The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are less than a year away and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team goalie debate continues to pick up steam.
The American logjam in net features at least five well-deserving goaltenders who can carry the USA torch: Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators), Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings) and Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils). And don’t forget John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks) and Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning), who performed so admirably during the 2013 IIHF World Championship.
It’s a good problem to have for Olympic GM David Poile and the rest of the management group that will select the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team.
Ever so humble, Schneider considers himself fortunate to even be in the conversation for a possible ticket to Sochi, Russia.
“If I am even considered it would be truly humbling and honoring,” said Schneider, who was traded to the Devils during the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
“It seems the U.S. is pretty deep in goal. You could pick any two or three, and I’m sure they would be in good hands.”
Schneider is coming off his first season as the bona fide No. 1 goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks.
The 27-year-old finished the season 17-9-4 with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Schneider also tied with Howard for the league lead with five shutouts, four of which came during a nine-game span.
“Cory has taken over this year, and playing as well as he has, he has given us a chance to win every night,” said fellow American Ryan Kesler. “He is a solid goalie. [The Olympics] is the same game, but obviously the skill is better and the teams are better. I think he has a really good chance.”
It may have taken longer than expected, but the fact that Schneider, the 26th overall selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, was able to unseat Canada’s 2010 gold-medal winning goaltender – Roberto Luongo – for Vancouver’s starting job should be a tell-tale sign of the Marblehead, Mass. native’s talent.
“It kind of seems like it’s taken forever, but it’s also happened pretty quickly,” Schneider said. “You’re in the minors, or you’re in college, you’re never sure what the future is going to hold or how long you’re going to be there for. To have an opportunity to come up and learn behind Roberto and sort of be brought along slowly was very important to me, and I learned a lot.”
Because of his methodical rise to the NHL level, Schneider developed a mental fortitude that began to take shape during his time at Boston College. Schneider, who led the Eagles to the NCAA National Championship Game in 2006 and ’07, said one of the most important aspects of being a BC Eagle was that you not only learn to grow as a hockey player, but as a person.
“Coach [Jerry] York and his staff focus more on you as a person,” Schneider said. “The three years I spent there I learned a lot about accountability, responsibility, being there for your teammates and others, and doing well in school.
“More than anything that’s what sticks with guys when they leave. They look back and say ‘I grew up and I matured a lot in my time at BC.’ ”
Schneider has more than matured since suiting up for Team USA at the 2006 World Junior Championships and winning the 2009 Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s Best Goaltender. He has since developed into one of the NHL’s most promising butterfly goaltenders with strong poise and an even better glove hand.
Schneider would relish the opportunity to represent Team USA in Sochi, Russia, but says he would be playing for much more than the red, white and blue.
“Anytime you represent your country it’s a tremendous honor, and you are sort of carrying the torch for every other guy that wants to be there or couldn’t be there,” Schneider said.
“I take a tremendous amount of pride in it, and it would be a once in a lifetime experience.”
Age: 11 | Morristown, Minn.
Reading through a list of Mikayla Bohner’s activities would leave one wondering where she finds the time. In addition to playing goalie in the Faribault (Minn.) Youth Hockey Association, Mikayla plays forward for her offseason team, the Ice Bucks. But it’s away from the rink that her schedule kicks into high gear. She plays travel soccer in the spring, summer and fall seasons. She recently completed her level 5 Red Cross Swimming training, and is working toward becoming a lifeguard. Mikayla also plays the violin and the piano, both of which require daily practice. As if that isn’t enough, she plays the clarinet in her elementary school band. She is active with a local Girl Scout troop, and acted in a school play last year. On top of it all she is a straight-A student at Divine Mercy Catholic School.