, Salem, MA

September 25, 2013

Schneider shining in New Jersey; Kreider looks to stick with Rangers

By Phil Stacey
Sports editor

---- — A quick update on our North Shore guys playing pro hockey and who are currently in training camps:

A dramatic change of scenery, from the Pacific Northwest of Vancouver to the industrial East Coast of Newark, New Jersey has done nothing to dim Cory Schneider’s rising star among National Hockey League goaltenders.

Traded from the only NHL team he had ever known, the Vancouver Canucks, to the New Jersey Devils at this summer’s NHL Entry Draft, Schneider has made his new employers extremely happy with his play thus far.

Schneider played two periods of the Devils’ first exhibition game against the New York Rangers and didn’t allow a goal, being named the game’s No. 1 star in a 2-1 win. He then pitched a shutout in his first full outing, a 3-0 whitewashing of the New York Islanders in Brooklyn, and last night Schneider allowed only a late goal in a 2-1 triumph over the Philadelphia Flyers.

The 27-year-old Schneider, who may wrestle more playing time away from 41-year-old Devils legend Marty Brodeur in the nets than originally perceived, has allowed just one goal on 70 shots thus far in the exhibition season, covering eight full periods.

The Devils begin the 2013-14 regular season a week from tomorrow on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then play their home opener the following night against the Islanders. Schneider and his mates make their lone trip to Boston on Saturday, Oct. 26 for a 7 p.m. tilt.

The last time we saw Chris Kreider, he and the New York Rangers were skating off the TD Garden ice in late May after being defeated by the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The former first round pick had scored in overtime of Game 4 in that series to extend it to a fifth game.

Now the Boxford native and winger is in in his first pro training camp with the Rangers; he jumped immediately from Boston College to the NHL playoffs when he made his debut in the spring of 2012, and the truncated season of a year ago didn’t allow for a ‘full’ training camp. He is hoping to stick with the Rangers directly out of camp.

The 22-year-old Kreider, one of 16 forwards still on the Rangers roster (they’ll likely demote 2 or 3), was in the lineup last night in Edmonton as the Blueshirts faced off against the Oilers in exhibition action. He has skated with, among others, veteran stars Rick Nash and Brad Richards as his linemates.

Across the country, former St. John’s Prep star John McCarthy is trying to stick with the San Jose Sharks. The 27-year-old forward, who can play center or wing, is in a battle for one of the team’s third or fourth wing spots with some of the organization’s younger prospects as well as fellow veterans such as Matt Pelech and Bracken Kearns (the latter two whom McCarthy skated with on the fourth line last night against Vancouver in exhibition play).

McCarthy, who had scored in the Sharks’ 3-2 exhibition opener against Vancouver last week, has played in 51 NHL games over three seasons, with two goals and two assists. The former Boston University captain spent all of last season with San Jose’s American Hockey League team in Worcester, recording 9-16-25 numbers in 65 games. He also signed a two-year deal, with this season reportedly a one-way contract, last year, so he should be a good bet to remain with San Jose.

Salem native Will O’Neill, 25, has begun his second full season in the AHL with the St. John’s Ice Caps up in Newfoundland. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound defenseman, whose NHL rights belong to the Winnipeg Jets, had three goals and 18 assists in 59 games a year ago for St. John’s and should see an increase in playing time this winter.

Ryan Bourque, who like Kreider is a Boxford native with the New York Rangers, was sent to the team’s AHL club, the Hartford Wolfpack, last week. Bourque played for the team (then known as the Connecticut Whale) last season.

You may recall Bourque’s older brother skating left wing on the Bruins’ third line at the start of last season; now, Chris Bourque is playing professionally in Russia. Wearing No. 91, Bourque has been skating the wing for Ak Bars Kazan of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The 27-year-old, who has one goal in six games thus far, is one of just two Americans on the roster, along with former NHLer Tim Stapleton.