If sophomore T.J. Hensick was a basketball player, he’d
definitely run the point. The Michigan center’s vision on the
ice and knack for being able to thread a pass between defenders to
a winger mirrors the play of a stellar point guard, who penetrates
through would-be shot blockers and finally dishes to an open
teammate at the last possible second.

“When he gets the puck, he’s always looking to set
someone else up,” junior Brandon Kaleniecki said. “He
obviously has the ability to score, as well, but he’s a
playmaker — that’s just what he does.”

Recently, Michigan coach Red Berenson reorganized the
team’s lines, aligning Hensick with Kaleniecki on his left
and freshman speedster Chad Kolarik on his right.

“I played on a line with him most of last year,”
Kaleniecki said. “It’s exciting to play with him
because he creates so many opportunities for you, and it works out
because I’m more of a shooter.”

Exciting is right. Last year Hensick led the Wolverines with 34
assists while Kaleniecki scored a team-high 20 goals.

On Saturday, Berenson’s line adjustments paid off —
the new trio combined to score Michigan’s first two goals en
route to its 5-2 win over Lake Superior State.

Hensick broke a scoreless tie in the first period when he took a
pass from Kolarik and skated into the Lakers’ zone with a
one-on-two disadvantage. The expert passer found himself in
unfamiliar territory with no one to pass to, so he took a rare trip
down the ice by himself and headed to the net. He zigged to the
left of the two defenders and zagged to the right of the goalie
before he deposited the puck between the post and the
goalie’s blocker.

“It was a good play by Kolarik to get me the puck,”
Hensick said. “From there, I just used my speed to beat the
guy wide.”

The line’s second goal came on a more typical Hensick
play. Kaleniecki passed to Hensick behind the net — where he
can be so dangerous — and the sophomore skated to the slot
where he attempted a shot. The goalie blocked his initial attempt,
but Kolarik, who was stationed in front of the net, gathered the
puck and scored.

Later in the game, Hensick notched his seventh assist and ninth
point — both of which are team highs for the season.

“Most guys like to score the goals,” Hensick said.
“But I like to make the passes. I was the same way growing
up. If we score, I’d rather have the assist than the
goal.

“My teammates work hard to get open and I like to take
advantage of that. I don’t want them to come all the way down
the ice and feel bad when they don’t get a chance to
score.”

Hensick has scored in each of Michigan’s six games this
season, but he’s been playing his best of late.

“I think I’m taking steps in the right
direction,” Hensick said. “I don’t think
I’ve played up to my potential yet this season, but I’m
definitely getting there.”

Though Hensick plays with a pass-first mentality, if left alone,
he’s shown he can definitely drain the three and move the
net.

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