Eric Scheid has come a long way from being a kid in Blaine whose father’s backyard served as the unofficial community rink.
The 23 year-old’s hockey career so far has brought him from the frozen lakes of Minnesota to Lincoln, Nebraska (twice) to Alaska, Anchorage, and finally to State College, Pennsylvania.
This weekend Scheid will finally be getting the opportunity to play in Hockey Day Minnesota when the redshirt senior forward laces up for Penn State against the University of Minnesota.
“It’s always been a fun day full of a lot of hockey," Scheid said about his HDM memories. "You can sit down and watch hockey all day long. You can play hockey all day long because it’s cold enough.”
He came close to participating, once, in 2008, missing out on a chance by a year to play for Blaine High School against Roseau in arctic subzero temperatures. Instead, Scheid watched from the comforts of home.
“It looked miserable out there,” he recalled.
To return home is to come back to a place where he and his two brothers would spend hours upon hours on their outdoor rink, where he developed into a Division 1 player. It’s a place he’s played in the State Tournament. It’s a place where a timely overtime clear at Xcel Energy Center in 2014 helped give the Nittany Lions a program-defining victory.
This season Scheid, one of two Minnesotans on Penn State’s roster, is tied for the Nittany Lions scoring lead with 19 points despite being hampered by injuries to begin the year. The 5’11”, 175 lbs Scheid has a point in 4 of his last 5 games. He can play in all situations and his experience has been vital.
He is at his best when his skating and ability to set up teammates are on display, both of which fit into PSU’s fast paced, shoot-first from anywhere philosophy that has helped the fourth-year D1 program be in contention this season for the Big Ten title and a NCAA Tournament berth.
“I play a fast-paced game. I try to be moving at all times,” said Scheid. “I try to use my speed and my lack of size to try to give me advantage going up against those bigger guys and then also try to add some grit to my game in front of the net.”
Making the decision to transfer to Penn State and the B1G atmosphere was an easy one. Both his parents went to Wisconsin. Scheid said he wanted to have a similar experience of going to a large school where there is much to do besides hockey.
Family comes up a lot with Scheid, whose father Jim played college hockey despite his own small stature. To return home this weekend on Hockey Day Minnesota, in his last trip playing at Mariucci, means getting the hometown love as a visitor and playing in front of them.
This time, however, will be the first since Jim, a three sport star at Rochester John Marshall, passed away in August from a long battle with cancer.
“It’s been an emotional year," Scheid said. "I’ve been trying to dedicate my season to him and stuff, but at the same time I try not to think about it too much and let it overwhelm me. Obviously it’s always going to be on my mind. I just try to go out there and play hockey, to try to wipe my mind when I’m out there.”
Eric honors his father’s memory on the ice by wearing Jim’s 23 this year for the first time since he was younger. His goal celebrations feature him pointing towards the sky.
Scheid also has gotten the support of his second family, his teammates, to get through the season. Ten plus the coaching staff came out for the funeral over the summer.
“The biggest thing honestly has probably been my teammates," he said. "They have been unbelievable throughout this whole season and everything that has happened. They’re obviously like family. They’ve been a backbone for me, a really good support group.”
In true Minnesota hockey fashion, this weekend will be in a place where both families are one.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it would be without them,” said Scheid.