Sarah Connors Praises the Canucks

Cory Schneider: the only Canuck player who Bruins Bloggers are willing to praise.

Several week ago the Canucks defeated the undisciplined Boston Bruins 4-3, largely thanks to the punk antics of Brad Marchand. One of our favorite Bruins bloggers is Sarah Connors, who made a bet with Cam Charron prior to that game. The loser of the bet had to write a post extolling the virtues of the opposite team. Sure it was harder to get Connors to pay up than it is to get Tim Thomas to fill out a census form, but no matter, here she is talking about her respect for perennial rival: Cory Schneider.

Hello, Canucks Nation! I’m coming to you today as penance for losing a bet to one of your finest writers, and although it’s taken me several weeks to get over the loss compose myself enough to write punch enough Swedes in the face to sate my anger at losing get free from being too busy at work to write a piece telling you all how great your team is (like you don’t already know, honestly Cam why do I need to do this again? /hate), here I am, fulfilling my side of the bet. Look how awesome I, a Bruins fan, actually am.

Please don’t hurt me.

Anyways, I’m not here to talk about numbers, or scoring chances, or Fensi or Corwick numbers or whatever you kids are basing your team’s awesomeness on these days. No, I’m here to talk about something much nearer and dearer to my heart: College hockey.

When it was announced that Cory Schneider was starting the game against the Bruins, the majority of Bruins fans, as well as our lovely shit-stirring media, ripped the decision apart. “Luongo can’t win in Boston! Luongo sucks! What even is this! Why can’t we have our Stanley Cup Finals Epic Rematch of Epic Awesomeness ™ the way we want it! I am wicked mad about this! Grunt, Argh!”

In a nutshell, there was a lot of disappointment. And a lot of people chose not to see the flip side of this decision. If you put this game in a vacuum and completely remove the last-year hate factor, it’s a regular season game, cross-conference, and your backup goaltender, who is actually pretty damn good, is FROM the city the Canucks are playing against. It’s the equivalent of the New Jersey Devils giving goaltender and St. Louis native Mike McKenna the start when they played their lone game against the Blues last year. It’s a nice gesture to Schneider as well as a nod of confidence in his ability to play against a top tier team. For a very select few Bostonians, however, the chance to see Schneider on Garden ice again was a bittersweet one. See, I went to Boston University. My freshman year at BU? 2004-2005. Coincidentally, that was also Schneider’s first year at Boston University’s greatest rival, Boston College. (Which should actually be called Chestnut Hill College, since it’s technically not even within Boston proper. BC sucks, etc etc etc.) Schneider and I are similar in that our freshman year, we didn’t see much of the other school. I went to no hockey games, and he saw no ice time against Boston University.

For the following two years, Schneider went 5-5-1 against Boston University, which seems even. Conversely, John Curry, aka Jesus Curry, the Boston University starter, went 6-5-0 against Boston College. Close, it seems like. Really close. They played every game of those two seasons against each other. In 2007, we never anticipated that five years down the road we’d still be able to antagonize the ginger goalie. Who knew the Bruins and the Canucks would ever hate each other this much? Who cared? We were invested in our team, our winning team, and nothing else mattered.

Monday, February 12, 2007. Valentine’s Day crap is hanging in the storefront window of every retail outlet in Boston, and it’s cold out, wicked cold. A well-played Christmas gift for my dad had me pushing my way onto a Green Line train to the TD Banknorth Garden; two days before I’d taken the same train into downtown, $100 in hand, to buy two tickets to that best of college hockey tournaments, the Beanpot. The finals, even. Who needs money for mushy crap like Valentine’s Day when you’ve got family, friends, and the best goalie outside of the NHL? We had it made. Curry was on. (We dreamed huge in those days; Curry had, in fact, allowed seven goals to Schneider’s six in the three previous meetings between the two schools that season.) I met my dad at North Station, which is attached to/under the Garden, and in we went; after watching Northeastern and Harvard fans file out following their (presumably boring) consolation match (sidenote: the tickets to the Beanpot include a seat to both games on the day of the finals; no one goes to the consolation games when it’s a BC/BU final), we took our seats next to the student section. For the next three hours, we proceeded to drink beer and laugh at the chants and songs from the pep band, while watching one of the best games I’ve ever seen. These two teams don’t play a polite game of hockey, not even close. They’re rough and tumble, true rivals, hate fueled by only being separated by five miles and one line of traintracks. Look at the boxscore for this Beanpot final game. Fourteen penalties, evenly split between both sides. (While you’re at it, check out the NHL-level talent between these two schools. Not much for BU in this season, but what’s there for BC is about how many guys eventually make it to the NHL per each of these teams per year.)

Boston University lead for most of the game, but Boston College would never roll over and die. Not in a rivalry game, least of all for the bragging rights that come with a Beanpot. There is a banner, about at center ice in the TD Garden, that hangs to commemorate the Beanpot tournament, and the year’s winning team gets to attach their school colors to the banner. Who wants to see their rival’s name on a banner like that every time they go to a Bruins game or event? Neither of these schools. And so, Boston College tallied a late goal, and off it went to overtime tied at 1. Boston University eventually won, and happily my dad and I hugged and parted ways, glad that we’d been able to catcall Schneider’s name, doubly glad that we’d gotten to honor My Favorite Hockey Player John Jesus Curry at the end of the day.

The cherry on top? My train, which has an endpoint of a stop actually called “Boston College,” had a conductor with an awesome sense of humor. “This train will be running to….Boston University!” he said to our train full of happy kids in scarlet and white, as we cheered raucously. (bonus video, fun if you’ve never seen a train full of drunk people sing a song in PERFECT coordination.) Two months later, Cory Schneider and the BC Eagles rolled through the Hockey East quarterfinals, destroying Northeastern before meeting my school in the semis. And so we went into it, gung-ho about our chances — only to be rolled 6-2 by Schneider and his skaters. Ugly. Disgusting.

John Curry’s last game.

The Eagles went all the way to the NCAA finals, losing to Wisconsin in St. Louis. Schneider went from there to the AHL, and then to the NHL, and now here he is today, backing up one of the best goaltenders in the league with his own solid numbers. And so back they came to Boston, two weeks ago, the stage where Schneider has annihilated rivals that play a similar angry game. Cory Schneider’s Alma Mater won not only the Beanpot, but the Hockey East tournament in 2011. That disgusting maroon and gold hangs from both college hockey banners in the Garden. As a BU fan, it fills me with hate — not all-consuming hate, but the healthy kind, the kind that makes rivalries beautiful and passionate, that makes me desire for my Terriers to win their Beanpot games next week and the week after, for them to win Hockey East in March. But those banners are also the reason I’m glad Schneider started, and not Luongo. Because forget last year’s finals. Move on. Move on, and enjoy the fact that Cory Schneider, bane of some Bostonians and pride of many more, got to be a success in his home building, underneath the banners of the school that built the basis for his professional career.

After all, how many NHLers can say they’ve had the chance to do that?