Minnetonka's Joe Schuldt of Team Southwest leans on Team North's Mitch McClain of Brainerd. Photo by Helen Nelson
Sibling rivalries are fairly common, especially when two or more members of a family wear the same colors and play the same sport.
However, if there is any sibling rivalry between Minnetonka brothers Jimmy and Joe Schuldt, the star defensemen sure don’t make it seem that way. In fact, they thrive off playing and succeeding together.
Their ability to get along – both on the ice and off it – has helped the two players to develop a rare chemistry while patrolling the blueline.
“We know each other really well out there,” Jimmy, the younger of the brothers, said. “It’s fun to play with Joe, because I know he’ll always have my back on the ice. I can get up in the play, and he’ll stay back. That way I can be more offensive.”
The Schuldt brothers have had the opportunity to
build that chemistry ever since youth hockey, where they often played on the same team.
“The first year I would play peewees or bantam by myself, then Jimmy would play on the same team the next year,” Joe said. “We played together a lot growing up.”
Last year with the Skippers, Joe and Jimmy put up nine and 13 points, respectively, which are good numbers for defensemen playing the kind of competition Minnetonka sees each night of their schedule. More importantly, the Schuldt brothers were a combined plus-40 in 25 regular season games, a much more accurate indicator of their steadiness at the point.
Now, with Joe entering his senior year and Jimmy beginning his junior campaign, the brothers were awarded the chance to test their skills in the annual Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League as members of Team Southwest, where they are joined by four other Minnetonka teammates.
Both of the Schuldt brothers know they have an exceptional opportunity to improve before the official season begins just after Thanksgiving.
“The Elite League is obviously a great league, and it will get us some games before the season,” Joe said. “It’s also nice to be able to work on things we haven’t been able to work on in past years.”
Jimmy has buried twice and has six points for Team Southwest this fall, with his most recent assist coming after a perfect pass to Joe was blasted top-shelf against Team North - Joe's first goal and fifth point in Elite League play.
While the Elite League allows them to hone their craft on the ice, collective goals are likely more important to the Schuldt brothers. If Minnetonka is able to hoist a championship trophy in St. Paul on the second Saturday in March, chances are good that Joe and Jimmy Schuldt will be the first to congratulate each other during the celebration.
No matter what happens, the Schuldt brothers will be there for each other, on the rink and off it.
-- Zack Friedli, MN Hockey Hub staff
Minnetonka junior Max Coatta scored twice in the first period as Team Southwest raced to a big early lead and went on to beat Team North 6-3 on Saturday, Oct. 1, in an Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League game at the IRA Civic Center in Grand Rapids.
Coatta’s two goals bumped his team-leading season total to 12 through 10 games. Connor Anderle of Breck has the next best Team Southwest total with six.
Minnetonka’s Vinni Lettieri and Joe Schuldt also scored for Team Southwest (6-5-1), which led 4-0 in the second period on a goal by Hopkins’ Tanner Holmquist.
Edina’s Lou Nanne also scored for Team Southwest.
Hibbing’s Adam Johnson, Grand Rapids’ Travis Underwood and Hermantown’s Jared Thomas were the goal-scorers for Team North (5-4-1). Thomas also had an assist.
Team Southwest had 37 shots on goal compared to 32 for Team North.
Blake Cates of Stillwater made 29 saves to earn the victory for Team Southwest. Nick Malvin of Blaine stopped 31 shots for Team North.
-- Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor
Minnetonka's Vinni Lettieri of Team Southwest scores on Team North goaltender Nick Malvin of Blaine as Team North defenseman Jared Kohlquist of Hermantown gives chase. Photo by Helen Nelson
1. Blake Cates, Team Southwest
A 6-foot-1, 201-pound senior from Stillwater, Cates isn’t just a big body filling the goal. He worked his angles well and left precious few rebounds for Team North in a scintillating 29-save performance.
2. Max Coatta, Team Southwest
A Minnetonka junior, Coatta continued his torrid goal-scoring pace by notching two more to give him 12 through 10 games. Coatta also helped create several scoring opportunities on the rush with his speed and playmaking.
3. Travis Underwood, Team North
A Grand Rapids native playing in his home rink, the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Underwood scored a third-period goal as Team North refused to fold.