St. Cloud, MN- For an aspiring NHLer, the road to the “bigs” can be an arduous one. For former SCSU All-American defenseman, Nick Jensen, who played 119 games over three seasons it took exactly 225 minor league games. And then, for one of the final cuts out of Red Wings training camp, it nearly didn’t happen. Jensen was called up to the Red Wings after an undisclosed injury to defenseman Mike Green. To compound things, another Red Wings defenseman, Brian Lashoff took a puck to the mouth during a team skate the morning of 12/20 to put the planets in perfect alignment for Jensen. Ready to be inserted into the lineup for the game with the Carolina Hurricanes on December 20th, the cooling system at PNC Arena malfunctioned causing the game to be postponed.
Jensen pretty much took it in stride as he told the Detroit News “I’m putting on my gear and we find out we’re going to be delayed. We figured it would be 20 minutes and we end up waiting around for two hours. (There’s) nothing you can do. You roll with the punches. I’ll laugh about it one day. I’ll always remember that one.”
Jensen, who accumulated 15 goals and 71 assists in three seasons for the Huskies, skated in 27 games for the Red Wings AHL affiliate, Grand Rapids Griffins this season and had a goal and five assists for six points. Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, a former Ferris State goaltender showed no lack of confidence in Jensen in an interview with the Detroit News. “Nick’s a big time competitor and an excellent skater. He uses his skating as a defensive weapon. Not that he can’t join the play, but it’s a defensive weapon. He skates you out of the zone well and he competes extremely hard.”
Jensen’s debut finally occurred a day later on the road vs the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 21. He certainly made the best of it getting ample ice time and adding an assist late in the third period after joining the play on a speedy rush up ice. Jensen took a feed from Henrik Zetterberg and placed a bad angle shot on the Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevsky that nearly beat him. Anthony Mantha mopped up the puck that was lying in the crease area for the Red Wings only goal in a 4-1 loss. Jensen finished the contest 0-1-1 with 2 shots on goal and 15:33 of ice time.
Blashill liked the effort by Jensen telling the Detroit News “He has a lot of guts and wants to go out and make things happen. Nick played real well.”
Let’s hope this is the start of another journey for Jensen.
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Detroit News: Postponed Game puts Nick Jensens NHL Debut on Ice
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