Schneider Steps Up in Calder Cup Playoffs

Schneider Steps Up in Calder Cup Playoffs

May 5, 2022

By Cory Wright (@WrightsWay)


While most of the Bridgeport Islanders were too young to remember the last time the franchise won a playoff round, the same can’t be said for Cory Schneider.


The 36-year-old netminder would have been 17 back in 2003, one year away from being drafted by the Vancouver Canucks. To put it in perspective, Aatu Raty, who scored the series-clinching goal in Wednesday’s Game 2 victory over the Providence Bruins, was just five months old. While the young gun garnered plenty of social media buzz, it was an old hand in Schneider who laid the foundation for Bridgeport’s win.


Schneider was spectacular in the Islanders’ two-game sweep over the Bruins, stopping 75-of-77 shots over the two games, both of which were 2-1 overtime wins. Schneider tied his AHL-career high with 46 saves in Game 1.


“We’ve shown a lot of resiliency throughout the year that we’re not out of any game or we’ve found ways to come back and ways to win,” Schneider said. “If I’m able to keep us in it long enough, we generally find a way and we have these last two games. That’s just my role right now.”


The Marblehead, MA, native followed Game 1 with another inspired effort in Game 2 vs Providence. Schneider’s highlight of the night was a scrambling save on his back against Justin Brazeau in the second period, in what the goaltender described as his best street hockey-Dominik Hasek impression. He also had a key save against Marc McLaughlin on a point-blank shorthanded chance in the first period and another on Jack Studnicka in overtime. Bridgeport captain Seth Helgeson made a sliding block on Samuel Asselin to return the favor for his goaltender.


“That’s just this time of year these games that's the kind of effort and the battle level you have to have especially even for a goalie,” Schneider said. “He's got to find a way to make save and that's all I'm trying to do right now.”


Schneider’s cool-under-pressure composure is a product of his veteran status on a young team. The 2004 first-round pick has 410 NHL regular season games under his belt between the Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders, as well as 191 AHL games with the Manitoba Moose, Binghamton Devils and Bridgeport. He’s experienced the highs and lows of professional hockey and this is far from his first playoff experience.


Schneider has 36 games of AHL playoff experience and went all the way to the 2009 Calder Cup Final with the Moose. He also has 14 games of NHL playoff experience, most recently with New Jersey in 2018.


“I’ve been fortunate to have playoff experience at this level early in my career and at the NHL level a bit,” Schneider said. “At this stage of my career it’s just a lot of fun. It’s fun to watch our team, our young guys, get this experience and learn how to play in these circumstances. I’m just trying to feed off my experience and the times that I’ve played in these moments and just trying to be that steadying influence back there for our guys, make the saves I need to and keep them in the game.”


Schneider praised the group’s resiliency for finding a way in a pair of tight games. The same can be said of the veteran, whose 2021-22 season has been a testament to his perseverance and dedication to the game.


“It’s not only how great he is playing right now, but just the way he approaches the game and the way he approaches practice and his leadership in the locker room,” Bridgeport Head Coach Brent Thompson said. “He’s been through everything as far as going to the Stanley Cup Final and the pressures, he can really help this group. He means a lot to this group and quite honestly guys lean on him and it’s been a great mix.”


After signing with the Islanders ahead of the 2020-21 season, Schneider spent a majority of the season on the team’s taxi squad, not seeing any NHL game action while only making two starts in Bridgeport. He didn’t grumble about the lack of playing time, instead using the time to get healthy and make adjustments to his game.


That patience paid off as Schneider made his first NHL start since March 6, 2020, making 27 saves in a 4-3 win over the Devils.


While the win was a feel-good story at the NHL level, Schneider’s been a key piece for Bridgeport down the stretch. The netminder rattled off a 7-1-2 stretch to end Bridgeport’s regular season – fittingly starting with a shutout win over Providence – and has been a leader for the team heading into the postseason.


As the Islanders get ready for a best-of-five series against Charlotte, which begins in Bridgeport on May 10, Schneider has given his team confidence.


“You get goaltending like that, we’ll have a chance against anyone,” Michael Dal Colle said.

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