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Goalie Schneider climbing the ladder to NHL status

Cory Schneider’s transition to professional life wasn’t smooth.

Cory Schneider’s transition to professional life wasn’t smooth. After losing back-to-back national titles with Boston College, Schneider embarked on his career with the Manitoba Moose — coached by Scott Arniel, the current coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets — in 2007-08.

Through his first 11 appearances, Schneider’s numbers were miserable. A 3-7-0 record, 3.69 goals against average and .872 save percentage ranked him among the worst in the league. Meanwhile, teammate Drew MacIntyre was posting wins and coach Arniel was getting fed up with the work ethic of the young Schneider.

“The big thing with Cory is he had great success at the college level and obviously was a first-round draft pick and had lots of hype, lots of talk about him being the next up-and-coming top-end goalie,” Arniel said.

“He came to us in the AHL and I think he kind of had disrespect for the league. I think he looked at it like everything would come easy.”

Arniel said Schneider wasn’t taking practice seriously enough and wasn’t competing for pucks during games — a worrying development at the time. To turn around the bad start to his career, Schneider got a little bit of luck and a lot of good coaching.

After letting in three goals on eight shots and getting pulled in a December game, Arniel’s concerns about his goalie hit a breaking point. With MacIntyre on recall to the Canucks, Arniel had little choice but to turn back to Schneider for a game the following night. However, before he made that decision, he pulled Schneider aside and held him accountable.

“I called him into the office and we had a real good talk about the game,” Arniel said. “I told him about all those things; I didn’t like the way he was approaching being a professional. I threw him back in the net the next night, and it was one of his better games.”

Schneider finished the year with a 21-12-2 record, a .916 save percentage and a 2.28 GAA, earning rookie of the month honours in March. The following year, Schneider’s GAA dipped to 2.04 as he led the Moose to their first and only 50-win season and top spot in the league. He carried Manitoba to the Calder Cup final where they lost, but earned the “Baz” Bastien Award as the AHL’s top goalie.

After one more season together in 2009-10, on an offensively deficient team that was defeated in the opening round of the post-season, Arniel and Schneider graduated to the NHL. For Arniel, it was a much-deserved first attempt to lead an NHL bench; for Schneider, it was the next step up the ladder to full-time NHLer status — albeit with a lot of work ahead in Roberto Luongo’s shadow to finally become that No. 1 goalie he’s been touted as for so long.

But at least this time he’s prepared for the challenge.

 
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