In a game against Michigan Tech last month, UAA freshman center Eric Scheid found himself running out of time, space and options.
Curling up the boards toward the blue line in the Huskies' zone, the puck on his backhand, his back to the net and defenders closing in, Scheid seemed stymied. He figured his only play was to cycle the puck down to the corner from which he had come.
In an instant, though, he spied defenseman Corbin Karl busting down the far side of the slot, unchecked.
"I caught him out of the corner of my eye, streaking down,'' Scheid recalled.
With a flick of his wrists, Scheid whipped a backhand pass 40 feet onto the stick blade of Karl, who collected the pass, fired and scored.
That play stemmed from imagination, patience and skill, resources the rookie has brought to a generally low-scoring Seawolves team in need of them.
After going without a point in his first three college games -- Scheid didn't dress for the first six games of the season because of a hip injury and a lineup that was often winning -- the rookie has delivered one goal and four assists in the last five games.
That production hints of a guy more prone to distribute the puck than bury it.
"My whole life, I feel like I've been classified as a playmaker,'' Scheid said. "My shot -- it's not terrible, but I'm not a natural goal scorer. When I get the puck, I like to make plays.''
Scheid, a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder, furnished three assists last weekend in a road win and tie against Minnesota State-Mankato. All three helpers were primary assists, all three came on the power play and all three culminated in Curtis Leinweber goals.
Those passes helped awaken a slumbering UAA power play, which had converted just twice in 26 chances in the Seawolves' first eight Western Collegiate Hockey Association games, but cashed in four times on eight opportunities last weekend. And that came in a series in which UAA scored 10 goals after scoring a mere seven goals in eight prior WCHA matches.
Scheid's first power-play assist at Mankato came on a Friday night give-and-go on the right wing with Leinweber. The next two came Saturday when Scheid, at 19 the second-youngest UAA player, made passes from behind the net to Leinweber in the slot.
Scheid's second assist Saturday was especially cagey. Moving left to right behind the net, his back to the boards, he convinced Mavericks goaltender Phil Cook he was going toward the right post. Instead, Scheid slid a pass past the left post and to Leinweber, who enjoyed ample net because Cook was pushing toward the opposite post.
"Scheid made a great pass,'' Leinweber said. "If I missed it, I'm kicking myself. All those passes were exactly where they needed to be -- they were on the tape and I had plenty of time.
"He anticipates the play well and he has great poise with the puck.''
Scheid committed to UAA while he was still at senior at Blaine High in Minnesota. He said he also had an offer from Union College, but chose UAA's offer because it plays in the WCHA -- great competition, and family can see him play in many road series -- and he's an outdoorsman.
"I immediately jumped on it because I love to hunt and fish, and I love it up here,'' Scheid said.
He showed up in Alaska earlier than he needed to for school because he wanted to spend some outdoors time with Jared Hanson of Palmer, who was his teammate last season with the Lincoln Stars of the U.S. Hockey League.
Scheid said he fished for salmon and rainbow trout, and loved his taste of Alaska's outdoors.
So far, the Seawolves have loved what he's done indoors.
UAA senior wing Jade Portwood (knee), junior center Alex Gellert (shoulder) and junior center Daniel Naslund (concussion) will all miss the series with injuries. Nine different Seawolves have already missed a total of 39 games this season because of injuries.
Be interesting to see if junior wing Mickey Spencer plays. He was the only guy in a purple practice sweater at Thursday's practice, and that usually indicates a guy who isn't on a regular line. Spencer last Saturday at Minnesota State-Mankato received a major penalty and game misconduct for spearing
The Seawolves Blueliners Luncheon is 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. today at the Lucy Cuddy Center on the UAA campus. UAA coach Dave Shyiak is scheduled to speak.
A Skate With The Seawolves session is scheduled after Saturday night's game. Kids should bring skates and helmets. A jersey auction will also take place during the session.
This is the last time Alaska fans will see the Fighting Sioux logo. Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, North Dakota will no longer use the Fighting Sioux nickname or logo. That's the upshot of years of contending with the NCAA, which objected to the nickname as hostile and threatened postseason sanctions on hosting NCAA events. The school could have continued using the logo if two tribes approved, but one tribe did not.
A North Dakota pregame social is scheduled tonight from 5-6 p.m. in the beer garden at Sullivan. That's located in the southeast corner of the arena.
North Dakota captain Mario Lamoureux is the younger brother of former Alaska Aces goaltender Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, who also played at North Dakota. Another Lamoureux brother, Jacques, played briefly for the Aces last season. The former Air Force standout is stationed at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Find Doyle Woody's blog at adn.com/hockeyblog or call him at 257-4335.Blog: Woody on Hockey
By DOYLE WOODY
Anchorage Daily News