Standing 6-foot-5, Jordan Schneider was usually the one delivering crushing hits to remember. But then the St. Michael’s Buzzers
defenceman fell victim to a hit himself. He fell hard.
It happened in a game a year ago: an inadvertent hockey stick to the chin.
Schneider would spend the majority of last season recovering from a concussion.
He suffered a setback when trying to make a comeback for the playoff run in which the Buzzers won the OJHL championship, and spent the summer in recovery.
A local resident and son of former NHLer Mathieu Schneider, in December he returned to the Buzzer lineup with a bang, bringing his old physicality and confidence and scoring two goals in two straight games.
But there were times during his recovery he questioned his future in hockey.
“A head injury is pretty serious,” Schneider reflected in an interview. “It’s your life you’re dealing with.
“I was skeptical — scared it was going to happen again. That’s why I took so much time off. Not only do you want to heal, but mentally you’re in it tough. Your mind plays tricks on you.”
There were times, he said, he worried about how another hit might impact his ability to return to school, let alone hockey.
Head coach Rich Ricci empathized with Schneider’s situation, and tried to be as supportive as possible during his recovery.
“It’s not an easy thing to be out for a year-plus,” Ricci said. “His self-confidence and self-worth, all those come into play.
“At the end of the day you got to try to be there in a different role as a coach or teammate, try to encourage him along. And if they do make the decision that they don’t want to resume play, you can’t really fault them.”
The turning point for Schneider came midsummer, when he was physically able to go on a road trip again. He visited the University of Michigan.
“Once I went down, immediately all the thoughts [of playing hockey] were in my head and I just wanted to get back and on with the experience, and move on to the next level,” Schneider recalled. “You’re used to a certain lifestyle and I couldn’t picture myself not playing hockey.
“It’s hard to just completely walk away.”
The extra time was to Schneider’s benefit. When he returned he played as he had before the concussion.
The two goals in two straight games is a rare scoring pace for him, seeing he is normally a stay-at-home defender, but Ricci feels he has the ability to put up points.
“He does have a heavy shot and has the ability to score some goals, put up some points,” Ricci said. “I think, with his maturity now and what-not [scoring] would come to the forefront.”
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