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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 2/21/2013 1:55:03 PM

As the high school hockey season winds down, most on-ice officials are reflecting on the highlights of the past few months. They recall great games, humorous moments and outstanding competition.

Hockey official Jake Eider has similar memories, but his thoughts also turn to the African nation of Tanzania, where he spent three weeks in January on a charity expedition that also included a mountain climb and a safari.

Eider, 34, who lives in Apple Valley and works as a project coordinator for Re/Max Results, was one of the four officials on the ice for Thursday morning’s Class 2A girls state quarterfinal game between Eden Prairie and Forest Lake at Xcel Energy Center. Thursday evening he worked a boys section tournament game at Braemar Arena in Edina. He’s a Duluth native who played high school hockey at Duluth Denfeld and went to college at Minnesota Duluth.

This is his 11th season as an MSHSL hockey official and the third time he’s worked the girls state tournament.

“I really enjoy high school hockey,” he said. “It’s really pure and I think Minnesota has a great brand of high school hockey. And the High School League is a class organization.”

Eider’s season was filled with hockey, but the trip to Tanzania was clearly the highlight of the winter. A year earlier, Re/Max Results had helped build a children’s center in the impoverished mountain village of Pasua. This year the focus was opening a new primary school there. The next project is a secondary school, for which the organization is raising funds in order to buy land and start construction.

Eider also spent seven days hiking up and down Mount Kilimanjaro (the highest peak in Africa) and four days on a safari, where he saw elephants, rhinos, giraffes and more.

“We saw two lion kills the first day,” he said. “It was like watching the National Geographic channel live.”

He was grateful for the conditioning provided by skating, because the mountain climb was not for the faint-hearted.

“The mountain climb would relate mostly to hockey and athletics, with a lot of training, preparing and planning,” Eider said. “It is all it’s cracked up to be. It was hard, challenging, extremely rewarding.

“You start off in a rainforest, which was something else. At higher elevations there is no vegetation or animal life. It was just as mentally challenging as it was physical. Six days up and one day down; I think my legs were burning more on the way down. Hockey is a great conditioner for climbing mountains; strong legs and core, endurance. I fared very well on the mountain. When we reached the summit it was amazing. The whole trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”


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