Michi-gamer: The Pride of the Mitten (Week of Nov. 5)

Welcome to another season of MiHockey’s Michi-gamer, now powered by Bauer Hockey.

We take great pride in our homegrown talent. Whether they grew up in the Mitten or we welcomed them here for college or juniors, they are our own. They represent the best place in the world for hockey.

Every night, we’ll keep an eye on those players, and every morning, we will pick one Michi-gamer of the night – one Michigan player who stood out above the rest.


The Peoria Rivermen may have lost their AHL contest against the Charlotte Checkers last night, but it certainly wasn’t because of T.J. Hensick. The Howell native had three assists on the night, which means he factored into 75 percent of his team’s scoring in a 5-4 overtime loss. Hensick, former star of the Michigan Wolverines, had two assists in the middle period, which actually put Peoria in the lead for a bit. Then, he helped set up the game-tying goal in the third to force overtime. One of Hensick’s assists was on a goal by Ann Arbor native Ian Cole, as well. Hensick now has two goals and six assists for eight points in 10 games this season. Last year, he had 70 points in 66 games with Peoria.

More MiHockey articles on Hensick:

Michi-gamer: The Pride of the Mitten (Week of Oct. 15)


After a Wednesday afternoon matinee game at Van Andel Arena, Marysville native Chad Billins has earned our nod for Michi-gamer. The former Ferris State Bulldogs captain tallied three assists on the back end for the Grand Rapids Griffins in a 4-2 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals (farm team to the Nashville Predators). What’s somewhat unique is the situations in which Billins recorded the three helpers; one came while shorthanded, one came at even strength, and one came while on the power play, where he assisted on Joakim Andersson’s game-winner. Billins – an AHL rookie – is now tied for fourth in league scoring, with 11 assists in 11 games donning the Griffins sweater.

More MiHockey articles on Billins:

Michi-gamer: The Pride of the Mitten (Week of Oct. 8th)

Grand Rapids Griffins come to Yost, win 4-2

Pick your favorite MiHockey custom EA Sports NHL ’13 cover

Griffins sign Chad Billins to one-year deal


Monroe native Matt Mahalak had himself a pretty good Tuesday afternoon in Plymouth, recording his eighth win on the season against in-state OHL rival Saginaw Spirit. The Whalers defeated the Spirit 4-1, and Mahalak stopped 36 of 37 shots en route to the victory. Coming off a rough outing at home against Sarnia in which he allowed four goals on 16 shots, this was just the type of bounce-back performance the doctor ordered. Mahalak, in his third season with Plymouth, was a sixth-round draft choice (163rd overall) by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

More MiHockey articles on Mahalak:

MiHockey previews: Plymouth Whalers return with a loaded roster



With limited games to pick from, we went back to the weekend to take a second look at how our Michigan natives did. It wasn’t hard to find another Michi-gamer, either. Chesterfield native Matt DeBlouw had such a big night that he has taken over the scoring lead for the Spartans as a freshman. DeBlouw, a Calgary Flames draft pick and Muskegon Lumberjacks alum, had two goals and two assists on Saturday night, leading MSU to a 6-1 win over Bowling Green on the road. The product of the Belle Tire and Little Caesars programs now has three goals and four assists for seven points in eight games. The Spartans are hoping for big things out of DeBlouw, and if his start to the season is any indication, he’s on the right track.

More MiHockey articles on DeBlouw:

Roster overhaul means a “baptism by fire” for Spartans

NHL Draft: Worth the wait for Matt DeBlouw

MiHockey’s 2012 NHL Draft Watch


Longtime Plymouth Whalers netminder Jeremy Smith had himself quite a Saturday night. The Dearborn native and Nashville Predators prospect stopped all 34 shots he faced on the night, blanking the Peoria Rivermen. It was the first shutout of the year for Smith, and his first win as well. Last year, Smith posted a 31-19-3-2 record with a .922 save percentage and 2.17 goals-against average. Smith was a second-round pick of the Predators (54th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft. He played in parts of four seasons with the Whalers, and also played 26 games with the Niagara IceDogs in 2008-09. Since then, he’s been improving his game at the ECHL and AHL level, playing for the Predators’ AHL affiliate exclusively since 2011.


To see last week’s Michi-gamer winners, click here.