Getting the puck off his stick faster has allowed Hunter Wendt to move it to Fairbanks Ice Dogs teammates in more favorable positions, sending his assist total soaring in his second season as a North American Hockey League player.
As he completes preparation for the start of a college career in the fall at Ferris State University, Wendt looks to add a quicker release to his shot.
“Every practice, I’ve been working on my release, basically getting the puck and getting it off my stick as quick as I can,” said Wendt, a 20-year-old from Troy, Michigan, who led the NAHL with 44 assists in 60 games while ranking third in points with 61. “Getting your shot off quick is key at the next level.”
Wendt was the leading scorer on the league’s regular-season champions when his goal total dipped from 20 to 17 since last season, but his assist total more than doubled from 18.
“The team does a great job of scoring, so I’ve gotten some lucky assists where I’ve just passed it up the ice and these guys have scored,” Wendt said. “I had been working really hard in the summertime to try to get the puck off my stick and to my teammates quicker.”
Wendt has done so from different angles for the Midwest Division champion Ice Dogs, who followed up their regular-season success by winning their first two games in the best-of-five Robertson Cup opening-round series against the Minnesota Magicians. Throughout his two seasons, Wendt has moved back and forth between center and right wing where he is now playing.
The time playing junior hockey in Alaska has helped solidify a nearly-lifelong dream.
Wendt will return to Michigan to play at Ferris State, following his father Tim, who played there from 1980-84 and was Hunter’s first travel hockey coach with the Troy Sting.
“It’s actually been my dream school for my whole life,” Hunter Wendt said. “Since my dad told me he was a Ferris State Bulldog a long time ago, I grew up watching them and wanting to be a Bulldog, so the fact I get to do that is awesome.”
Wendt has long been in contact with the school, making his interest clear. Ferris State stepped up the recruiting with Wendt’s performance in Fairbanks.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I first signed a tender in Fairbanks,” Wendt said. “The crowd at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks is just unbelievable. It’s basically your second home for these past two years.
“When I moved to Fairbanks, I was a little nervous, my first time away from home. From there, with my billets, everything just got so much easier with the support of my family. The coaching staff and the GM, Rob Proffitt, have been nothing but good to me. They made the transition to junior hockey much easier.”
Wendt became a big part of the ongoing success of the Ice Dogs.
Before leaving Fairbanks, Wendt will try to help add to the Robertson Cup titles that Fairbanks won in 2011, 2014 and 2016.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.