Thoughout his hockey career, Jordan Schroeder has been the one of the smallest and youngest players on every team he has played for.
Next season Schroeder, a former emerging phenom at St. Thomas Academy, wants to make the jump to the Gophers and continue that trend.
He got a taste of what that might be like on Saturday night. Schroeder played right wing on the first line of the U.S. under-18 national team in its 3-1 exhibition loss to Minnesota at Mariucci Arena.
Chances are, Schroeder will be playing for the Gophers instead of against them sooner rather than later.
Gophers coaches have told him privately he has a roster spot next season if he wants it; his other option is to play in the U.S. Hockey League. "Anything can happen," Schroeder said, "but I am 95 percent sure I want to play for the Gophers."
He will be too old for the U.S. under-18 team and, under normal circumstances, too young for college. He just turned 17 last month and should be a junior at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the national team is based.
But Schroeder decided to accelerate his high school education, as have two other players so they can play for the Gophers starting in 2008-09. One is Schroeder's teammate Sam Lofquist, a defenseman for Faribault who scored for the U.S. under-18 team on a power play with 26 seconds left. He became a senior two weeks ago. The other is Roseau defensemen Aaron Ness, who played briefly with the under-18 team recently. He's taking his junior and senior year at the same time, through online classes.
Schroeder finished his third year of high school this past summer, taking five online classes offered by Brigham Young .
"I grew up in Minnesota," Schroeder said. "I went to Gophers games as a young kid, dreamed of playing for them."
Said Jordan's mother, Deb: "His academics are strong; otherwise we would not have considered him playing Division I hockey next season."
Splitting time between the U.S. under-17 and under-18 teams last season, Schroeder (5-8 and 175 pounds) scored 20 goals and had 32 assists.
"[Schroeder's] hockey sense is very good," said John Hynes, the U.S. under-18 head coach. "He has world-class speed. He's an excellent skater."
He began playing hockey at age 4 to fit in with Lakeville friends and neighbors. Ten years later, Schroeder had 27 goals and 35 assists as a freshman on the Cadets' Class 1A state championship team.
"It was pretty obvious Jordan was special and would move on," Cadets coach Tom Vannelli said.
He left STA as a sophomore to join the U.S. national development program. "It's not for everybody," Deb Schroeder said. "It has to be the right situation for a player and a family."
Schroeder and his mother are still hedging on next season; his father John is not: "[Jordan] will be with the Gophers."
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