Nov. 30, 2006
By Elliot Olshansky
Cory Schneider and John Curry play their home games less than five miles apart along
Obviously, they play for fierce rivals - Schneider for Boston College, Curry for Boston University - and will be at opposite ends of the ice Friday night (8 p.m. ET, CSTV) when the teams do battle for the first time since a 5-0 Eagles rout in the Northeast Regional final of the NCAA Tournament. However, the differences between Curry and Schneider run much further back than their arrival on
Schneider, a native of Marblehead, Mass., grew up around New England's hockey culture, less than 20 miles out of Boston, aware of the traditions from the Beanpot on down. Curry is the outsider, hailing from
Schneider came to BC in the fall of 2004 as a can't-miss prospect, having been drafted in the first round (26th overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. At that time, Curry was entering his sophomore season at BU, and had played all of 310 seconds as a walk-on freshman, with Stephan Siewic taking up most of the playing time that didn't go to senior Sean Fields.
"It's really weird to think about," Curry said. "If you'd told me, five years ago, when I was trying to get into a Division I school, nevermind a scholarship opportunity at a big school and a starting job, I wouldn't have thought I'd be here. Looking at him at that same point, he was highly touted, being drafted in the first round. Everyone had heard about Cory Schneider."
Even their styles are different.
"We play very different styles," Schneider said. "He likes to be real aggressive and come out of the net pretty hard, and I usually like to stay in the net and use my size to my advantage."
For all of their differences between the two, they do have one very important thing in common: their excellence.
"I think, positionally, they're two outstanding goaltenders," said
That "great goaltending" from Schneider and Curry was particularly on display in the 2005-06 season, when the two seemed to split just about every goaltending honor that there was to be had.
In February, at the 2006 Beanpot, Curry backstopped the Terriers to the title, their 27th in 54 years of the tournament, but it was Schneider who walked away with the Eberly Trophy as the top goaltender in the tournament, stopping 61 of the 66 shots he faced for a .924 save percentage.
In March, when the Hockey East awards were announced, Schneider won the goaltending award, having led the league with a .932 save percentage and 1.96 goals-against average in league games. However, Schneider was the Second Team Hockey East All-Star, and Curry made the First Team. Curry was also the winning goaltender when the Terriers and Eagles met in the Hockey East title game, but Schneider posted a shutout when the teams met one week later for the right to go to the Frozen Four.
Then, in April, on the eve of BC's national championship game against
"Last year, we were very competitive back and forth," Schneider said. "He got some awards, I got some awards. Overall, I think the goalies in the nets for the BU-BC series make it something special, because you know you're going to get a great defensive battle every time.
Each keeper is certainly aware of who his counterpart in that "great defensive battle" is.
"Clearly, when you play against a goalie like Curry, you have to watch the saves he makes," Schneider said. "It doesn't seem like he has to make a lot of saves, but that the ones he makes are very timely and big saves that keep his team in the game. You know that you can't have an off night. You can't let any soft goals in, because he's not going to, and you have to come up with a big save when he does to keep it even.
"It's fun. You don't let it get in your head, but it does make you play a little more focused."
"Obviously, you're aware of the other goalie making saves," Curry said, "but as far as thinking about who's outplaying who, you really don't like to get into that too much. There may be a little of that that goes on. It adds a little bit more intensity: you want to do a little better, play a little better, but other than that, you really can't focus on their goalie, because he has nothing to do with how you play."
Still, this season will be the last that Curry and Schneider play against each other at BU and BC. Whether the Canucks sign Schneider this summer is up in the air, but Curry will graduate, and the Eagles will be none too sad to see him go.
"We'll be happy to see Curry graduate," Schneider said, "because he's played very well against us the past two years. I'm sure [Brett] Bennett and [Karson] Gillespie are very good goalies and I'm sure they won't make it any easier on us."
But there will be something missing when these two are no longer facing each other in the nets as these two rivals go at it.
"You have to tip your cap to him," Schneider said of Curry, "because he's worked hard. He's earned every single second he's gotten on the ice. It's a great success story. Being a goalie, it's great to watch something like that happen."
"It's pretty cool that it's considered a rivalry between me and him at this point," Curry said, "mainly because it's BU-BC. Four or five years ago, you wouldn't have thought that it would be."
It is, though, and it will be again this weekend, for one of the last times.