December 7, 2010 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Hennig Finds His Groove

by Timothy O'Donnell/CHN Reporter

 (photo: Rachel Lewis)

(photo: Rachel Lewis)

Nate Hennig highlights

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For the first time since he arrived in Big Rapids, Mich., Nate Hennig is scoring. After putting up 50 points in two seasons with the Santa Fe Roadrunners (now the Topeka Roadrunners), Hennig had just eight points through three years at Ferris State. But things have changed this season. Through 12 games played Hennig has seven points and has doubled his career goal total with four on the year.

“(Over the summer), every day I was in the gym or on the ice working,” Hennig said.

And that work is paying dividends early, and Hennig gives credit to the Bulldogs strength and conditioning coach Dave Cencer.

“When I first came to Ferris State, I was a little out of shape, a little overweight and a little uneducated,” Hennig said. “I didn’t really know what it took off the ice to compete on the ice.”

Cencer has taught Hennig through the years, showing him how to keep himself in shape, not just by going to the gym but by eating right and doing the right exercises.

“A lot of it was plyometric exercises in the gym,” Hennig said. “ As for nutrition, it was just about calorie intake, protein, and carbs.”

And Hennig put that knowledge to work over the summer, looking to be in better shape for the season.

“We worked on a lot of cardio, and plyometric workouts,” Hennig said.

The whole goal was to improve Hennig’s conditioning, which included the typical lifting weights.

“Instead of just lifting weights, you lift weights in circuits and for time,” Hennig said. “So you’re going quicker and you have to keep your heart rate up, which ultimately increases endurance.”

And FSU head coach Bob Daniels has noticed.

“He’s in very good shape,” Daniels said. “He’s worked hard at (improving his conditioning).

“He drastically reduced his fat percentage and improved his overall conditioning.”

Even being in better shape and playing his last season for the Bulldogs, Hennig does not have any goals he wants to meet, points wise.

“As long as we keep doing well and I can be a part of that puzzle, I’d be happy with that, regardless of what my points are,” Hennig said.

“I’d like to keep the ratio going. I feel like I’m putting up good number in the amount of games I’ve played.”

Hennig missed three games early in the season with a shoulder injury.

Along with being in great shape, Hennig is also taking advantage of the opportunity to play.

“Last year, when he was in better shape, he was waiting in the wings behind players,” Daniels said. “And was cast in a role where you don’t see the ice time.”

With the opportunity to play comes the opportunity to score and produce for the team. And Hennig has had those opportunities. With Zach Redmond, the Bulldogs' leading scorer out, Daniels is glad that someone like Hennig is there to pick up the slack.

“We’re a team that somewhat challenged in scoring goals and with Zach Redmond out with a broken foot, it’s been really important that someone like Nate step up and contribute,” Daniels said.

And Hennig’s physical style of play blends perfectly with his linemates, Aaron Schmit and Kyle Bonis.

“We all kind of have the same style of play,” Hennig said. ‘Each of us specializing in certain aspect of the game.”

And Daniels likes the way they play together.

“All three of them are good size and they play a grinding style,” Daniels.

“They’re big, strong and hard to take the puck away from them.”

Hennig’s one goal this season is to help the Bulldogs be better than they were last year. And he is well on his way to accomplishing that goal.

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