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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Michigan All-America Forward T.J. Hensick

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, November 22 at 2:00 p.m. ET, Michigan forward T.J. Hensick pays a visit to "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. Hensick was a Hobey Baker Award Finalist and West First Team All-American in 2004-05.

T.J. Hensick

Junior forward T.J. Hensick has picked up where he left off after a dream sophomore season. The defending CCHA scoring champ has 19 points in 11 games entering weekend play.

Hensick was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, was all-CCHA first team and a West First Team All-America in 2004-05. Nationally, Hensick finished sixth in points. He was second on the Wolverines in goals, assists and points and tied for first in power-play points and shared the Hal Downes Trophy with Jeff Tambellini as U-M's Most Valuable Player.

A native of Howell, Michigan, Hensick was drafted in the third round (No. 88 overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: T.J. won't be stopping by until 2:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, November 22th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Welcome back to "Tuesday @ The Rink". We are now joined by Michigan All-America forward T.J. Hensick.
T.J. Hensick: It is great to be here. I am ready to take your questions.

Kevin (Ohio): Hey T.J., congrats on the year you and your teammates are having. I know how people always talk about how tough it is to play at Yost Ice Arena or this arena, but what CCHA arena besides Yost gets you really fired up to play in or which one offers the most unique playing experience for you?
T.J. Hensick: Well, I think if you're going by the atmosphere, we love playing at Western Michigan because its a tough, unique and special place to play. It's always a good game and hostile environment. Also, I think most of the guys on the team including myself would say that playing at Munn against MSU is always a great experience because the rivarly between the two teams.

Matt Bielawa (Troy, MI): TJ, Great start to this year's season. When you're going into a tough series like this weekend's against Wisconsin and Minnesota, does it help to have a week off before it, or would you rather have played the week before to keep a rhythm going? Good luck against the Badgers and Gophers this week!
T.J. Hensick: Well, I think it can go both ways. I think a week for our team did us some good in the area of injuries. We were able to recover from them and get back to full strength. Also, with a week off we are able to prepare more for our upcoming games and, with Minnesota and Wisconsin coming to town, the more preparation we can get the better it is for us. However, on the other hand you might get a little rusty with a week off from games. You might slip into a comfort zone that you don't want to be in because you are just practcing for two straight weeks. However, I think our team, with the excitement and emotion surrounding this weekend, should be able to get fired up for these two games no matter if we did or didn't have a week off.

Matt (Washington, DC): TJ, How fortunate is the team this year to have such big contributions this early in the season from the freshman?
T.J. Hensick: It's huge to see so many freshmen contributing for this team. It was definitely a question at the beginning of the year, but as you can see they are replacing guys like Montoya, Tambellini and Nystrom quite well. Hopefully, their success can continue. The freshmen are a big part of this team and will be a big part of this team for the rest of the season. If they continue to play as well as they have, that can only mean good things for our team.

Dwayne (New Berlin): You face the top two teams in the WCHA this weekend, in Wisconsin and Minnesota. What challenges to both of these teams present to the Wolverines?
T.J. Hensick: Well, they both present us with two difficult tasks. Both teams are highly skilled and can complement their skill with hard work. We're going to have to match their hard work and score on our scoring chances if we want to have a shot at winning. It's going to come down to how hard and effective we are on the defensive side of things. If we can shut Minnesota and Wisconsin's top guys down, then we should be able to frustrate their team. Minnesota plays physical, strong and a fast brand of hockey we must be ready from the drop of the puck. Wisconsin, who is playing real well right now, is full of confidence and excitement. We must be ready to play well in our own zone against top players like Earl and Pavleski. It should be an exciting weekend of hockey.

Craig - Manistee, MI.: Hi T.J. When you are introduced at Yost as a starter, you always skate really slowly out to center ice. Any reason? Good luck and Go Blue!
T.J. Hensick: I think its more superstition than anything. I think because I have always skated slow to center ice, I just continued to do that. No reason in particular why I do, I just do it. I guess because I don't like to change what has worked for me since I have been here.

Jack (Littleton, CO): I read that you are a Red Wings fan. What do you think about being drafted by the Colorado Avalanche?
T.J. Hensick: Well, obviously I was just excited about being drafted. But then I thought about the big rivarly between the two teams and started thinking how different it will be for me, now that I am a Colorado draft pick, to cheer for the Red Wings. I have always been a Wings fan and always will be. However, I guess I will have to root against them when the play the Wings. Hopefully, someday I will get a chance to play in game where Colorado and Detroit play one another.

