There isn’t much that Jimmy Schuldt has to be envious about on the ice these days.
And the one thing he is a little jealous of has nothing to do with the fact that of the five NHL draft picks on the St. Cloud State roster, none are named Schuldt.
“That’s not a big deal to me at all,” Schuldt said. “Our program has had a lot of players go on to the NHL who weren’t drafted. I guess it’s a little extra motivation to work harder, but that’s it.”
At 6-1 and 205 pounds, the sophomore knows if he continues to take care of business on the ice the NHL will eventually come calling. Last season he turned heads by scoring 10 goals and adding 26 assists and leading the team with 95 blocked shots and a plus-31 rating and invited to multiple NHL summer camps.
And though the Huskies are just 4-4 heading into the Friday night’s televised showdown on ASN at NCHC rival Colorado College, Schuldt continues to impress.
So what makes the Huskies’ co-captain tick?
His own and what he sees in teammates Jake, Nick and Ryan Poehling.
All three are freshmen and while Nick and Jack are twins, Ryan graduated from high school a year early to join his brothers on the Huskies’ roster.
“That is just the coolest thing to see them getting to play together,” Schuldt said. “I think Ryan is the youngest player in college hockey. I’d love to play with my brothers again.”
Schuldt’s family ties are strong. Though he wears No. 22, all his sticks are marked with the No. 2 in honor of his older brother Joe, had to give up his hockey career at Michigan Tech because of concussions.
“Seeing him forced to retire was tough,” Schuldt said. “He was a fighter. He was good. Now when I look up in the stands I see him wearing my jersey and cheering for me, which is cool. I put his number on my stick for motivation. You never know when things will be taken from you and I look at it when things get tough and think of what he would give to be out here.”
The Schuldts are a tight-nit group. All four sons are defensemen, as well as his mom Sheri.
Yes, mom plays hockey.
Dad Steve played football and was a captain at SCSU in the 1980s.
“I love that she plays,” Jimmy said. “She started when I was about 8 and now she asks us advice on how to do things. She always says it is funny how she started out helping us learn to play and now we’re helping her.
“I’ve got a lot of family support. Sometimes, it’s almost frustrating because I will feel I played horrible and she’ll tell me how great I played. That’s a mom.”
The Huskies will have their hands full Friday night against a revitalized CC program. Even last year, when the Tigers finished last in the NCHC, they were able to hand SCSU one of only nine losses during the school’s historic season in which they finished 31-9-1.
Colorado College is 3-5 overall and coming off a split with Omaha. A sweep by either team will have a huge impact.
SCSU was swept last weekend by No. 1-ranked Duluth, but swept WCHA power Minnesota the week prior. For the season, the Huskies are scoring 3.8 goals per game and giving up 3.8 goals per game.
SCSU’s strength is in its blue line corps.
Schuldt has been teaming with freshman Dennis Cholowski, the school’s first recruit to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft (Detroit Red Wings) while another freshman defenseman, Jack Ahcan, was the USHL Defenseman of the Year last season and is one of the team’s leading scorers with a goal and six assists. He has been paired with Will Borgen, a sophomore and 2016 draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, who also has six assists.
The depth doesn’t stop there. The other blueliners include sophomore Jon Lizotte (10 assists last season), junior alternate captain Nate Widman (3 goals, 16 assists in his career at SCSU), senior Niklas Nevalainen (4 goals, 35 assists in his career at SCSU) and junior Mika Ilvonen, a member of Team Finland at 2013 U18 World Junior Championships and with Team Finland at the 2013 Hlinka Memorial Cup tournament.
“We’re deep on defense,” Schuldt said. “We’ve got some things to work on as a team, but we’re getting it figured out. Last weekend we were right there with Duluth, the top team in the nation. We can beat anyone but we can’t overlook anyone in this league. I don’t think it has the separation from top to bottom like last year.”
Above: Photo courtesy St. Cloud University Media Relations