy with our tie with them earlier in the season.”

ahall@unionleader.com