For the first time since the 2005-06 season, a familiar face will be absent from the Ferris State University men's ice hockey program as director of hockey operations Dave Cencer accepted the video coordinator position with the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs earlier this summer.
The Rockford IceHogs are members of the American Hockey League (AHL) and an affiliate of the National Hockey League's (NHL) Chicago Blackhawks. The IceHogs are coached by Bill Peters and play their home games at the MetroCentre in Rockford.
Prior to his new post at Rockford, Cencer had served the last four seasons (2005-09) as Ferris State's director of hockey operations and the Bulldogs' video coordinator. He also was the program's strength and conditioning coach. Cencer was also the co-director of the Ferris State Summer Hockey School. For the past two years, Cencer served as a coach and a player evaluator at the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association Select Festival.
Cencer's primary responsibilities as the video coach at Rockford will entail some strength and conditioning work, but will mostly focus on video breakdown. He will coordinate all the opponent pre-scouting and will breakdown games live. Cencer is in charge of coordinating all video for both teams (Chicago and Rockford) and individual player meetings.
"We're really excited to get an individual with the many talents which Dave possesses and know he will be a great asset to our organization," said Rockford IceHogs President/General Manager Mark Bernard. "Dave brings a wealth of knowledge to our organization and will be able to help our coaching staff in numerous ways, particularly allowing them to devote more time on the ice working with our prospects on skill development."
"I'm very excited for the opportunity I've been given by the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford Ice Hogs," said Cencer. "This will give me a unique opportunity to work some of hockey's elite players and coaches, while helping me continue my own development as well. Chicago is an up-and-coming organization that has really turned things around over the last two years. The Blackhawks have a lot of young talent and depth, which carries over to its affiliate in Rockford. With Chicago making the Western Conference Finals last season and Rockford making the Calder Cup playoffs as well, both the direction and expectations of this organization are on the rise."
Cencer is grateful to Ferris State University and the men's ice hockey program in particular for the opportunity which was afforded to him.
"My time at Ferris State was invaluable and I am looking forward to hopefully working with the players, staff and community again at some point in the future," stated Cencer. "Both the university and the community do a great job supporting the hockey program and I had nothing but great experiences there. I was given an excellent opportunity to learn the game and develop my skills with video breakdown and strength training/conditioning and I enjoyed every minute of it.
"The players and coaches were all great to work with and I am very thankful for the opportunity I was given. My wife (Anna) and I both grew up in Big Rapids, we enjoy the community and we look forward to coming back," added Cencer.
A native of Big Rapids, Mich., Cencer spent two seasons (2003-04 and 2004-05) doing video work for the Bulldogs on a voluntary basis. He has served as an instructor and co-director at the Ferris State Hockey Skills Center since 2005, worked as a coach at the 2008 Michigan Amateur Hockey Association bantam state festival and assisted in strength and conditioning testing at the 2008 Philadelphia Flyers (National Hockey League) Player Development Camp.
Cencer is presently in Chicago, Ill., assisting with the Chicago Blackhawks' primary training camp and helping the coaching staff in the team's first preseason game against the Washington Capitals on Sept. 19. Rockford's training camp starts Sept. 20 with the IceHogs beginning preseason action in Rockford on Sept. 23. During the camp, Cencer is responsible for on-ice practices, coaching scrimmages, and providing video analysis.
Besides Cencer, the Rockford organization also has another individual with Ferris State connections in Derek Nesbitt. The former Bulldog hockey standout played four seasons (2001-05) at Ferris State and was a member of the program's first-ever Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) regular-season championship team in the 2002-03 season.