Justin Pender: Finding His Shot

For Justin Pender to get a shot, he needs to work on his shot.  I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it.

He’s a big blueliner with a rocket of a slapshot, but he struggled with putting it on goal at times last season.  This season?  He’s hoping the work he put into it in the off-season will finally pay off.

“Every time I’d skate in the summer, at the end I’d usually just take some guy and just fire pucks at the net,” Pender said.

“I’d shoot like 50, 100 pucks a day.  Whenever I got that chance, I’d do that.”

Pender’s had a hard shot ever since he first started playing, but isn’t quite sure how he was able to do it at first.

“All through pee-wee, bantam, people would tell me I had a hard shot.  It might have started when I was younger.  I was out in the backyard firing pucks or balls around the yard or the garage door.  Maybe that could have helped.  But it wasn’t really working on anything, it was just taking shots.”

There are, of course, other things that he’s looking to improve on this season, and he’s made big strides in doing so, starting with losing some weight coming into camp this year.

“Last year, I was a little bit chunky,” he said.

“I’m not so chunky now, I lost some weight over the off-season.  I worked a lot on my feet and my cardio in the off-season, so I’m a lot leaner and trying to get faster.  My strength from last year has improved this year as well.”

A big, physical defenseman, Pender is looking to drop the gloves more often in 2010-11.

“Last year, I had between six to eight fights and I’d like to get a few more this year,” he told me.

“That’s a big part of my game, when I’m playing physical, I play my best games.  We’ve got a couple players here who are willing to do the same role as I am, so hopefully we’ll all get together and do that.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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