Stuck In Repeats
Schneider Sees Last Year's Final-Game Nightmare Play Out Again
by Matt Conyers/CHN Staff Writer
ST. LOUIS Over the past two months, much has been written about junior netminder Cory Schneider's undergarments — more specifically, the t-shirt worn under his heavy set of goalie pads and Boston College sweater.
The shirt, an item taken from last year's Frozen Four Championship where the Eagles suffered an excruciating defeat against Wisconsin, was meant to remind Schneider of what he felt at that exact moment the Badgers sent their pads flying and began celebrating. It was meant to motivate him and push him. It was meant to serve as a reminder of what could never happen again.
Saturday, while wearing that well-worn shirt, Cory saw it all happen again.
From the too-late and too-frantic rally attempt to the jubilant cheers coming from his foe's bench, it was all too familiar for Schneider.
"It's just a hollow feeling, I don't know what to say," said Schneider. "Two years in a row is really tough to swallow. I thought we had the team to do it this year but it just didn't go our way."
Like some twisted real-life version of the film "Memento," Schneider was watching his worst nightmare replay itself, and this time in slow motion. Heavy underdog Michigan State did not celebrate once, but twice. Due to a mistimed celebration after an empty-net goal, the Spartans had to collect all their equipment up and have the final 1.7 seconds play out. Then directly after that, what else did they do but, celebrating again.
"It's kind of a helpless feeling," said Schneider. "We thought this was the year with how we were playing down the stretch. But it just wasn't meant to be. Not much you can do about it.
"It doesn't matter how many times you get there or hard you're playing. It just shows you how hard it is to win championships."
Unwilling to have the process take any longer, head coach Jerry York told the refs to call it.
"They began celebrating so we might as well get it over," said Schneider. "We didn't really pay attention to the second one."
The moment had to be unimaginably tough for Schneider, who had not only put his team in perfect position to win but played his heart out once again in the National Championship. For the second consecutive year Schneider let in just two goals and lost the title. Combined, Schneider had 53 saves in two games.
His prize? Two title game losses and no third banner for the Eagles.
"You try and learn from them," said Schneider, who has been highly-regarded as a major prospect and first-round NHL pick from an early age. "I don't know what else to say. There are some big games and some bad games but somebody has got to win. You just take the losses and ... well, I don't know how you can turn them into positives. You just have to learn from them and try and get better."
To the uneducated, two national championship defeats are knocks against one's game. To those that play alongside Schneider and have seen the kid from Marblehead, Mass., play, there would be no one else they would ask to suit up between the pipes.
"With Cory in net, he's obviously unbelievable," said Filangieri. "He's the best goalie I've ever seen and the best goalie I've ever played with. I have all the confidence in the world with him."
Throughout most of the game, it appeared as if Schneider finally his title in hand. In a typical Schneider performance, the junior netminder was making the hard saves and scooping up every loose puck. Not to mention he had luck on his side after a couple weird bounces avoided the mesh.
"We were feeling pretty well, we were staying out of the box and we thought if we keep playing the way we were we would be alright," said Schneider.
But the Eagles' luck changed. In fact, the Eagles' two-month run of good luck end at exactly 9:52 of the third period. On the play, Justin Abdelkader, the Frozen Four's Most Outstanding Player, tied up Joe Rooney and allowed speedy Tim Kennedy a partial breakaway on Schneider.
"The kid kind of broke in there with a semi-breakaway and [Brian] Boyle kind of had his stick there coming in," said Schneider. "You never know what is going to happen because he might not have got good wood on it because he was tied up. But somehow he fought through at the last second and get the shot over my pad."
After nearly 50 minutes of having the advantage, the Eagles were knotted up.
"That first shift they really came out hard and missed that open net, after that I think we sat back on our heels a bit and weren't ready for it," said Schneider about the third period start for Michigan State . "There's no excuse for that. We don't really know what happened."
"They are very resilient and don't go away, that's probably the toughest team we've played all year," said Schneider.
Schneider was right, they didn't go away. All Thursday the same feeling echoed out of the Maine locker room — this team didn't go away. And at 19:41 with everyone in the house believing the game was going to overtime, the Spartans did it again.
"I saw a guy behind the net and we know that they like to throw it in the middle and see what happens," said Schneider. "He threw it in-between his legs and I tried to reach out real quick to try and get a piece of it. That second where I reached out kind of cost me; that second leg reach out kind of cost me, he just put the shot right under my arm."
"Just not picking up a guy in front is all it takes."
When all the celebrating was done, all that was left for Schneider and his blue liners in front of them was the same exact feeling as last year.
"Both games, this year and last year defensively we believed that we were really strong but the teams, Wisconsin and Michigan State this year, found ways to win and score goals," said Filangieri. "They weren't lucky, they were hard-earned goals. They were playoff goals."
At the same time, Schneider had another formidable foe pitted against him.
"Obviously Jeff Lerg played great, he kept them in the game," said Schneider MSU's goalie, who had 29 saves. "He made some huge saves and that is what you got to do when you're down a goal."
Despite questions about his future at BC — he may decide to go pro in the next few weeks— Schneider is clearly not eager to talk about moving on or the serious case of painful deju vu he just experienced.
"I just haven't really thought about it yet," said Schneider. "I'm not thinking about much right now."