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Henrich a jack of all trades on ice

The power forward prefers the center, but has no trouble playing on the wing.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins center Adam Henrich brings toughness and scoring ability to the team’s offense.

Clark Van Orden/The Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE TWP. – Ask Adam Henrich what kind of game he brings to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and he rattles off a checklist.

Offensive skill? Check.

High energy? Check.

Willingness to drop the gloves? Check.

Aggressive forecheck, post in front of the net and dig along the boards? Check, check and check.

Henrich, 24, is a 6-4, 225-pound power forward who gives head coach Dan Bylsma the luxury of versatility. He can play center or wing, man the power play and create offense.

Best of all, Henrich isn’t picky about where he plays or how Bylsma chooses to utilize him.

“Wherever they want to play me I can play. I do like center because I can see the ice better and keep my legs moving, but if I’m on wing or I can work hard along the boards,” he said.

Henrich spent the last five seasons bouncing between the AHL and ECHL. He put up decent numbers at each stop, but last season was somewhat of a break-through at the AHL level. In 43 games with the Norfolk Admirals, Henrich scored 14 goals to go along with 17 assists and 88 penalty minutes.

He also saw significant time on Norfolk’s top power play unit, an aspect he hopes to see with the Penguins.

“I enjoy getting in front of the net, shielding the goalie and tipping pucks,” Henrich said. “I enjoy whacking away at rebounds to get the garbage goals.”

Standing in front of the other team’s net brings scoring opportunities, and punishment. Defenders don’t hesitate to throw a crosscheck or slash to clear the crease. Henrich said he is willing to take such abuse because it is worth it to see the puck go in the net.

And with the Penguins pool of offensive defensemen, Henrich will be more eager to be a presence in front.

“I’m excited because we have a solid D and the offense I’ve seen here is awesome,” he said. “I’ll take a beating to get a goal because I know my D will get the puck through. They are skilled enough to put it in a spot to get a goal.”

Does Henrich’s joy of standing in front of the opposing goaltender mean he will employ a technique similar to what former New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery tried during last season’s playoffs?

“That’s not my game,” Henrich laughed. “If you do that here, you’ll get jumped. I’m surprised he didn’t get jumped. But that’s the way he plays the game and he’s good at it.”

No matter where Henrich plays, he said he’s looking forward skating in front of a home crowd that he despise as an opposing player.

“I hated them when I played against them, but you love them when you play for them,” he said. “I played here seven or eight times before, and I’m looking forward to playing in front of them on their side.”

Notes: The Penguins host the Hershey Bears tonight at the Wachovia Arena at 7:05. They then travel to Hershey for their fourth and final exhibition game on Saturday.

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