Finally, 1,617 days after he was first drafted by the Vancouver Canucks, 22-year-old Cory Schneider did what he has dreamed of since he was old enough to skate: play in a National Hockey League regular season game.
The Marbleheader made his NHL debut in goal for the Canucks Saturday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, stopping 28 of 31 shots as Vancouver fell to the host Flames, 3-1.
"I felt good," said Schneider after touching down with his team in Columbus, Ohio last night, where they'll face the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight. "Obviously I would have rather gotten the win for our team. But for me, being my first game, I thought I did pretty well. (Calgary) had some good chances, and I thought I was able to keep my team in the game."
Schneider played so well, in fact, that he was awarded the game's No. 3 star in his first NHL contest. He did so before 19,289 fans at the Saddledome, and millions of fans across Canada and the U.S. watching on Hockey Night in Canada or the NHL Network.
Having been called up to Vancouver from the AHL's Manitoba Moose last weekend after Canucks star goaltender Roberto Luongo went down with an injury, Schneider had practiced with the big club all week but hadn't been told anything about actually playing in a game. He watched Curtis Sanford start home games against Detroit (a win) and Calgary (a loss) before head coach Alain Vigneault informed him during Saturday's morning skate in Calgary that he'd be starting that night.
"I knew I couldn't change what got me to this point; I just had to be more alert of who was around me and make those adjustments," said the 6-foot-2 redhead. "Being around the team for a whole week and practicing with them helped, too; I felt like I was up to speed on the shooters and aware of their tendencies, especially when they're in tight.