Speedbag Supreme (Ontario): T.J., do you ever regret not playing major junior?
T.J. Hensick: At moments, I wonder what it would have been like to play major junior but never do I regret my decision to play for the Wolverines because I have enjoyed every minute of time here in Ann Arbor. Major junior couldn't give me an education like Michigan. I don't see anyone being as well rounded about the game of hockey like Red Berenson in Major Juniors. Those are two reasons I feel I have made the right choice on coming to college. I respect the CHL and understand that it's better for some players than others, but I just love college hockey and the traditions that go along with it, especially here at Michigan.

Ben (Troy, MI):: What do you think of the cluster system in the CCHA and what if any affect does it have on teams in years where one cluster is more difficult than others?
T.J. Hensick: I think they are a good idea in one way because they can keep rivarlies together like us and Michigan State. It's fun to play them four times a year rather than two. Sure, some teams might have an advantage of being in a weaker cluster on paper, but in the CCHA anyone can beat anyone on any given night, which has been quite evident this year. I think it's good in the aspect of travel because it prevents teams from going to Alaska, Northern or wherever two years in a row.

James (Ann Arbor): I've noticed you've been logging some significant minutes on the penalty kill this year (even working a couple 5-on-3's against Notre Dame and MSU a few weeks ago). This is a bit of a new role for you, and one that surprised a lot of fans who had labeled you a purely offensive player. Have you enjoyed this different kind of assignment?
T.J. Hensick: I am enjoying it a lot. It has made me realize different things about my game and what it takes to be a two way forward. I know that if I want to keep playing this game down the road, I need to be able to do other things than just score. Now, I just need to take advantage of the oppurtunity Coach has given me. It's tough to kill penalties and play down low in your own zone against the other team's best players, but in the long run it can only make me a better a player.

Matt (Ann Arbor): Hi T.J. Though playing very well, the Michigan team is very young this year. What have the upperclassmen done to help the many freshmen play with confidence and fit in well with the team.
T.J. Hensick: Well, you're right. There a lot of freshmen and at the beginning of the year it was almost like we had two teams - the freshmen and the upperclassmen. I think the upperclassmen have made the freshmen feel at home and mistake-free and worry-free by being there for them when things go well for them, especially when things go bad for them. I think the amount of time we spend together off the ice has helped this team gel as much as it has. They are a big part of this team and we must embrace them fully and let them be a part of the team. The upperclassmen, in my eyes, have been great to the younger guys. We are a tight group of guys and it has only been a couple of months.

John, Holt Mi.: Hey, T.J. The hockey team is making me very proud to be a Michigan fan so thanks for that. Anyway; What do you think are the biggest reasons for the team's early success, knowing that there are alot of new talented players here. Here's hoping for a 2-0 weekend. Thanks T.J. GOBLUE!
T.J. Hensick: Well, the success comes from different areas, in my mind. I think the coaches have done a good job in putting the right players with each other on the ice. They have found ways for this team to gel together that I don't think other coaching staffs could. I think the leadership of this team, especially the upperclassmen, have had a huge role in the outcome of the season thus far. Also, I think we have been able to work harder than the other teams on every given night. With the skill of this team and the work ethic of this team, we can be dangerous if we just come to work for 60 minutes, which we have done thus far. But it must continue if we want to keep winning.

George (Livonia, MI): With nearly a third of the season done, do you feel there is more pressure on this team going into the Showcase as number one, than last year's team at this point? Thank you.
T.J. Hensick: I think there is pressure on this team to succeed no matter where we are in the rankings. I think this is a big test for us this weekend to see were we stand against the country's best teams. The pressure comes within our locker room - we feel this weekend is a big weekend for us. It can determine a lot for where this team is headed.

Tom (Macomb, MI.): Do you get a chance to talk to other former Michigan stars and do they have any advice for you...and do you plan on blessing us Michigan fans with your senior year...Like Brendan Morrison etc..
T.J. Hensick: I talk to some former players, mostly recent guys, and they have been great in giving advice to myself and our team. I have talked to guys like Morrison and Comrie briefly to see how things have changed for them once they left Michigan, whether it was Morrison after his senior year or Comrie after his sophomore. On whether or not I will be back next year, I love playing hockey here at Michigan and feel that if I were to leave early I might regret it later on in my life, but for now I just want to focus on this weekend and playing well against Minnesota on Friday night.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with T.J. this afternoon.
T.J. Hensick: Thanks a lot for giving me the time to talk to everyone. I appreciate the support from all the Michigan fans. I got to run to practice. Thanks again. GO BLUE!
CSTV.com Moderator: Thanks for joining us for "Tuesday @ The Rink". We'll be back with another doubleheader next Tuesday at 1:00 Eastern. One of our guests will be Denver Head Coach George Gwozedecky. Check back to find out who our second guest is. See you next week.

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