Braden Schneider describes day leading up to NHL debut, first career goal

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It took hyped Rangers prospect Braden Schneider less than 22 minutes of game time to bury his first NHL goal, giving Blueshirts fans plenty to be excited about when it comes to the 20-year-old defenseman.

The goal, which put New York ahead by two in an eventual 3-0 win, was an absolute best-case scenario for a young kid battling first-game nerves. Now, he has an unforgettable NHL debut to look back on, one that he couldn’t have dreamed up any better.

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“I don’t think I could,” Schneider said. “I thought our whole team had a really solid game, and [Igor] Shesterkin was unbelievable. I was just in the right place at the right time, and couldn’t have drawn it up any better myself.”

With less than 90 seconds gone by in the second period, Ryan Strome skated in on the right side of the goal and dropped a pass back for Schneider, who fired a wrist shot from between the circles and beat Adin Hill to put himself in the NHL scoring column for the first time.

“I’m very happy with how I played,” Schneider said. “I wanted to show that I can pay physical and can perform at this level, and I couldn’t have drawn it any better myself. But it’s one game, and I can’t get too high on myself. But I was very happy with how it went.”

It was quite the turnaround for Schneider, who battled nerves throughout Thursday before stepping onto the ice for his NHL debut. Once the opening faceoff was dropped, it was hard to detect and jitters from the former 19th overall pick.

“The whole day I was quite jittery,” Schneider said. “Couldn’t really sit still. My nap wasn’t too great. I came to the rink and same thing, I had nerves. I was just trying to stay in the moment. When I got on the ice for warmup, it came a little bit more real, and I don’t think it hit me until my first shift of the game. I feel like after that I kind of settled in and got a little bit more confident as the game went on.”

Schneider wanted to show that he belonged, and that the Rangers were right to trade up two spots to grab him in the 2020 NHL Draft. It will take more time to determine whether New York won big with selecting Schneider, but he gave the team one hell of a first impression.

“There were times where I was a little loose or hesitant when I was closing on guys, but overall, I was very happy with how I was able to adjust,” Schneider said.

Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1

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