Hensick Building Off Past Success
November 23, 2011
By Ben Bean
T.J. Hensick put together a sensational season with the Rivermen a year ago. His 69 points led the team and he earned his third AHL all-star appearance in four seasons. This year he is not just the top playmaker for Peoria, he has set the bar for the entire league.
“Individually I just compete anyway I can,” said Hensick. “I try to be the best player I can be in this league and help the team win on a consistent basis.”
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, Hensick had put up more points and more assists than anyone else in the league. He had at least one point in 16 of the team’s first 19 games and he has helped his linemate Brett Sterling get to the top of the goal-scoring list.
A product of the United States Development Program, Hensick attended college at the University of Michigan. He accumulated 222 points in just 164 games with the Wolverines, all while playing under St. Louis Blues legend Red Berenson.
“It was fun. It was the best four years of hockey I ever had,” stated Hensick. “It was fun playing in front of the school. Getting my degree (psychology) was huge. Red Berenson being the coach was pretty unique. The experience was awesome.”
During the 2007-08 season, Hensick made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche. Hensick was able to score his first goal in only his second NHL game.
“It was in LA, against LaBarbera. Tyler Arnason, who’s in Texas now, gave me the pass that led to a breakaway,” explained Hensick. “I went glove side. It was pretty special. I got a lot of text messages and phone calls after the game. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.”
He finished his rookie year with 31 NHL games to his credit and stayed up with the Avalanche for 61 of his 73 games in 2008-09. But when numbers forced him back down to the American League for most of the next two seasons he earned himself a pair of trips to the AHL All-Star Classic.
“Once you get there you realize how special it is,” said Hensick. “Last year in Hershey, playing in front of over 10,000 fans, was exciting. You get to be around guys you don’t get to see all the time. Being able to relax and have no pressure on you when you go out is pretty nice.”
As impressive as the above things are, Hensick feels there is much more to be accomplished. For starters, build off of last year’s success.
“I hadn’t been in the playoffs for the American League before. That was a step in the right direction,” said Hensick. “Coming in this year we need to obviously build off that, make the playoffs again, and win the first round. We’ll see what happens after that.
“We’ve played pretty good hockey lately. I think we are going in the right direction,” said Hensick. “If we can cut back on our goals against, we should be there in the thick of things by the end of the year.”
The team can certainly afford to focus on their goals-against because with Hensick leading the offense, Peoria’s goal-scoring shouldn’t be a problem.