BOSTON — It had been 1,757 days — St. Patrick's Day 2007, to be exact — since Cory Schneider had been the starting goaltender for a hockey game at the TD Garden.
But when he skated out to his post between the pipes wearing the white, green and blue road uniform of the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon, the reception Schneider received was about 100 times chillier than when he was tending goal for Boston College in the Hockey East championship game here five years ago.
That's why the end result was ultimately so satisfying for him.
Oh, you never would have known it by watching him when the final buzzer went off Saturday: a quick pump of goalie stick, nothing more, before his teammates came over to congratulate him after his 36 saves allowed Vancouver to knock off the Boston Bruins, 4-3, in a nasty, vitriol-filled rematch of last year's Stanley Cup finalists.
Even afterward, as he removed the tools of his trade in the visitors locker room before a swarm of media descended upon him like locusts, the 25-year-old Marblehead native didn't seem the least bit fazed in guiding his team to victory in what was immediately being hailed as the hands-down best regular season game in the NHL this season.
"As a college player, I didn't know if I would ever get the chance to play here again. So to be able to come back and have this opportunity in front of a lot of friends and family and people at home watching, it was really cool — and I guess even more special because we don't come here very often," said Schneider, who had roughly 15 family members and friends on hand, including his parents, Rich and Sue, and his older brother, Geoff. "I'm glad we got the win."