NEWARK, NJ - When the New Jersey Devils season came to a close in early April, netminder Cory Schneider didn't quite pack away his equipment for the summer. Instead, Schneider will continue his hockey season as a member of Team USA at the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia.
"It's exciting," Schneider said from Prudential Center on Friday. "You never know how many opportunities you'll get to play for your country and it looks like we have a pretty good lineup going over, so that's going to be exciting."
Video: RAW | Cory Schneider on World Championship
Schneider heard from Team USA close to the end of the Devils regular season. During the last week of the season, the Team USA brass and Devils general manager Ray Shero, who also holds a position as part of the U.S. Men's National Team Advisory Group, gauged Schneider's interest.
The Marblehead, Massachusetts native took some time to consider his options but ultimately decided to join his national team for the first time since 2016.
"The way the season ended, I was really starting to feel good about my game and get into a rhythm and, unfortunately, the season finished," Schneider said. "This is a way for me to extend my season, push playing hockey further into the summer and hopefully that way I won't have to try and find my game as much towards the end of the summer and into training camp."
Schneider is one of 23 players set to leave for Mannheim, Germany on Saturday to begin pre-tournament play ahead of the Worlds. From there, Team USA will head to Slovakia to begin the tournament with a matchup against the home team on May 10. Schneider is one of three goaltenders on the United States roster and by far the most experienced.
The 33-year-old will compete for the net with 23-year-old Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) and 19-year-old Cayden Primeau, who recently signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens. Combined, Demko and Primeau have just 10 games of NHL experience. Schneider has 396 under his belt, not including post-season play.
"That was me in 2007," Schneider recalled. "I was a junior in college and I went over to Russia for the World Championship as the third guy. I didn't play but it was a really good experience to be able to rub elbows with NHL players and get a feel for what the culture is like and the protocol. There is some etiquette involved, and just being around grown-men playing the game is an eye-opener.
"It will be fun working with two younger guys, similar to Mackenzie [in New Jersey]," Schneider added. "It's great to see young goalies coming into the game, you're always looking for the next guy and the next wave of goalies and it seems like there's a lot of [U.S.] guys emerging now."
Schneider isn't the only Devil to be headed to the World Championship, his Devils head coach will be his Team USA assistant coach with John Hynes behind the bench and Devils head equipment manager Chris 'Frosty' Scoppetto will hold the same role with the national team. On the other side of the ice, Schneider knows he'll also be lining up against current NHL teammates. He points to a particular matchup of interest: USA versus Canada - the final game for both teams before the start of the elimination rounds. Mackenzie Blackwood and Damon Severson are both on Canada's roster, as is former Devil and good friend, Adam Henrique.
"[Canada] always has a good roster," Schneider said. "They always have guys who want to play, with a lot of options to choose from. You know they're going to ice a good team and they play with a lot of pride. The Canadians are always fiercely proud of playing internationally and it means a lot to them. So, I think for us, we want to be able to match that and prove that the U.S. is one of the hockey powers and that we belong in the discussions with Canada, Sweden and Russia. It's always fun to play them and have those bragging rights."
Canada and the U.S. face off on May 21st at 2:15 p.m. EST.