He’s very calm in the net. He never gets phased … never gets rattled. - Jordan Sigalet on Nick Schneider
CALGARY, AB -- Count back 365 days, and a lot has changed in the life of goaltender Nick Schneider.
And by a lot, he means everything.
“Everything has changed,” said Schneider, one of five goaltenders at Calgary Flames development camp last week. “This time last year I didn’t have a camp invite or anything like that. Things kind of worked out. I just try to work hard and get some more opportunities and try to show what I can do.”
And it hasn’t always been easy.
This time last year, the now 18-year-old with professional experience under his belt was still licking his wounds after going unplucked at the 2015 NHL Draft, and unapproached to attend any prospect or development camp around the National Hockey League.
It wasn’t too unlike the feeling of going unselected in the Western Hockey League’s Bantam Draft some two years prior.
Schneider, who tends twine for the Medicine Hat Tigers, has managed to make both work. Well.
“You just have to cling to the hope that a team is going to give you a chance and I was lucky Calgary was the team that gave me the chance last September,” he said. “I just try to make the most of the opportunities I get.
“I thought I’d go to a rookie camp but it just never came. I got contacted around mid-July about the camp in September. It was definitely an exciting time. You want to get a camp but you just never know being a free agent like that. I’m just happy that it’s all kind of worked out but there is still a lot of work to do.”
That opportunity for Schneider came in the form of an invite to the Young Stars Classic in Penticton last fall.
He parlayed a third-wheel appearance alongside established Flames prospects Jon Gillies and Mason McDonald into a lengthy camp stay when a rash of injuries and illness put Calgary at a shortage in net.
Skating in three consecutive sessions -- nearly four hours of work -- Schneider returned to his Tigers will contract in tow.
“Last year he came in and he was on a try-out,” Flames goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet said. “We had some injuries and he got a lot more ice at main camp. He played well in scrimmages at main camp and he didn’t look out of place at all. He seemed like a high character kid, great work ethic and was the kind to only get better. I think he got looked over in the draft that year simply because he didn’t play a lot of games.”
He’s no longer overlooked.
Not to the Flames anyway.
And though the numbers in Medicine Hat weren’t particularly flattering, Schneider’s play was.
A 21-26-1 record with a 3.62 GAA and .896 save percentage earned him the opportunity to join the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League to close out his 2015-16 season.
Schneider made the most of it, logging 536 minutes over nine games.
“I tried to stay calm, obviously,” he said. “Being there you see some of the guys like you’re playing (Brian) McGrattan and guys like that … Peter Budaj was pretty awesome seeing him there at the other end of the rink.
“I think a little adrenaline but at the same time you just have to think you’ve played hockey your whole life and you want to keep playing and showing what you can do and keep moving up the levels and the ranks.
“I’d say for the first part and then you just kind of settle into it.”
As he has in the WHL.
As he has in Calgary.
From undrafted, to pro hockey.
“He’s very calm in the net. He never gets phased … never gets rattled,” Sigalet said. “He was the backbone of that team. He needed to stand on his head to get some wins there. He saw a lot of pucks and a lot of chances.
“Down the road that will make him better. He had another strong camp. He’s come in a lot stronger. He’s put on the muscle he needs to do. Everything is textbook about his game and really sound and really patient and calm.”