No matter what he has accomplished on the college level, if you ask St. Cloud State sophomore defenseman Jimmy Schuldt about his greatest regret, it always comes back to high school.
“It’s something that will always bother me,” Schuldt said.
The 6-1 defenseman from Minnetonka has head great success with the Huskies, but it was one failure that always haunts him – never making the Minnesota State High School hockey tournament.
“People don’t get it,” Schuldt said. “It’s something you don’t really understand unless you’re from Minnesota. It’s something I always had to watch from the sidelines, and it’s something that’s going to haunt me for a long time.”
The fact that a team that had plenty of talent didn’t make the tournament isn’t a huge surprise. But the fact that it haunts a guy who has gone on to such a respectable and memorable college hockey career does. Schuldt is just in the midst of his second season at St. Cloud State, but he’s elevated himself as one of the team’s and the conference’s best blueliners, leading the Huskies with a plus-minus rating of +15. But statistics aren’t really by what he measures his success.
“Personally, I don’t look at my own points,” Schuldt said by phone. “I don’t look at those type of stats because how I am playing doesn’t rely on goals and assists or shots on net. I could have a great game and have zero points, and I could have a terrible game and have two assists.”
However, he rarely has a night where he doesn’t find the scoresheet. In fact, through 11 games, he leads the Huskies with 16 points and he’s tied for the lead in goals with five. His statistics are a product of his hard work off the ice and his commitment to all parts of his game on it. It’s something he developed during his time as a Skipper – when, like now, he was surrounded with great offensive talent, allowing him to simply lock down the defensive end.
“In high school we had a lot of really skilled guys on our team,” Schuldt said. “Guys like Max Coatta, Jack Ramsey, Vinni Lettieri. Those guys were all on my team growing up. So a bunch of really good forwards that put up a lot of points. So my job was just to limit the shots on goal.”
He’s done the job so well that St. Cloud State has the second-best record in the NCHC and is first in goals against.
“I try to gauge myself more on whether my team is winning,” Schuldt said. “Whether I am making plays and playing well at both ends. So as far as winning, I think we’ve been doing about as well as we can.”
Another former Skipper doing about as well as they can is at Wisconsin where you won’t find many better than sophomore forward Presley Norby. Despite winning the Ms. Hockey Award two years ago, Norby set the bar at an attainable height when she entered college.
“I think coming in, my expectations were just to be a good teammate and to work hard everyday,” Norby said by phone. “Having great teammates and a great coaching staff has really helped me bring those things to the rink every single day.”
The former Skipper, now a sophomore in Madison, is third in the WCHA with 6 goals and 12 assists this season. Wisconsin is the nation’s top ranked team at 17-1-0, and Norby has been a big part of that, averaging a point per game. She’s learned that can put a big target on your back.
“I think almost every team gets excited to play us they give us their best game for sure, “ Norby said. “We try to get excited and pumped up every weekend, but take each week by week.”
Like Schuldt, Norby played on some great teams at Minnetonka. She won the state championship in 2013 and took home the coveted Ms. Hockey honor two years later when her team finished as the state runners-up. Norby played with former UMD Bulldog Sidney Morin with the Skippers and learned a lot of lessons from her that have helped her at Wisconsin.
“I kind of watched her play in the WCHA before she got there and just getting to hear about her transition, watching her and following her,” Norby said. “In high school she was always really helpful.”
It’s fair to say both Schuldt and Norby have represented their high school program well. In doing so they have also helped elevate their collegiate teams. And with both only in their sophomore seasons, believe it or not, their best may be yet to come.
Photos: Nick Wosika (Schuldt)/Susan McPherson (Norby)