by Arch Ecker
It only took three minutes at the start of last season for AJ Vanderbeck to make his mark with his new team in Wenatchee. Now, after wrapping up the season with 39 goals, he is preparing to return to Wenatchee for the 2017-18 season.
The hard-shooting winger was beginning his third year of junior hockey, and doing it in his third different league with his third different team. At the 3:00 minute mark of the first period in Prince George, Vanderbeck snapped home a wrister from the slot, set up by Brian Williams. Vanderbeck would go on to score 39 goals on the year, rocketing past the old franchise record of 32 set by Jono Davis in the 2012-13 season. He would also score the “Teddy Bear Toss” goal in December, and he assisted linemate Jimmy O’Brien on the final goal of the regular season as well. One of his personal highlights of his season was a four-goal night during a 6-3 win at Surrey on Jan. 5, 2017.
As a youth, he played close to home initially, skating for the Colorado Rampage Bantam AAA, U16, and U18 teams. His first taste of playing away from home was in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex with the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL in 2014-15. The following season he skated in the USHL with Sioux Falls before choosing Wenatchee last season. Now, he is ready to return to the Wild for another season along with a handful of teammates from last season’s Boileau Memorial Trophy winning team.
“AJ is a kid who shoots it a ton”, says Head Coach / GM Bliss Littler. “He has a pro caliber shot, and he’s not afraid to use it. His first thought is always to shoot, and usually it’s his second and third option too”, he jokes. “He’s worked hard to grow the rest of his game, and he’s quickly becoming a well-rounded, elite player.”
Season ticket packages are on sale now at the Wild office by calling 509-888-7825. Single game tickets and group packages will be available later this summer. Plans are also underway for multiple fan bus trips this season and will be announced soon.
The Wenatchee Wild are celebrating their tenth season in the Valley. Stay up to date with the team all year long on Facebook (facebook.com/wenatcheewildhockey), Twitter (@WenatcheeWild1), YouTube (Wen Wild), Snapchat (wwildhockey), Instagram (Wenatchee_wild), and on the team’s official website (wenatcheewildhockey.com). Listen to every game on KCSY – Sunny FM 93.9. Download our free “Wenatchee Wild” app for your iOS or Android device.