Admirals’ Mark Van Guilder lives his faith on and off the rink

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Good things come for those who wait, and that's true for one of the Milwaukee Admirals who has been involved with the organization for five years.

Mark Van Guilder is in his sixth season with the Admirals and is known for giving back to the community.

Van Guilder is involved with Hockey Players For Kids and has won the Admirals "Man of the Year" award four times because of his service.

Someone who gives so much deserves some good karma -- especially when they're performing well.

Van Guilder was fifth in scoring for the Admirals last year, and this summer, he signed his first NHL contract.

"It feels good. It felt good in the summer, but now that the season is here you kind of have to forget about it and just focus on what's going on here. Whatever you did last year, the year before -- it doesn't matter. You have to get the job done right now. I'm basically focused on playing well but helping us win hockey games," Van Guilder said.

However, the possibility of the call up to the show is always in the back of his mind.

"You learn to appreciate what you have when you battled so hard to get here.  Guys can learn from guys like me and Scott Ford to get to where we are now," Van Guilder said.

Admirals Head Coach Dean Evason sees Van Guilder as a leader for his team, but is also impressed by his story.

Van Guilder started playing professionally in the East Coast Hockey League -- the league below the AHL.

"To start where he started, he played in the coast, and worked his way up and now has an NHL contract. He's just a real sound hockey player that comes to work every day," Evason said.

Ever hear the saying God helps those who help themselves? Well, Van Guilder's good karma could be coming from a higher power since he is a devout Catholic.

"It's something that has to be all the time. If I'm gonna say I'm a Catholic, then I'm a Catholic all the time. It's on the ice and off the ice and it's something you have to live everyday. It's contagious. It rubs off on your teammates. I feel like if I'm going to say I'm one thing, I want my words and my actions to reflect that," Van Guilder said.

With his faith, Van Guilder likes to lead by example, but doesn't mind answering any questions his teammates may have.

"I do my own thing and the guys respond well to that, and they come up to me with questions and have approached me and that's a great compliment to me, being approachable, because that's a really hard topic for a lot of people to talk about so it means a lot to me that teammates will come up to me and ask about that," Van Guilder said.

Van Guilder enjoyed his time playing at Notre Dame and says that's where he grew in his faith. He had grown up Catholic but had so many questions.

"At some point I was kind of realizing, you know what, I wouldn't know what I would say if someone asked me about this, someone asked me about that, so I'm going to find out and do some research and live my faith completely," Van Guilder said.

So the big question is, will Van Guilder join the priesthood once he's done wit hockey.

"People have brought it up to me. I just feel like I'm doing what God wants me to do and I know exactly what he wants me to do in the future. I take it as a compliment but I don't think that's my path exactly," Van Guilder said.

Van Guilder goes to both the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in downtown Milwaukee and Lumen Christi in Mequon.