This past Friday night, the LVC Flying Dutchmen played their home opener against the 13th ranked Utica College in NCAA D-III hockey action. Former Firebirds' player John Wendling joined several other freshmen in the home side's line-up to help LVC carve out a 3-2 come-from behind upset win over their nationally ranked opponent.
Wendling played a regular shift on right wing at even strength and contributed important penalty kill minutes, blocking several dangerous shot opportunities. Unlike his freshmen teammates, who were playing junior hockey before coming to LVC, Wendling was completing a four year tour of duty with the US Army as a paratrooper in Alaska. Firebirds VP Hockey Andy Scott, a former coach of Wendling's in junior hockey who attended Friday's game, commented, "John is the same player he was when I coached him in junior. Obviously his game is more mature now, but he still gives his team 100 percent every shift. He adds a smart, physical presence; a real heart and soul player." Larry Courville, who was with the Firebirds in his first stint as Hockey Director when Wendling played in Lancaster, remembers him as a, "...competitive kid who gave you everything he had every time out on the ice."
Wendling is pursuing a criminal justice degree with an eye to serving in law enforcement after graduation. "The Firebirds' organization and I personally are all very proud of John's service to the United States and of his perseverance in achieving his dream of playing NCAA hockey. He is a tremendous example for our current players of what can be achieved with hard work and determination," added Scott.