Hockey's Cory Schneider Shares Midseason Thoughts
Dec. 14, 2005
Sophomore goaltender Cory Schneider and the Boston College hockey team (9-4-1, 8-2-1) enters the midseason break tied for first place in Hockey East. Schneider, who hails from Marblehead, Mass., will represent the United States as a member of the 2006 Junior National Team in Vancouver, British Columbia, from Dec. 26, 2005 until Jan. 5, 2006.
Q: Heading into the midseason break, give us your assessment of the team's performance so far.
A: I think that we've gotten off to a really good start so far this year. At the beginning of the year, considering all the freshmen and young guys we had coming in and all the veterans like [Pat] Eaves, [Ryan] Shannon and [Andrew] Alberts who had left, I don't think anyone expected us to be doing this well so far in the first half. With that being said, I think that there's a lot we can work on--like special teams and team defense. There are so many things that we can continue to work on. It's kind of exciting that we can get that much better than where we are now.
Q: This team has 10 freshmen and 14 underclassmen who play regularly. What challenges does such a young roster present for a team?
A: With all the young guys, you're going to have a lot of growing pains. It's just freshmen learning how to the play the game, and they're going to make rookie mistakes. Even with some of the sophomores, we're still learning too, because it's only our second year. I think it forces the sophomores into an upperclassmen role. So, that puts some more responsibility and leadership on us. It's harder for the seniors and juniors, too, because they have to help lead all these younger guys. They've done a great job so far, being so few of them.
Q: Is there any one player or one thing that has surprised you this season?
A: I think the player who has stood out the most so far has been Chris Collins. You've always seen it in him. You've seen the talent and flashes of brilliances over the past three years. The puck just hasn't been going in the net for him. But, this year he has really put it all together. He's doing what he's been capable of all along. That's been great for the team, and that's great for him to really establish himself as that kind of player.
A: They're both great kids, first off. They're really positive in the locker room--they're never negative or sour about not playing. They are really glad to be there, and they work hard on the ice everyday. I think that definitely projects to the other guys in the locker room. They're both big kids, at 6-foot-2 and up. They take up a lot of the net and have good movement. Pearce is quick on the butterfly, and Reasoner is good with his glove. They're both playing really well in practice. If either of them were to play in a game, we'd be fine. I think they'd do a great job.
Q: You currently rank among Hockey East leaders with a 1.72 goals against average in league games. That's a great credit to you and to your teammates playing in front of you. Talk about the defensemen.
A: Having four freshmen on the defense at the beginning of the year seemed to be a little cause for concern. People didn't know what the defense was going to look like after last year's team. The freshmen kind of struggled early on - I think we all did as a team. [Peter] Harrold and [Mike] Brennan have really kept them together. Harrold is logging 30 minutes of ice every night, which is ridiculous. He never makes many mistakes, and it's so good to have him out there. The same goes for Brennan - he's very physical and is pretty sure in his own zone. It's good to have those two guys out there. I think that the freshmen have gotten better with every game. [Anthony] Aiello wasn't playing at first, and now he's a fixture in the lineup. [Tim] Filangieri is markedly better - the same goes for [Tim] Kunes and [Brett] Motherwell. I think that they've really started to figure it out. We could really have a very good team defense if they keep it up.
Q: How hard is it for you to adjust to a largely new defensive group - and each of their individual traits/styles? Last year, you played with a veteran group; this year you have mostly new - and young - faces in front of you.
A: It's not necessarily bad. Last year's group was a great group. They were familiar with each other, and they were smart, skilled players. It's hard to replace that. With the young guys this year, they bring a lot of energy and an eagerness to learn. They want to learn as much as they can. For me, having had all the seniors last year, they kind of took control and did what they were comfortable with. This year, it's forced me to be a little more vocal. We're still working on our communication and what we'd like to do with the puck - defensemen and myself. I think as we work throughout the year, that's going to get a lot better.
Q: As a freshman last season, you alternated net duties with Matti Kaltiainen. What did you learn from playing with Matti for one year?
A: I learned how to handle myself in big games. We're a top program and we're going to be playing in a lot of big games. I think that early on in the season, the coaches kind of sheltered me from some of those big games--games like at Maine and UNH and BU. I was able to watch Matti and see how he handled and dealt with it. They kind of let me ease in with teams that I could get some confidence against. I think it was great having him in front of me to make that transition from high school to college. He was a great goalie, too, so it's never bad having two good goalies. It was sad to see him go.
Q: This year, you've played every minute of every game. How have you adjusted to this arrangement? Are there any advantages or disadvantages to playing on back-to-back nights?
