Hockey has been a part of Brendan Ondick’s life for as long as he can remember.
The freshman forward, who leads Temple in points and goals, has been playing the sport since he first learned how to rollerblade at 2 years old. He first strapped on ice skates two years later and began playing ice hockey at the age of 4.
Now, he leads Division I of the American Collegiate Hockey Association with 40 points.
“He has good size, good speed, good hands, good shot,” coach Mark Spease said. “He has really good vision of the ice. He anticipates really well. He’s still got some way to go, and frankly I’m really excited to work with him over the next four years.”
Not only is Ondick bringing offensive production to the team, but he is “getting a voice” and becoming a vocal leader in the locker room, Spease said. Senior defenseman and captain Ryan Dumbach sometimes looks to Ondick for advice, Dumbach said.
“He’s a step above normal incoming freshmen,” Dumbach said.
Ondick has “taken the game over” offensively and has “contributed in all aspects of the team’s game,” Dumbach said. Ondick leads Temple with nine power-play points and is tied for first with three short-handed goals.
Ondick said that he was never a vocal player, but once he got to Temple he decided to be more outspoken.
“Coming here and into this team I’ve kind of tried to share the things that I’ve learned playing hockey…and kind of tried to develop a leadership role here and am trying to, as well as the coaches, bring a winning culture here that they haven’t had the past couple years,” Ondick said.
Ondick credits his success on the ice to knowledge gained from a long history of playing hockey.
He played for travel teams and for Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Bucks County, for the first half of his freshman year of high school. He then transferred to New Hope-Solebury High School, where there wasn’t a hockey team, but he continued to play with travel teams.
Ondick said he did not have any official offers to play hockey in college, but he was in contact with some NCAA Division I schools.
He spoke to representatives from Princeton University at a hockey showcase and drew interest from Merrimack College, but he ultimately did not receive an offer from either school.
Instead of going directly to college, Ondick spent the year after he graduated high school playing hockey with the North Jersey Avalanche, a USA Hockey registered association in Hackensack, New Jersey. He developed his shot and became a more dynamic player, he said.
“When I was there, I was put in more of a goal-scoring role, which was different,” Ondick said. “I’ve been more of a guy that tries to set people up and was more of a playmaker.”
Ondick and an Avalanche teammate who lived close to his home in Bucks County took turns driving the 87 miles to the Avalanche’s facility. The trip took “anywhere from an hour and 15 minutes to sometimes even three hours” to get to practice three times a week, Ondick said.
“It was definitely a lot, but in the end I think it [was] worth it because that was probably the most fun year I had playing hockey,” Ondick said.
After that, Ondick enrolled at Penn State Altoona for one semester during the 2016-17 academic year, but he soon decided to return home and attend Bucks County Community College in Spring 2017.
Ondick didn’t play hockey at either school. But he missed the game more than he thought he would.
After watching some of his former Avalanche teammates continue to play and have fun, he wanted to return to the game, but he didn’t want something as time consuming as Division I hockey.
He then learned about Temple’s hockey program and decided to join.
“I’m really focused on just doing my part and trying to help the team win and bring in that winning culture and go in the right direction and the direction we’re trying to go towards, which is winning the league and then going to nationals,” Ondick said. “That’s our goal. I want to try to do my best to help the team get there.”