By Warren Kozireski —
Over the last decade-plus, the New York Rangers have hit on (played 100 or more NHL games) two sixth round draft choices in Jesper Fast in 2010 and Morgan Barron in 2017. Their 2023 selection, Ty Henricks of the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the USHL, could be the next.
The 6’5”, 210 lb. left wing from Mission Viejo, California left home at 13 years old to pursue his dream with Shattuck St. Mary’s for three seasons.
“When I was about 11, I went to the Shattuck camp for younger kids and it’s kind of a bite-size experience of the school and I did that twice and fell in love with the program and I knew that it was one of my goals to attend the school,” Henricks recalled.
“When I got the opportunity to play up on the U14 at13, there is no way I would turn that down. My parents weren’t too pleased with the idea, but after some thought they said if this is what’s best for him in his hockey career, then let’s let him do it.”
Then it was back home with the Jr. Ducks for the 21-22 campaign where he exploded for a combined 87 goals and 68 assists in 80 games for the 16-U program.
Henricks committed to playing college hockey at Western Michigan in March 2021.
“I really like the way they play; they play physical, they play hard, they have a presence that a lot of teams don’t have. They have a physical presence where, if somebody picks the puck up along the boards, they know they’re going to get hit every single time…so that’s why I picked it, they play more of my style, so I think I’ll fit in really well.”
But first it was off the USHL. His first stop was in Fargo before a mid-season trade last year to Muskegon. This season, Henriks has four goals and four assists through his first 21 games.
“It (the trade) was good for both organizations I think, and it worked out for me; getting drafted by the Rangers really improved my work this summer.”
Henricks did not travel to Nashville for the 2023 NHL Draft but stayed home.
“I was watching it (the NHL Draft) with my dad and my mom and all of a sudden, I turned my head one way and I get drafted. My dad sees it before I do, and he starts jumping and I look at the screen and it was such a surreal moment, and it really was a dream come true.
“Multiple calls—all my friends, family, teammates, coaches and then New York called me—it was a great day.”
Then it was off to Rangers Prospect Camp with his future teammates.
“Definitely a learning experience, learning from the older guys and how they go about their exercises, on the ice, how hard they work and how they take care of their bodies is something I can take for my own game.”
Henricks is hoping to add his name to what is fast-becoming a long line of California-born players to make his mark on the game.
“California hockey is on a boom right now. There’s going to be a lot of players coming out (over) the next four or five years. All these younger guys are going to have so much skill and so much poise with the puck. The amount of ice that’s available in California compared to six or seven years ago is crazy.”
(Photos by Muskegon Jr. Hockey Team)