A: I'm still getting used to playing on back-to-back nights. I've done it three or four times this year. I worked hard over the summer, working out and getting stronger so that my body could withstand 35 to 40 games over the season. That way I can try to avoid any injuries, like groins and hamstrings and stuff. I think that's paid off, as I've stayed relatively healthy. It's nice knowing that you're going to play every game. The butterflies are a little bit less. You know that you're going to be in there, so you're a little more relaxed. You can get yourself into a little groove, and if you start playing well you can keep it going - you don't have to wait a whole week to play in another game. The disadvantages are that you do get a little more tired, and it starts to wear on you. You can get soreness and get achy and tired. It's worked out pretty well so far. I just enjoy playing in every game.
Q: As a goaltender, what becomes your comfort zone in terms of shots on goal? For example, some might argue that seeing 10 to 15 shots would be advantageous because there's less work on your end. Others assert that facing 30 to 40 shots is better, as you're more likely to be "in the zone." What range is most ideal for you?
A: Some people don't understand why it's harder to face like 10 or 15 shots instead of 40 or 45. As I found last year, where I'd only face 16 or 17 shots some nights, the fewer shots can make it that much harder to stay focused and stay in the game. Your mind kind of wanders if you're not getting the puck down in your end. You tend to stiffen up and get out of the game, almost. Then, here they come on a breakaway and you have to be at the top of your game. If you're seeing shots continually, then you're getting a good sweat and you're tracking the puck and you're staying active. Optimally, I'd probably face like 25 or 30 shots. It keeps you in the game, but it doesn't overwork you.
Q: Last winter, you were a member of the 2005 U.S. Junior National Team. This season, you are one of six returning players on the team's roster. What did you enjoy most about your experiences on the U.S. Junior National Team?
A: Just seeing the players of that caliber - I've never really been on a team with kids that good. Last year, they kind of brought me in on a backup role to Al Montoya. I was there to learn and to see what it was all about. It was just preparation for this year. I might have been a little bit wide-eyed, not expecting what was there. But it was pretty tremendous to see kids of that skill and to be on the ice with them everyday. I'm really looking forward to getting back there this year and playing with those guys again.
Q: Having played as a backup to Michigan goaltender Al Montoya in last year's games, what will it be like for you to be the primary goaltender this year?
A: Coach hasn't said who is going to start yet, but hopefully I'm the guy. I hope to just be able to take over from last year. I had one game last year that didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped. I think that this year I'm much more prepared and much more ready for what to expect. I think that last year I didn't really know what to expect coming in, and I got caught off guard. So, this year I'm ready to prove to people that last year was a fluke and that we have a pretty good chance of medaling. Hopefully, we can turn it around this year.
Q: You were selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the 2004 NHL Draft. When the U.S. Junior National Team plays in Vancouver at the end of the month, you'll be making your Vancouver debut, of sorts. How excited are you to play before the fans of the city that drafted you?
A: It's going to be pretty interesting. I'm pretty excited about it, and I've heard a lot of great things about the city. I've never actually been there, so that will be a first for me. I think the Canucks are pretty much the only team in town for them, so they get pretty riled up and excited about the Canucks. I know there's probably going to be a lot of positive and negative cheering. If I falter, there's probably going to be a lot of `Who's this kid?' kind of thing. Hopefully, I can go out there, be myself and not pay attention to the outside pressure. I just want to focus on doing well for my team. If I do well there, then hopefully the fans will just take care of themselves and I won't have to worry about them.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being playing at Boston College?
A: I love being in Boston. The Hockey East is a great league with a lot of good teams. There's never a pushover game so you have to be ready every night. Just being at BC, it attracts some of the best players in the country. So getting to play with kids like [Brian] Boyle and Harrold and Collins and younger kids like [Nathan] Gerbe and [Brock] Bradford and [Dan] Bertram - I think that's just a unique opportunity that you get when you come to play at BC as well as receiving a first-class education. I think it's the best combination of school and hockey in the country, which is a pretty good accomplishment.
Q: Is there anything special or different about the Boston College hockey program that people don't know?
A: One thing I found out here is the tradition. When you come in here, there's really this aura about the past year and that great players both recently and from years ago still have a lot of effect here - players like [Brian] Gionta and [Jeff] Farkas and [Marty] Reasoner. They were showing us highlight tapes of those guys when they went on their runs to the Frozen Four, four years in a row. To see what they accomplished, see how they went about their business and to try and model yourself after them is just amazing. The coaches are very high on them, and they're very good role models to learn from. By watching those guys and seeing how they did it, that is pretty unique.
Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: You're pretty much always with the guys from the team, wherever you go. So, I live with all the other sophomores so we're pretty much always together. But, I try to keep up with my work, and we like to go out and have fun with the guys. There's also time for relaxing when you're not practicing. When you get away from the rink, it's nice to be able to forget about hockey for a little while and focus on other things. It just helps to recharge your batteries.
- interview conducted by senior Alex Timiraos