Before New Jersey draft pick Joe Faust started playing college hockey, he tried to condition himself off the ice.

But it wasn’t easy.

“I tried to do things away from the rink to improve myself,” Faust said. “I’d never worked religiously with one person seven days a week.

“To have that in college and when you come out here too, it really helps a lot. It’s something that’s really important if you want to play your game today, to keep yourself in shape year-round.

“I enjoy doing that and I feel like that’s really helped me to become a better player.”

At Wisconsin, Faust worked with the Badgers’ strength and conditioning coach, Jim Snider. As he grew off the ice, Faust also improved on the ice. The 22-year-old said he improved his skating and defensive positioning.

“In the amount of ice time that you get, you improve pretty much all aspects of your game,” Faust said. “Your skill set, your hands and shooting [and] passing. I think we really improved in a lot of different areas.”

Faust, named to the WCHA All-Academic Team twice and the Big Ten All-Academic Team, stayed with the Badgers for all four years to get his degree.

“I felt like that was just the right way to go about my development,” Faust said.

“Talking with the Devils, we felt that was the best thing for me to do was to stay. I’m glad I did, I certainly enjoyed my time there. I felt like I learned a lot on and off the ice and matured. It was a good experience.”

During his four-year stint with Wisconsin, Faust helped the Badgers claim two league titles, including the inaugural Big Ten championship. Last season, the Badgers also recorded a program-high 17 wins at the Kohl Center.

Faust finished his Badger career with 136 games played. The Bloomington, Minn., native recorded a career-high 14 points in his senior season.

Faust’s previous career high at Wisconsin had been five points.

The Devils drafted Faust in the fourth round in 2010, after the several seasons Faust spent playing high school hockey in Minnesota.

The 22-year-old, who’s attended New Jersey’s development camp in the past, said this year he’s focusing on what he needs to bring to the team.

“The coaches shared some experiences they had from playing pro, and the biggest thing I’ve learned was how to set yourself apart and how to focus on what you can bring to a team,” Faust said.

“It’s a message that you probably hear in the back of your head, but to hear it again here at this camp, it’s something that meant a lot to me.”

For Faust, that’s focusing on hard work and defensive-zone play.

“Being able to shut down the opponent and hopefully get the puck back, force some turnovers and get the puck moving up ice is definitely part of my game,” Faust said.

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