Sometimes a change of scenery is all that’s needed to provide a spark.
Since being traded from the Medicine Hat Tigers to the Hitmen last Friday, goaltender Nick Schneider has heard the sayings ‘fresh start’ and ‘second chance’ over and over again but to him, he’s just ready to prove he’s still got it.
After a rollercoaster 2016/17 season saw him lose his starting role with the Tigers, the Hitmen saw in him an opportunity to add depth to their crease and didn’t hesitate in acquiring the Leduc native, sending back a fourth-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft to acquire the netminder.
“Soon as I got the call I was really excited. Out of any team in the league this is the one I would’ve liked to been traded to,” Schneider said. “There are so many good things about it with being with the Flames and being close to home, I just can’t wait.”
The Flames prospect admits that it’s almost fitting and everything seems to be coming full circle, with being able to play in the same building as the NHL team that signed him as a free agent in 2015, and already likes what he has been hearing about the Hitmen.
It’ll be a changeup, switching sides from a solid central division rivalry, but make no mistake, Schneider is relishing the opportunity he has been given and focused on helping his new team compete for the Ed Chynoweth Cup come fall.
“Everyone speaks very highly of the organization and I’m just really excited, it’s a good opportunity for me personally, I want to win. Next year should be a fun year.” Schneider said. “I loved my time in Medicine Hat but nothing is better than a fresh start going into my overage year. I want to show what I can do and help the team win.”
And winning is something that he’s very familiar with.
Through the first-half of last season, Schneider piled up a league leading 25 wins, eventually ending the year with a 32-11 mark to go along with a 3.43 goals-against average and a 0.886 save percentage. Over the course of his four-year WHL career, he has racked up an impressive 76 wins.
Not only is the trade a chance for the soon to be 20-year-old to regain his form, but to also work more closely with Flames goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet and also get to work with Hitmen goaltending coach Jason LaBarbera for the first time.
“Getting to talk to Jordan more is going to be great, hearing what he has to say and getting in more conversations,” Schneider said. “I’ve talked to him (LaBarbera) a couple days ago and he sounds really knowledgeable and I can’t wait to work with both those guys more this upcoming year.”
It’s been quite the journey, and a junior career filled with different experiences for the goaltender, which includes playing time with the Flames affiliate team, the Stockton Heat, for nine games. Over the span of those games Schneider went 4-5, but viewed his time with the Heat as a valuable learning experience and a glimpse into what he can expect once his junior career comes to a close.
“It was a really cool experience,” Schneider said. “Getting to see what’s out there and see where you have to get to. How much further or how much closer you are. Seeing what’s all out there and put a target on where you want to be when you get to that level.”