Jeff Vanderlugt played his final season of junior hockey with the Surrey Eagles of the British Columbia Hockey League after spending three seasons with the Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. The 6’3″, 220-lb. forward finished third on his team in scoring with 30-24–54 in 66 total games this past season, with 11 of those goals coming on the power play. He played 115 career games with Aurora, where he scored 56-54–100.
As with our other interviews, my questions will be in bold-face type.
When did you first start playing hockey? Who in your family played and was involved in you taking up the game? Have you always played your position, or have you played elsewhere on the ice? What was your favorite team and player growing up?
I first started playing organized hockey at seven years old in the local town league. I had a lot of fun that year and even played goalie a few times. The following season, I followed in my older brother and sister’s foot steps and began to play rep hockey. As you can imagine, it was a great challenge for our parents to get us all where we needed to be. There was always one of them at my games, and sometimes both, and on rare occasions my brother and sister would attend. Aside from playing goalie when I was 7, I have occasionally played defense; but the majority of my career I have been a center man. I did not really have a favorite team growing up, but as I lived near Toronto, we always cheered for the Leafs.
Why do you want to play college hockey as your junior career came to an end? What schools recruited you other than UAH? Why did you choose UAH?
Since I was a young hockey player, I had always wanted to play in the Ontario Hockey League. As I got older, I began to realize just how important school is. I did get drafted into the OHL. After having discussed it, I decided that I would strive to achieve an NCAA scholarship. I played three years for the Aurora Tigers and then in my final year of eligibility I got traded the the Surrey Eagles of the BCHL. Throughout those four years of juniors, I spoke with several different NCAA schools. When I got into talks the coaches of UAH, I got excited. I saw a team that offered a lot of opportunity to play as a freshman.
What do you think are your strengths and weaknesses on the ice? What is your favorite game situation?
I feel that I am a well-rounded, two-way player. I’m a player that loves to be in intense situations, and I am always looking and trying to be a difference maker. I love going into the corners and getting the puck for my teammates. I am a player who will battle when needed. I’ll set up my teammates to score and can also score when I get the chance. I find that my strength as a two-way player can also be my weakness as there are times when, as a forward, I focus too much on the defensive side of the game. I find that my weakness is at times my quick feet. Being 6’3” and having long legs allows me to cover a lot of ice at once but can make things tougher in tight. I am constantly working on my first few steps and they have definitely gotten better however there are always things to improve on.
When you’re not playing hockey, what are your favorite sports? If we come across you away from the rink, what are you going to be doing?
Hockey is definitely my favorite sport. When I am outside of the rink there are many other sports and activities that I enjoy doing. Growing up I played rep lacrosse and our team won the Provincial Championships one year. Dirt biking definitely tops the list; however, in the past few years I have limited the amount of times I ride because the chance of injury is so high. I enjoy fishing, ATVing, working out and in the winter time I will be on a snowmobile at any given opportunity.
What do you want out of your UAH experience? What do you expect to learn here to make you a more well-rounded person?
I am excited and honored to be part of the graduating class of 2015. UAH has an outstanding business program and I am thrilled to be a part of it. Exposing myself to a UAH education will enrich me as an individual and allow me to continue to develop as a hockey player under the excellent guidance of the coaching staff. I like the challenge of attending school and playing hockey as I feel this will help me develop discipline and time management skills that I will use throughout life.