The high-scoring winger is the 34th player with ties to the club to make a D-I commit in the past eight years.
Ty Henricks loves to shoot the puck, and it shows.
Not only does the powerful winger lead the USA Hockey Youth Nationals-bound Jr. Ducks 16U AAA team with 65 goals in 57 games, it’s how the puck travels to the net.
“He shoots it so hard you don’t see it sometimes,” 16U coach Alex Kim said. “It’s just a blur.”
Kim, who doubles as the Jr. Ducks’ director of player development, confirmed that the 6-foot-4 Henricks has been clocked blasting the biscuit as fast as 105 mph. To put that into context, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman won the NHL’s hardest shot competition at last month’s All-Star Weekend with a clocking of 103.4 mph.
“Shooting always has been my favorite thing – on the ice, off the ice,” said Henricks, who says he spend on average 60 to 90 minutes per day pounding pucks.
The 2005 birth year recently announced he’s committed to NCHC power Western Michigan, making him the 34th player with ties to the Jr. Ducks to make an NCAA Division I commitment in the past eight years.
The booming shot and resulting gaudy goal-scoring numbers are reasons why Henricks landed on D-I programs’ radar, but they’re not the only ones.
“Ty’s game has matured a lot,” Kim said. “You can see his development and maturity in how he prepares, how he trains. He has an NHL-caliber shot, but he’s committed to back checking and team play. He’s an excellent teammate.”
Henricks took an interesting path back to the Jr. Ducks this season. He began playing with the club and training with Kim early in grade school. “Even when he was a little kid he had a good shot,” Kim recalled.
His family moved to Minnesota when he was 11, in part to seek out additional hockey opportunities. Ty enjoyed some success and eventually landed at prep school powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Kim reconnected with his family at Nationals last season and at one point jokingly texted Henricks’ father about Ty playing for the Jr. Ducks again. Little did the coach know that two members of his team, forward Christian Kim and goaltender Miles Roberts, were steps ahead of him in the “re-recruiting” process of their friend.
“I hadn’t talked to Alex in a while, but a few players from the team reached out and said, ‘We’re going to be good next season, you should come play with us’,” Henricks recalled. “It’s worked out great.”
Henricks said the combination of playing for Alex Kim and attending Optimum Hockey Academy has transformed his game.
“Alex is a great coach, and he’s taught me a lot of things,” Henricks said. “I wouldn’t be doing some of the things I’m doing now without him. And Optimum has provided more of an environment to improve everything – my shot, my skating, my stickhandling. I’m on the ice more.
“All of the Jr. Ducks coaches and Optimum staff have helped me.”
As Henricks sorted through college offers and made several visits, he kept coming back to the style he enjoys playing – fast and physical. Opportunity knocked particularly loudly during a weekend visit to Kalamazoo, Mich.
“I kept an open mind throughout the process of all of the visits,” Henricks said. “I really liked Western Michigan’s campus. The way they play the game, that’s what sold it for me. They’re all about playing hard hockey, and so am I.”
Next up for Henricks and the Jr. Ducks are Nationals at Rochester, Mich., from March 31-April 3. It’s a challenge he and his teammates relish.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “Everyone on our team has been improving and gone to the next level. We’re going to be ready.”
After that, Henricks plans to head to Fargo, N.D., to practice with and possibly play for the Force, who holds his United States Hockey League rights.
“I’m very proud of him,” Kim said. “He’s worked hard and matured over the course of the season.
“If he keeps this up his ceiling is limitless.”