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Unending pipeline

By Loren Nelson, MN Hockey Hub editor, 11/19/12, 1:45AM CST


Hard-hitting Schuldt brothers have been mainstays in Minnetonka lineup for years

Minnetonka senior defenseman Jimmy Schuldt was a mainstay on the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League's Team Southwest this fall. Photo by Katherine Matthews

The stakes are high when the Schuldts hit the ice on their backyard rink for family scrimmages.

Losers shovel.
“That definitely gets the games going,” said John Schuldt, a Minnetonka sophomore who is the third born of the family’s four hockey playing boys.
Not that the competitive fires need to be stoked. Not with this family.
While tempers typically are held in check, bodies have gone sailing into snow banks. The boys know better than to complain to mom and dad. It might very well have been one of the parents who deposited a son into the rink’s nether regions.

Minnetonka sophomore John Schuldt played forward and defense for Team Southwest in the Elite League as an injury replacement. Photo by Katherine Matthews

Both Steve and Sheri Schuldt were star athletes at St. Cloud State University. Steve, an offensive lineman, was captain of the football team. Sheri played volleyball, basketball and softball growing up. She’s added hockey to her repertoire and plays regularly in a women’s league.
“Sometimes it gets a little too competitive,” Jimmy Schuldt, a senior defenseman who has committed to play at St. Cloud State, said about flare-ups between the brothers. “Usually when we hit each other someone just ends up in the snow.
“But we’ve got plenty of bruises.”
Jimmy also had scholarship offers from RPI, Bemidji State and Michigan Tech. He said after a tour of the campus and meeting with the coaches, the best fit clearly was St. Cloud State. He added it was a difficult choice, though, as the family also has strong ties to Michigan Tech. Joe, the oldest of the Schuldt boys, committed to play for the Tech as a senior last season and is prepping for college by playing in the USHL with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Stampede.
Joe and Jimmy often were paired on defense last season for the Skippers. Both have a ramped-up aggressiveness (perhaps ignited from those backyard games) and display a hit-anything-that-moves mentality.
“They are tough as nails,” Minnetonka coach Brian Urick said. “They are competitors and tough kids that don’t shy away from contact. I think they got a lot of that football from their dad in them.”

Joe Schuldt was a member of Minnetonka's varsity for four years before graduating after last season. Photo by Helen Nelson

Jimmy, at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, looked up to his older brother out of necessity -- Joe is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds -- and out of respect. The pair made it a habit to line up next to each last season during pre-game ceremonies.
“Joe played two years before I played varsity,” Jimmy said. “So I just kind of followed what he did. He was really a role model to me. 
“Ever since sophomore year, the first time me and Joe played together, we lined up on the goal line together. It kind of became a tradition. Every game. Hopefully John will take Joe’s place.”
John, a sophomore who already stands 6-2, is next in the Schuldt assembly line. He was called up to play in the Upper Midwest High School Elite Hockey League this fall as an injury replacement, and he played both as a defenseman and a forward on Team Southwest with Jimmy.
John has cracked the Skippers’ varsity lineup this season, and he’s a defenseman expected to log a regular shift. 
“He had a good tryout,” Urick said. “He’s a big strong kid who can skate.”
Jimmy Schuldt registered 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) last season in 28 games while Joe had a goal and five assists. Jimmy and senior Tommy Vannelli (six goals, 14 assists) give the fourth-ranked Skippers one of best tandems of defensemen in the state. 
The arrival of John helps bolster a unit that lost four of its six regulars to graduation.
Although the Schuldt boys – Jake, the youngest, is playing at the Bantam A level this season –  grew up playing football and baseball, “Hockey has just always been our favorite sport,” John said. “I’ve loved it ever since I started going to skating lessons.”
The Schuldts became a hockey family out of necessity. Sheri said she signed her boys up for every sport imaginable when they were growing up.
“We had four boys in five years,” she said. “We used to take about seven walks around the pond in our neighborhood every day. We had them in basketball, soccer, swimming -- everything.”
“Then we tried skating lessons. When they got done with their first skating lesson, they were so tired when we got home. I thought, ‘Wow, skating is the ticket.’ ”

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