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Learning from adversity

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

Three missed opportunities have taught Schneider a lot about winning and losing

When it comes to losing in sports, the NFL’s Buffalo Bills have arguably suffered the most.

With no disrespect to the Chicago Cubs, the MLB franchise notorious for its century long title drought, the Bills lost four straight Super Bowls between 1991 and 1994.

Some were close, others blowouts, either way they all hurt the same for the players, the fans and the city and Vancouver Canucks prospect Cory Schneider can relate to their pain.

The 23-year-old puck stopper has already come up on the wrong end of championship games three times in his young hockey career. We’re not talking peewee playoffs or midget tournaments here either; Schneider has backstopped three teams to the biggest stage in both the NCAA and AHL.

In 2006 and 2007 Schneider was front and centre for Boston College leading the Terriers to back-to-back Frozen Four appearances, first as the underdog, then as the favorite.

“The first year we were almost dead in the water with a month to go and then all of the sudden we went on a run and made it all the way to the finals undermanned,” Schneider said.

“It just felt like we couldn't lose, then we finally did lose and it was crushing.

“The next year we had won 13 in a row heading in and obviously we were playing great, then we just had that one bad game when we needed a good one the most.”

That’s been the story of Schneider’s career thus far. Last year, as a member of the Manitoba Moose, the Massachusetts product was a nearly impenetrable fortress of shutout-itude, paving the way for the Moose to make their first appearance in the Calder Cup finals.

Manitoba won only one home game in the series and Schneider believes that was the difference to the Hershey Bears walking away as champions.

“Last year was a bit of a wash, they were a great team, we were a great team, they just took advantage of home ice and won in their building and we didn't. That was pretty much the series right there.”

Three championships, three missed opportunities. Instead of rocking more bling on his fingers than Lil Wayne and Snoop Dogg combined, Schneider is back to square one trying to climb the ladder again.

Schneider is determined to get back to the top. One rung at a time, armed with the invaluable experience he’s acquired and the motivation to finally hoist a championship trophy, he’s driven to succeed like few others currently battling for spots with the Canucks.

“It's hard to think about it, but I do. It's such a long season that you can't let it get to you, but winning a championship is the goal you're playing for and thinking about it does make you mentally stronger.

“I’ve realized that it's always a marathon not a sprint and that you've got to be good the entire year. Then when it comes to playoffs, that's really when you've got to bring it every night. I think I've learned that from this experience.”

While Schneider has sucked the positives out his situation like a famished mosquito, he’s done with losing – it’s so last year. To infinity and beyond, that’s where it’s at.

“It's obviously tough to lose and you never want to, but at the same time you find out that it's not the end of the world, there's going to be another day.

“You just have to build on it and get better from it and learn from it so that you don't have to dwell on it and let it haunt you the rest of your career. I'm proud of the teams I've played on and what I've accomplished, unfortunately I haven't achieved the ultimate goal yet but I'm hoping that going forward that will serve me and when the next chance comes around, I won't let it slip out of my hands.

“Those experiences definitely drive me to be better and work harder and just play in the moment, and like I said, grab that opportunity whenever it comes.”

The unique thing about Schneider’s situation is that despite batting zero when it comes to championships, it hasn’t tainted his image as one of the best up and coming goaltenders in hockey.

Schneider isn’t viewed as a choke artist and for good reason. He literally stood on his head for Boston College and was all that and a bag of chips for the Moose last season.

Great players make great plays and Schneider has stepped up, his lack of success is more a testament to just how hard winning a championship, regardless of the sport, really is.

“You see these teams get on runs and make it to the second round and that feels like such a grind, then to get all the way to the finals and play with that level of intensity into June when most people are at home or on vacation, it takes a lot of mental endurance. I’ll definitely be more prepared to handle it the next time around.”

Although the when has yet to be determined, there will be a next time for Schneider, and likely the Buffalo Bills as well.

For both, that time simply can’t arrive soon enough.

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