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Rookie forward AJ Jenks is the first player this season in

“Breaking the Ice with…” The feature will continue again this season on www.plymouthwhalers.com and showcases different players so we can get to know the Whalers better.

Selected in the 7th round (132nd overall) in the 2006 OHL Draft by Plymouth, Jenks is still just 16 years old. He didn't waste any time notching his first OHL points, tallying an assist in his debut September 22nd at Sarnia and scoring his first goal September 27th at Saginaw. The Wolverine Lake, Michigan, native took a few minutes after practice to help us break the ice and chat about being a hometown boy, choosing the OHL, and playing roller hockey.

» On the best advice he has been given…

“Work your hardest and never look back on what you’ve done. Never be satisfied.”

» On how he started playing hockey…

“When I was 7 or 8, I started playing a lot in the street with friends. I just wanted to start playing so I picked up roller hockey when I was about 9 and then I tried to play ice hockey when I was about 10 and picked it up from there.”

» On the differences between roller and ice hockey…

“In roller hockey, there are four players on the floor and there are no open ice body checks. It’s a lot more open because there is no offsides or icing. It’s just like ice hockey except it is not as fast and it’s more spread out and involves more skill.”

» On the championships he has won…

“I’ve won 2 national championships playing roller hockey, but nothing too big in ice hockey.”

» On his youth hockey highlight…

“I’ve always been on a team that went far, but then lost so I don’t know about a most memorable game. My hockey highlight would be playing in my first OHL regular season game.”

» On being a hometown player and having his own cheering section the first game…

“I tried to ignore it (the cheers from Section 116 when he was announced during the home opener) and not let it get to my head, but it was still exciting and such a rush. It's cool to be the hometown boy. I’m still kind of living at home since I’m living with my grandma now. I like it. It hasn’t been that big of a change, so it has all been good so far. I mean, she’s fun, well, for a grandma.”

» On growing up playing for Compuware…

“It’s pretty cool that I played in the Compuware system and now I play for the Whalers. I see a lot of the kids in their Compuware stuff around the rink and realize that I was just like them not too long ago. As far as players in the OHL, I played with Patrick Moran on Compuware, and he is now with Guelph. I kind of grew up watching the Whalers, I saw them for a few years, so it is pretty cool to now be playing for them.

» On who has influenced him in hockey…

“Probably my mom and step-dad. They both just pushed me through it and let me play.”

» On picking major junior over the U.S. NTDP and the University of Michigan…

“It’s just what I wanted to do. It fits my style of play better and it’s where I wanted to be.”

» On playing at the Select 16s…

“It was alright except they didn’t let us know they were changing the rules until we got to the camp. The first game there were 40 some penalties. It was just ridiculous. There was no flow to the game. There were just way too many calls, but it was still a lot of fun.”

» On if he has ever played with any of the guys on the team before…

“I played against (Chris) Terry in the OHL Cup during his draft year. It was the year before mine, I played up with the Compuware 89s.”

» On the rookie adjustments he envisions…

“It’s a lot faster game and guys are a lot stronger. It’s just getting used to the pace and everybody being as big and as strong as you are, if not stronger.”

» On being named #1 Star of the Game and his most embarrassing hockey moment…

“I didn’t expect to be the #1 Star. I thought I played well, but was surprised I was first star. I didn’t really know what to do after the game since I’m a rookie. They have the Blue Collar player and the stars sign a shirt and skate out to acknowledge the crowd and toss the shirt to a fan. Natalie (Shaver) didn't tell me exactly what I was supposed to do. She just said I was the #1 Star, follow what (Dan) Collins did since he was the third star, and I would be the last one to go. It was loud and I couldn't hear, so I ended up going out early when they actually called Collins’ name. That was pretty embarrassing because people probably thought I was an idiot. It was cool though that they thought I played well and I was a star of the game.”

» On the Nike Bauer camp this summer…

“Over the summer I got to go with my agent, Bryan Deasley, and a couple of his other clients to the Toronto SkyDome and we ran a camp for young hockey players and other athletes. It was like an off-ice camp and I got to meet a lot of pros and other guys around the league. It was just a good experience. I met guys like Chad Kilger and Eric Lindros and Russian Alexei Ponikarovsky, who plays for the Leafs. The camp was sponsored by Nike Bauer, so we got all kinds of free Nike stuff and got paid $1000 in Nike apparel at the Nike store in Toronto. I met (John) Tavares there. I went to his house for a couple hours and we had dinner there and met his family and stuff.”

» On the player he tries to model his game after…

“Joe Thornton. I just like the way he plays. He’s a good power forward. He puts up a lot of numbers and he played in the ‘O.’”

» On the toughest player he has played against…

“I’d say (Evan) Brophey in main camp. He was hard to play against.”

» On if there is anything behind his jersey number 22…

“I got it in an all-star game I played in once and ever since that I’ve liked it because I played well in that game. I’ve always tried to get close to it. It’s just my number.”

» On his typical day…

“I wake up way too early. I pick up Kaine (Geldart) and sometimes (Chad) Beal on the way to school. I go to school and after I get out of school, I head straight to the rink. I practice, workout, go home, eat dinner, do homework, then it all starts over.”

» On his pre-game routine…

“I sleep in until usually 11:30 or noon. I’ll eat and get moving around a bit and then I’ll eat again around 3:30 or so. I’ll shower, get ready, and then head to the rink.”

» On what he'd do if he didn't play hockey…

“That’s tough, I’ve never thought about that. Every time I’ve tried to, I start doing something else. If I wasn’t a hockey player, I would want to be an agent.”

» On what he brings to the team…

“I want to bring some intensity and I want to contribute some points.”

» On his favorite class…

“My favorite class was gym, but I don’t have that anymore, so now it’s math.”

» On what AJ stands for…

“Don’t worry about it, doesn’t matter what it stands for. Ok, the ‘A’ is for Arthur, the ‘J’ is for Jenks. Oh, and there's no periods.”

» On his nicknames…

“Everybody just calls me Jenks or Smelt because I’m a rookie.”

» On his superstitions…

“I always put the equipment on the left side of my body on first. That’s about it.”

» On his other hobby hunting…

“The opening day for hunting already passed. It was horrible, it’s the first time I’ve missed it. Those are the sacrifices you’ve got to make. I got a 13 point buck two years ago. It’s hanging up in my room back home and I named him Fluffy.”

» On his dream goal…

“It’s a pretty typical goal that you would hear from every guy: Stanley Cup Finals, Game 7, against any team, any goalie, doesn’t really matter. It would be off the faceoff in the last seconds of overtime. Right before the clock would end.”

» On his funniest teammate…

“Oh, they’re all funny. James Neal maybe.”

» On the person he would most like to meet…

“Jessica Simpson.”

» On what one thing he could not live without…

“Hockey and orange juice. That's two, so hockey first.”

» On his dream vacation…

“Western Canada, somewhere out there.”

» On one rule change he would make in hockey…

“I don’t like when a guy clears the puck out of his defensive zone and it goes over the glass that he gets a penalty. I think that is stupid.”

» On what TV show he would be on…

“I would want to be on the Contender, the show on ESPN. I’ve only seen it once, but it was cool.”

» On what other five players he would want on the ice with him…

“Up front, I would have Gordie Howe and Steve Yzerman. On defense, I would have Scott Stevens and Bobby Orr. In net, I would have Patrick Roy.”

-Natalie Shaver, October 3rd, 2006-

 

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