Neil playing with the Oswego Lakers.
CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Kenneth Neil is arguably one of the greatest hockey players developed from the Clarenville system. After playing abroad for years, now, Neil will now be tackling the next step of his impressive career overseas in Waldkraiburg, Germany.
Neil grew up playing with the local area minor hockey organization, the Clarenville Caribous.
“I think growing up in a small town, it teaches you to love the game. It's not like playing in a major city centre,” Neil told The Packet.
In addition to local minor hockey games, the forward was a standout in the Newfoundland & Labrador Major Midget League with the TriPen Frost Midget AAA team. In two seasons, he recorded 73 points in 53 games before leaving to continue his hockey career on the mainland.
After a one-year performance with the Ontario Hockey Academy Midget AAA, the next three seasons Neil spent were in Nepean, Ont. with the Nepean Raiders — an affiliate to the Ottawa 67s, who play in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL).
Neil shined in his time with the Raiders. In three years, he recorded over 200 points in 180 games, winning the CCHL championship in the 2011-12 season and was named a CCHL Third All-Star Team in his last stretch with the team.
This experience all brought him to play with the Oswego State Lakers in New York.
The Lakers play in division three of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In four years, Neil recorded 122 points in 102 games, while also being put into a leadership role being named the captain of the team.
He was named Oswego State Male Athlete of the Week four times, State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) player and rookie of the week, received the Academic Award of Excellence in 2015, and this past year named to the All-SUNYAC First Team and ACHA Third-Team All-American.
“The last four years at Oswego has probably been the best four years of my life,” said Neil. “Everything about that place was awesome. College hockey was a lot different, but it teaches you to become a complete player. I was honoured this past season to have the captaincy.”
His time in North America has come to an end, now he will be joining the Waldkraiburg Lions in Germany.
This was a decision which Neil said was a no-brainer.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Europe and play hockey. Being a smaller guy, I feel like I could have more success on a bigger ice surface.”
Going into his rookie season, he says he’s looking to make a significant impact.
“I hold myself to a pretty high standard, so as far as expectations go, I want to be at the top of the leagues for scoring. That's probably one of the stronger parts of my game.”
Neil added that winning never gets old, so a league championship in his first season would be “pretty sweet”.