AHL Once Again Proves Its Worth; Helps Schneider Return To Form

ALBANY, NY – Once again the importance and quality of the American Hockey League was on display during the Albany Devils practice Monday at Knickerbacker Ice Arena. New Jersey Devils netminder and NHL All-Star Cory Schneider was assigned to Albany Monday for conditioning as he recovers from a right-knee, Grade 1 MCL Sprain.

With Albany and Newark separated by approximately 150 miles, Schneider was able to make a day trip to the AHL practice.

“The convenience of being here, being able to get him down here and get him a full quality practice as opposed to just having some injured guys shoot on him in New Jersey, that was the thought behind it,” said Head Coach Rick Kowalsky. “Obviously our location and the ability to get him here just for the day is certainly convenient and beneficial for him.”

Schneider was injured on Mar. 4 at Dallas and could return to New Jersey’s lineup at some point this week. Prior to the injury, the 30-year-old was having a career season, posting a 26-23-6 record with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Monday’s practice was his first taste of the AHL since the 2009-10 campaign when he was a member of the Manitoba Moose. Schneider was quick to point out the influence the AHL had on his career and continues to have on the development of players.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the AHL,” he said. “I spent three years in Manitoba and I played about 150 games in the American League. I’m no stranger to what this league is about and how much it helps you as a player. I have all the time in the world for this league.”

Schneider’s time in the AHL spanned three seasons and he logged 136 games, producing an 84-45-5 record with a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage. He was chosen as the starting goaltender for PlanetUSA for the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic and won the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as AHL’s top netminder that same season.

It’s apparent the Massachusetts native is familiar with the AHL and he is comfortable with a lot of players on Albany’s roster. Monday’s practice featured six players who had been a teammate of Schneider’s at some point in New Jersey.

“We’ve had some guys up with us that have come back down and some guys I have played for in my career or against,” Schneider said. “I’m familiar with a lot of them. Some new faces or guys who you don’t know too well. It’s good to see them on the ice. It was a good practice. It was up tempo. They practice with pace and purpose, so that was great for me.

“Like I said: the American League is a great league. It’s a fun league where you have a lot of guys around your age striving for similar things. It seemed like it was a good locker room and everyone was very welcoming.”

While Schneider left practice and headed back to New Jersey, the A-Devils prepare for a 7 pm matchup against the Hartford Wolf Pack Tuesday at Times Union Center. Another AHL All-Star, Yann Danis, is expected to be between the pipes.