Ian Scheid always figured he’d be part of the Minnesota State men’s hockey team’s first run through the NCAA Tournament.
He had hoped it was going to happen last season, as many did, but the coronavirus pandemic robbed Scheid, who played from 2016-20, and his classmates of that opportunity.
Turns out, he got to be there for it after all, even in a world of restricted access to sporting events.
As a member of the American Hockey League’s Colorado Eagles, Scheid lives in Loveland, Colorado, and the Budweiser Events Center is his home arena.
“I was pulling for them to come to Loveland ... selfishly,” Scheid said with a laugh.
Leading up to the games, Scheid was in contact with his old teammates, telling them about the ice, area and building.
He knew he would miss the game against Quinnipiac because he had a game of his own, but after returning to Loveland, Scheid was able to get into the building to watch his old teammates and friends dominate Minnesota in the regional final.
After the victory, he wasn’t able to speak with anyone due to coronavirus restrictions, but he made his way over to the MSU tunnel through the stands to cheer his buddies as they left the ice.
There were a lot of emotions given the abrupt ending to last season, but in a West Regional that was basically only attended by players’ families, Scheid knew it was his job to represent MSU hockey alumni everywhere.
“They way it ended last year with my classmates, that’s not how anyone wanted to go out. But it’s just kind of the time we were in back then,” Scheid said. “It’s great to see the players now, because you know how hard they work in the summer and how hard they work throughout the year ... how much time the coaches put into scouting reports of other teams.
“All the alumni are so proud of them.”
It’s not just recent former Mavericks who are excited.
Former MSU coach Don Brose, who started the program in 1969 and coached until 2000, hasn’t been able to keep up with the team as he normally would this season.
In past years, Brose, 81, has visited the locker room to say a few words after a big home sweep and has gotten to know the players, but the pandemic hasn’t allowed him to do that this season.
He was able to get to one home game earlier in the season, but he’s spent some time in assisted living, which didn’t allow him to listen or watch the Mavericks each weekend.
That’ll change this week, as Brose will head to Pittsburgh to cheer on the Mavericks with his wife, daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter.
“At 81 years old, I don’t have many exciting events left in my life,” Brose said with a laugh. “I’m going to enjoy every one that comes along, and it’s going to be very special going to Pittsburgh.”
For Brose, it’s rewarding to see something he started get to where it is today.
“It’s so special. I might have been part of the building of the foundation ... but Mike Hastings has taken it to another level,” Brose said. “He’s building skyscrapers on top of the foundation.”
Steve Forliti, a 1981 MSU graduate who played on the 1980 Division II national championship team, is feeling a similar sense of pride.
Forliti, who lives near Rochester and normally attends several games each season, has followed the Mavericks closely and will also be heading to Pittsburgh.
Over the last week, Forliti said he’s exchanged calls and texts with countless former Mavericks about the team’s run, and the excitement is reminiscent of 1980.
“I think it’s just time. I was ready to go to Detroit (the Frozen Four) last year,” Forliti said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world. It touches a special place in my heart.”
From someone who’s gotten it done before, he’s got a good feeling.
“I get nervous like I did when I was playing ... like I was going to get on the ice myself and try to get this thing done,” Forliti joked. “I think they’re going to have a lot of good success this weekend.”
Follow Kevin Dudley on Twitter @Dudley7Kevin.