Editor's Note: This is the second story in an occasional series of "Where Are They Now?" stories that spotlight St. Thomas' hockey alumni. We'll reconnect with the men who built the program and helped create its national reputation for consistency and excellence. These features will recount the players' experience at Tommies, as well as shed light into their lives after hockey. The St. Thomas hockey experience continues well after a player's final shift on the ice as a senior. Tommies share a strong alumni network, numerous potential job opportunities, and forge lifelong friendships.
No. 14 Eric Wenkus
Eric Wenkus hails from Eden Prairie, Minn., where he played high school hockey for the Eden Prairie Eagles. After graduating Eric played two years of Juniors in the USHL for the Twin City Vulcans. There he earned a scholarship to play at Bemidji State University. After one year in Bemidji, he transferred to St. Thomas (1999-2002).
In 85 games with the Tommies, Eric averaged an excellent 1.49 points per game with 45 goals and 78 assists in those three seasons. His St. Thomas teams made two appearances in NCAA Division III national championship games (runner-up 2000 and 2005), once as a player and the second as an assistant coach.
Eric explained that his decision to transfer to St. Thomas proved to be life changing. St. Thomas is where he met his wife, and earning a degree in Finance from St. Thomas' renown Business school helped prepare him for his current job at UBS, a financial services company.
Why did you choose St. Thomas? When did you graduate from St. Thomas? What did you major in?
I played my freshman year at Bemidji State University. After my freshman year it was decided I wasn't going to return for my sophomore year. I really only wanted to go to St. Thomas. I knew the school was second to none and knew the hockey program had been extremely successful. I chose St. Thomas because of the school's business department reputation within the Twin Cities. I graduated in 2002 after majoring in Finance.
What was your favorite thing about playing hockey at UST? Best memory?
The teammates I had and the coaches I played for and eventually ended up coaching with top my list. We had great teams from 1999-2002. To this day, I still connect with those teammates on a weekly basis. Best memory for sure was our run to the NCAA III national championship game where we lost 2-1 to Norwich in the finals. I then had the privilege to coach with Skry (Terry Skrypek) and Duke (Jeff Boeser) for six years. In my first year as a forwards coach, we again came up one win short of a national championship, losing to Middlebury in the finals. Two of my proudest moments was being named a captain of the 2001-02 season, and winning the "Team Player Award" that season.
What type of player were you?
I played center. Duke gets credit for teaching me how to play defense, as it's fair to say that I turned out to be a reliable defensive center man.
What have you been up to since graduating from St. Thomas? How did St. Thomas prepare you for the next step?
Since graduating in 2002, I've had only one job. I was hired October 2002 at what was then called UBS Painewebber. Today is known as UBS Wealth Management. St. Thomas absolutely provided the tools and the connections within the community to be successful in my career.
Anything advice you'd give to current Tommie hockey players, either hockey wise or job wise?
Focus on LinkedIn and know how to use it. It is a great networking tool. Reach out to alumni for advice and guidance. We all want to help current and former hockey players. Also make sure to have a personal and business email address and use each accordingly.