The Goal Keeper
 
 

Nov. 11, 2004

By Matt Roman The Heights

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (U-WIRE) - The first summer after high school is a time to relax. Get a cushy job as a lifeguard or a waiter to earn a little money before college. Finely tune your golf swing and your tennis serve. Maybe even take a sip of your first beer with Dad in front of the TV.

Not for Cory Schneider, though. While everyone else was bumming around town, bouncing from house party to house party, Cory decided to trade in his Coronas for koruna, the national currency of Slovakia, and spend the summer winning a gold medal as the goaltender of the United States Under-18 National team.

"It was nothing like I have ever played before," said Schneider about his experience. "It was kind of scary coming in out of nowhere and just joining the team and playing against some of the better kids in the world. But I think it helped my game out a lot, and I learned a lot from it."
 

 

Schneider's experience overseas, which included a trip to Belarus last spring where he led the U.S. team to a silver medal at the World Championships, not only got him some frequent flyer miles but also the full attention of NHL scouts. Going into the 2004 NHL draft, Schneider was ranked as the second-best American goalie behind Michigan's Al Montoya, the same goalie who would have been in the Frozen Four a year ago if it hadn't been for Ben Eaves' heroic overtime goal. That all led up to draft day on June 26, when Schneider's name was called before he even had time to finish his free appetizer. With the 26th overall pick, Schneider was now the property of the Vancouver Canucks.

So, to sum up, Schneider traveled the globe, won a gold and a silver medal, and was drafted by the NHL. All before he had casted his first vote.

This was all a precursor to two Fridays ago, when Schneider skated onto Kelley Rink to make the second start of his collegiate career, the first in front of the BC faithful. The game was against perennial powerhouse North Dakota and the crowd was packed to capacity, but after sitting though an NHL draft and leading his country to two medals, there wasn't too much that could rattle Schneider.

"I was a little nervous when I first got out there," said Schneider. "Watching the game is one thing, but when you're out there, you are in control. It was a great atmosphere, so after a while I kind of calmed down."

OK, so he's human. But it would take a lot to convince opposing teams and coaches of that. Since Schneider decided hockey was his sport of choice, he has been absolutely dominant between the pipes.

He wasn't always a goalie, though. Until about 10 years old, Schneider switched between goalie and forward, before finally deciding he was best suited in goal.

"I probably just wasn't a good enough skater," said Schneider.

OK, so he's humble. But that didn't in any way stop him from succeeding. In fact, it is that attitude that has led him to where he is today.

A product of Marblehead, Mass., Schneider wowed the townies until his ninth grade year, when he made the decision to leave home and play for Phillips Andover, a prep school in Andover, Mass. with a more prestigious hockey team. He played there for three years, being voted the team captain in his senior season. In that final year, Schneider amassed a 17-5 record and saved 96 percent of the shots against him while leading his team to the New England Prep School semifinals.

After high school, Schneider was posed with yet another tough decision: go to college and hone his skills or go to the NHL or Canada to prepare for his career with the Canucks. But for Schneider, his decision was made long before the Canucks called his name in June, or even before he ever put on his first goalie pad. He was going to college.

"When I went to Andover, I wasn't really looking to play hockey. I was just there to play hockey while getting a good education ... education is a big part. I definitely wanted to stay in college because hockey's not going to last forever."

OK, so he's intelligent. Book smart enough to be awarded the John Carlton Memorial Trophy last year, which is awarded annually by the Boston Bruins to the Massachusetts high school senior who "combines exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence," and street smart enough to know that even though his entourage is screaming NHL all around him, he might want to have a backup plan to the NHL. Or, strike that, a number one plan to his backup plan, the NHL.

"He always puts everything in perspective," said Schneider's high school coach Dean Boylan Jr. "He is an extremely hard worker and to combine that with his leadership ... He is just a very extraordinary student athlete."

Schneider has greatly excelled in hockey and life, and what is most amazing is the amount of ease and poise he has done it with. He seems to know what to do and where to be before anything happens, both in life and on the ice. Everything hasn't gone perfect for Schneider, but he sure knows how to come up big when it matters the most.

So when North Dakota started surging two Friday's ago, closing a three-goal third-period lead to one with 12 minutes to play, Schneider clamped down. He deflected every shot that came his way and kept the Eagles a goal ahead until they were able to add an empty netter to clinch it.

OK, so Cory Schneider is talented. And clutch. And human. And humble. And intelligent.

And if there ever was a next big thing, he's it.


 
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