MANKATO — Leaving town on a Thursday for a hockey weekend is nothing new for Matt Schmidt, but when the Minnesota State men’s team flies east to Ohio today and he goes west to Washington, that will be strange trip for the Mavericks’ associate head athletic trainer.
“It’s going to be weird,” Schmidt said, “especially when I put on my headphones on Friday night and listen to (KTOE radio’s Mike Sullivan). It hasn’t quite set in that we’re not going to the same place.”
Schmidt, will be away from the team for nearly a month as he joins the U.S. Junior National Team as an athletic trainer for the World Junior Championships.
He’s not alone, of course, as Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings is leaving today, too, to be the head coach for Team USA.
“It will be cool,” Schmidt said. “When you go on the ice, you’re Team USA. That’s something cool. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a sense of pride because you’re representing the United States.”
The U.S. team will hold a training camp Saturday-Monday in Everett, Washington, before going to Kamloops, British Columbia, for three more days of training. They will play pre-tournament games against Russia (Dec. 20 in Kamloops) and the Czech Republic (Dec. 22 in Langley, B.C.) before the world championships begin on Dec. 26. The tournament, which takes place in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, runs through Jan. 5.
Hastings and Schmidt will miss six Minnesota State games over that time, including this weekend’s WCHA series at Bowling Green.
Hastings said USA Hockey reached out to him before inviting Schmidt to be part of the staff, and the coach said he supported the idea “100 percent.”
Schmidt has been part of Minnesota State's support staff since 2015.
“He has been an unbelievable addition to our staff here and the entire athletic training department for the university,” Hastings said. “He makes us better, he does.”
Hastings added that Schmidt received good reviews from some of the U.S. players for his work during the World Junior Summer Showcase, a player evaluation camp for the world championships held last July and August in Kamloops.
Courtney Strauss, an assistant athletic trainer who works with the MSU women’s team, will fill in for Schmidt this weekend at Bowling Green. The women are off until Jan. 5.
“What’s cool is, the guys all know where I’m going; they all know where coach Hastings is going,” Schmidt said, “and I think they appreciate it.”
This is Schmidt’s first experience with USA Hockey, however, his past experience includes work with USA Wrestling.
Minnesota State men’s junior Ian Scheid was named WCHA Defenseman of the Week for his play in last weekend’s sweep over Alaska Anchorage.
Scheid had three assists and was plus-6 in the series, a 4-1 victory and a 6-0 win.
Scheid, who also blocked two shots, has two goals and eight assists for 10 points this season. In 95 career games, he has 60 points, including 19 goals.
Minnesota State women’s sophomore Tristen Truax was named WCHA Defenseman of the Week for her play in a series at Minnesota Duluth last weekend.
Truax scored the tying goal in Friday’s 2-2 tie with the Bulldogs and had an assist in Saturday’s 2-1 loss. She also blocked six shots in the two games and helped MSU kill off all six of UMD’s power plays.
Truax, a former forward, now has three goals and an assist this season.
Minnesota State remained No. 3 in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll this week and moved up from fourth to third in the USA Today/USA Hockey rankings. … Bowling Green, this weekend’s opponent is ranked No. 12 in both polls … The Gustavus Adolphus women, who are 7-3-1 at semester break are ranked No. 10 in Division III.