As the Wild prepare for their thirteenth season of play, no one has scored more goals in a Wild uniform than AJ Vanderbeck. And while someday that record may ultimately fall, he holds another distinction that can never be taken. He will forever be the first Wenatchee Wild player to hoist a league championship trophy, which he did as captain of the 2017-18 BCHL Fred Page Cup championship team.
Vanderbeck hails from Monument, CO and had success both in high school and with the Colorado Rampage program as he worked his way up the ranks. He went on to play juniors for the Lone Star Brahmas (NAHL) for a season and the Sioux Falls Stampede for a year in 2015-16 before joining the Wild.
In his two seasons in Wenatchee, he helped the Wild win the Boileau Memorial Trophy for the best regular season record and then led the club as captain to both the Fred Page Cup and Doyle Cup. He amassed a total of 76 goals in his two seasons with the Wild, and was widely known for his quick release and punishing shot.
Originally committed to Ohio State University, Vanderbeck found it to be “not the best fit”, and opted to transfer to Northern Michigan University, though NCAA rules required him to sit a year. Upon joining the Wildcats midseason, he promptly put up 9 points in 8 games before a freak morning skate injury knocked him out for the remainder of the schedule. In that short span he was named WCHA Rookie of the Week, and WCHA Rookie of the Month for January 2020.
When the 2020-21 season gets underway, Vanderbeck expects to be fully recovered and ready to go. Because of the transfer, he’ll be considered a redshirt sophomore as he pursues his degree in Financial Management.