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LIKE A SPONGE

Western Michigan grad Corey Schueneman left college with both a degree and invaluable life lessons

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

In four short years at Western Michigan, Corey Schueneman learned more than he ever thought possible.

He left donning a dress and mortarboard, a rolodex of lifelong friends, and the ultimate keepsake as a result of his classroom efforts and all-night studies - a degree in sales and business marketing.

But none of it compares to what he learned at the rink.

Away from the ice.

"Everyone knows about his resume," Schueneman said of his coach, longtime NHL bench boss Andy Murray. "He's a great teacher - the best teacher.

"He's been everywhere.

"Philly, Winnipeg, L.A., St. Louis… and I'm sure I'm missing a few.

"Twenty years in the game at the highest level. How lucky am I? That's the kind of guy you listen to."

Indeed, Schueneman did miss one - an assistant-coaching role with the Minnesota North Stars from 1990-92 - but his recollection of Murray's remarkable coaching career isn't any less impressive.

And yes, after more than two decades guiding the game's greatest players, Murray is now plying his trade at the college level, schooling the minds of the sport's elite up-and-comers.

But most importantly, he's become a life coach, too.

"Everyone you talk to, they all have so much respect for what he's done in the game and for the kind of person he is," Schueneman, a smooth-skating, puck-moving defenceman said. "He's compassionate, caring, but he'll push you, too. It's a great balance.

"Obviously I took plenty away from my experience as a player there, but it's the off-ice stuff that sticks with me the most. How to be a good guy, a good person, a good friend, being on time to everything, polite to everyone you meet.

"Above everything, Andy wanted us to be a good person in the community and a good role model for the younger generation.

"That's the kind of guy he is."

 

 

Schueneman, who finished with a GPA north of 3.5, was a four-time National Collegiate Hockey Conference Academic All-Conference, a four-time NCHC Scholar Athlete, and was Western Michigan's nominee for the NCHC Senior Scholar Athlete of the Year this past campaign.

Undrafted, the Milford, Mich., native used that same, sandpapery endurance he learned in the classroom and turned that into a sparkplug.

First, he finished up his career as a Bronco with 21 points (3G, 18A) in 37 games, for a four-year total of 82 points (14G, 68A) in 144 career contests.

Then, as a result, he signed a one-year contract with the Flames' AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, late last year and will return this fall for a full tour of duty.

Best of all, he already has a major milestone out of the way.

"That was an amazing moment," Schueneman said of his first pro tally - rolling out from behind the net to the bottom of the far circle and sniping top shelf on Manitoba Moose goalie Eric Comrie as part of a 6-2 victory.

In all, he appeared in a half-dozen AHL tilts down the stretch, meaning those rookie pro jitters are now firmly in the rearview.

"The goal every year is to grow in one way or another," Schueneman said. "Over the past five, six years, to go from the USHL to Western, to captain of that team, and now, the professional level, is all I can ask for.

"This next season is a big one for me, obviously. It's a chance to really prove myself. I'm 23 now, so I know the importance of making the most of this opportunity. I want to show the Heat - and the Flames - that they were right to take a chance on me, and that I can be a difference maker out there.

"Long term.

"It starts here at Development Camp. Be a sponge, soak up as much as you can from the coaching staff, trainers and everyone around you.

"Because every day is a chance to learn something new."

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