AUBURN — After half a dozen games into the season, first-year Edward Little boys’ hockey coach Brett Barrett found that he had to make an adjustment. Not necessarily because his new Red Eddies team was 1-5, but out of necessity.

The Red Eddies were thin in their defensive corps. So in came backup, in the form of senior forward Cody Woodward backing up to the blue line.

It’s been a match made in heaven ever since. EL won its next three games before a loss to Biddeford on Saturday, and Woodward — one of the team’s leading scorers last season — has seen his point production skyrocket.

“I knew he was an option from the get-go, and then (Aaron Kane) gets hurt — he’s been out for a week and a half with a concussion — and Cam (Audette) was sick this weekend,” Barrett said. “I wasn’t expecting to leave him there, per se, but he’s probably our best defenseman now, so it’s hard to take that away.”

“The first game, I would say I was a little nervous, but then after that it’s been good,” Woodward said. “I’ll do anything to help the team out.”

Barrett made the switch for good in a 4-1 win over Thornton Academy nearly two weeks ago. It was an adjustment for Woodward initially, despite playing on the blue line a few times earlier in his high-school career.


“It was a little different. I wanted to get up and go in the zone, but oh, well. You got to sit back and do what you got to do,” Woodward said. “If you get beat, you have to get back as fast as possible. You’re the last guy. But you can see the ice a lot different back there, pick off passes.

“I think I can see the ice more back there. I can control more, not running around as much.”

Barrett said at times a team’s best players have to play defense. Woodward has certainly proven to be one of the Red Eddies’ best. And that trickles down the roster.

“I think it teaches them a little bit of responsibility, and that you have to know how to play everywhere on the ice,” Barrett said. “If you’re pigeonholed into a one-position player, that can definitely hurt you in the long run.”

Woodward moving away from his former forward position hasn’t hurt his offensive production. He didn’t remember getting any points at forward this season, but has caught fire since moving to defense.

“It’s a little difficult at times, but they still try to find me the puck as much as possible,” Woodward said.


“We use him all the time offensively on the power play. We like him shooting the puck,” Barrett said. “He’s probably the most accurate shooter on the team, makes good decisions when he does that. He’s one of the few guys that can control the puck. If you ask him to shoot it low, he typically can.”

What has made Woodward’s transition go so well — for the individual and the team — is his ability to handle the puck. That helps the Red Eddies start their attack from the back, and minimizes turnovers from the back end.

“Most kids, I’ve found over the years, that if you have very good skaters that are composed with the puck, you stick them on defense and after a while they really embrace it,” Barrett said. “You can play every other shift if you want. You don’t play every third or fourth shift.

“You play a lot more, and you get just as many chances, really.”

More Woodward has equaled more success for EL so far, a trend both Barrett and his newest blue-liner hope keeps going in that direction.

They don’t want to change it back, and neither — it seems — does Woodward.


“It’s been pretty good. I think I like D better than offense now,” Woodward said. “It’s a little different, but it’s good to play D sometimes.”

He might just get his wish.

“It might be a permanent thing,” Barrett said. “Just don’t know yet.”

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