by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
Stacked against the rest of the goalies in the AHL, Manitoba’s Cory Schneider stands alone.
Tossed into a Moose practice, he’s just another face in the crowd.
Funny how that works. Good thing Schneider is the first one to laugh about it.
The second-year goaltender is 16-2-0 and leads the league with a 1.61 goals-against average and .940 save percentage for the North Division’s first-place team. Schneider has needed every glint of that sparkle to keep up in the Moose rotation.
Manitoba already had reliable vet Karl Goehring (2.59, .903). Then Vancouver demoted Curtis Sanford, who won his first two games with the Moose. With goaltending, three never goes into one very easily.
“It’s just all of us in a tough situation, but we’re all good guys,” Schneider said. “Whoever’s in the net, we’re going to be supportive. It’s more of a problem for coach (Scott) Arniel than anybody.”
Some of Schneider’s humility might come from his recent shot with Vancouver, a trial he readily admits he fell short on. In eight games, he went 2-4-1 with a 3.38 GAA and .877 save percentage. Schneider, a 2004 first-round pick, may be very close to NHL-ready, but those last couple of steps are the toughest.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener," he said. "I had some good games and some pretty bad games. They gave me a couple of chances to take the net and run with it, but I wasn’t able to deliver. I obviously have a lot to learn at that level. They are in a playoff race. They don’t have the luxury of letting me learn as I go.”
So Schneider’s education continues at the expense of the AHL’s shooters. Even in showcases, Schneider doesn’t give an inch. At the league’s All-Star Classic skills competition Jan. 25, Schneider set an AHL record with 18 stops on 19 shots to earn the Reebok Top Goaltender award.
When the competition returns to its fiercest level — the battle for playing time with Goehring and Sanford — Schneider figures to be just as tough.
“I’m not going to change anything just because another guy (Sanford) is here,” he said. “Every time you get the net in the game it’s incentive to own it and prove you should be playing. You could be the odd man out at any moment.”