At the end of the regular season, there are a few things that
can be expected from the Michigan hockey team. The Wolverines are
usually near the top of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association
standings, and at least one player is ranked among the league
leaders in points or goals scored.

Mira Levitan
T.J. Hensick led the CCHA in assists this season. (TONY DING/Daily)

The program also has another accomplishment almost annually that
shouldn’t be overlooked: Placing a few freshmen on the CCHA
All-Rookie team.

The CCHA announced its All-Rookie team on Monday, and this time
around two Wolverines made the cut — defenseman Matt Hunwick
and center T.J. Hensick. The pair is joined by Miami forwards Matt
Christie and Marty Guerin, and Michigan State’s defenseman
A.J. Thelen and goaltender Dominic Vicari.

This marks the seventh-straight season that a Michigan freshman
has been named to the team. It is also the third season in a row
that more than one Michigan player has been selected.

“It is an honor to be considered one of the top rookies in
this league,” Hensick said. “There are some good
rookies out there that did not make the team, and it is kind of
nice to get that recognition.”

Hensick, who leads the Wolverines in points, is an obvious
choice for the All-Rookie team. Fans are entertained week-in and
week-out by his arsenal of offensive moves.

His most memorable play came in Michigan’s 7-0 drubbing of
Western Michigan on Jan. 30. Hensick collected the puck just
outside Michigan’s blueline and then proceeded to easily blow
by both Bronco defenders. He finished the play off with a quick
move on Western Michigan goalie Scott Foster to score the goal.

“T.J.’s very creative,” associate head coach
Mel Pearson said. “(One thing) that you notice with him is
his individual skill package — his skating (and)
shooting.”

But what is unique about Hensick is that, although he is endowed
with a wealth of goal-scoring ability, the Howell native is even
better at helping his teammates find the back of the net. He is
currently tied for the CCHA lead in total assists, with 30, and is
also fourth in the nation in assists per game with a .83 average.

“For me, I’m definitely thinking assist
first,” Hensick said. “I’m a point-maker who can
score goals when needed.”

Hunwick, who plays alongside senior captain Andy Burnes on
Michigan’s top defensive pairing, has been a starter since
day one. After experiencing a short down-period in the middle of
the season — a time when Michigan coach Red Berenson says
fellow freshman Jason Dest jumped ahead of Hunwick — the
Roseville native returned to form. Hunwick is currently tied with
Burnes for the team lead in the plus-minus category with a
plus-13.

Hunwick’s solid play early in the year provided him with a
unique experience in December. Hunwick, along with goaltender Al
Montoya, participated on the United States Junior National team
that beat Canada 4-3 for the gold medal in Helsinki, Finland.

Berenson feels that because Hunwick is not necessarily an
offensive defensman, the coaches might miss his stellar play, as
they select the All-Rookie team. But the coach notes that even if
coaches only look at statistics, Hunwick’s plus/minus is best
on the team, and plays an important role on the team.

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