When he first arrived at Andover as a new Lower in 2001, Cory Schneider ’04 had no clue that he would go on to become one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New Jersey Devils. After posting the NHL’s fifth-best save percentage for the 2014-2015 regular season, Schneider is forging a strong career at the professional level.
“When I came [to Andover], I wasn’t even thinking about playing college hockey. I came here to get the best education I could and play a better level of hockey,” Schneider said.
In his time at Andover, Schneider quickly rose to prominence as the best goalie in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference. During his Upper year, he only allowed 37 goals on a whopping 632 shots to finish the season with a .941 save percentage.
Schneider learned many skills at Andover that have became applicable to his professional hockey career. He said, “You do your growing up [at Andover] as a teenager in your adolescent years. You learn about tradition and respect and discipline – things like that where when you’re a professional hockey player you have to exhibit all those things. Being at Andover, it was a good foundation to know how to handle yourself around other people and how you’re supposed to act.”
As a Senior, Schneider captained Andover to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council semifinals where the team fell to eventual champions Avon Old Farms, whose goalie was current Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
“In retrospect, that ended up being pretty cool. I’ve met [Quick] a few times, and I’ve gotten to know him a little bit. We haven’t crossed paths too often, but I remember that they were a pretty good team and he was a great goalie,” added Schneider.
In high school, when he was not busy securing shutouts for Andover, Schneider represented the United States in international tournaments – further establishing himself as a future prospect. He won the 2003 U18 Junior World Cup the summer before his Senior year, starting in Team USA’s 3-2 win against Russia in the gold medal game.
That spring, Schneider competed in the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World U18 Championships held in Belarus, finishing with a silver medal after losing 3-2 to Russia in the title game. That year, Schneider was named the David Peterson Goalie of the Year by USA Hockey for leading the team to two medals during the 2003-2004 season.
At Andover, Schneider showed that he was a man of many talents off the ice. Besides playing two years of Varsity Baseball, the Andover graduate put his education before anything else. In 2004, the Boston Bruins awarded him with the John Carlton Memorial Trophy, a trophy given every year to high school seniors from eastern Massachusetts who “combine exceptional hockey skills with academic excellence.”
After being drafted 26th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Schneider opted to continue his education and played hockey at Boston College (BC) instead of going to Canada to prepare for his NHL career. At BC, Schneider made two NCAA finals appearances and helped BC win two Hockey East championships. He currently holds the school record for single-season shutouts after tallying eight his Sophomore year.
Choosing to give up his senior year of college in favor of turning professional, Schneider made his first appearance for the Canucks in the 2008-2009 season. After five years with inconsistent playing time as Vancouver’s backup, however, Schneider was traded to the New Jersey Devils for the 2013-2014 season where he eased into his role as the team’s starting goaltender.
Playing 45 games in his first year with the Devils, Schneider finished with a .921 save percentage. Despite facing more shots in his second year, Schneider improved his performance with a .925 save percentage.
With seven years of experience playing in the NHL, Schneider says that the time management skills he learned in his time at Andover have helped him perform exceptionally after graduating.
Schneider explained, “I’ve always told people that when I got to college, college was almost easy because you have more free time so you get more accomplished. I really felt that I was able to become more efficient and detail-oriented in my time at Andover.”
When asked what advice he would give to Andover students looking to play professional sports, Schneider said, “If that’s your goal and that’s what you want to do at this age, then you’ve got to put everything into it because it’s a long journey, and you’ve got to put a lot of work into it. But, at the same time, understand that [Andover] is a great place for a lot of other things, and make sure you open your mind to everything else that’s available here.”
In the midst of a three-year playoff drought, Schneider and the Devils will look to clinch a playoff berth in the 2015-2016 season.