Prince Edward Islander brings speed and passion to the Prairies

Posted: January 18, 2013

By Jadon Frank

Morgan McNeill had to wait a semester before he could play for the Briercrest hockey team this year, but he hopes to make the most of his time during the stretch drive.

McNeill brings a wealth of experience to the hockey team having played Junior A hockey in Manitoba, PEI and Ontario before finding himself at Toronto’s Ryerson University in the CIS last season. He is excited to bring this high level talent to the young team this season.

“Playing in the CIS last year I was looking for more playing time,” the second year defenseman said. “The Ryerson Rams weren’t offering more time and Briercrest was. After looking at the school and seeing the small town feel, I felt it would be the right fit for me.”

That experience in Toronto impacted the way the McNeill looks at the world.

“If I could do anything to change the world it would be to help end poverty,” McNeill explained. “Having lived in Toronto, seeing homeless people all over the streets, it’s sad to see the people who have nothing.”

McNeill recognizes some unique characteristics on the team.

“We're so young and everyone is willing to learn,” McNeill said. “We have a few good players, but no real stars, so everyone understands that it's much more important for us to come together as a family! And we have a great goalie.”

The native of Days Corner, PEI has enjoyed the Briercrest experience overall.

“Having a chance to meet some wonderful people and enhance my network of friends across the country has been great,” McNeill said. “As a student my goal is to graduate from university. I'm not too sure what the future holds, but if hockey can continue I'd love for it to do so.”

Briercrest hockey head coach Dalton Stoltz is excited that McNeill decided to make the trek into the Prairies for this season.

“Morgan has a passion and love for the game that makes him a special player,” Stoltz said. “His speed and attention to defensive play makes him a coach’s dream on the blue line.”

The six-foot defenseman agrees with his coach’s assessment of his strengths.

“I believe my strengths would either be my skating or my leadership skills,” McNeill said. “I love being a leader, and trying to help the guys, while being open to learning from them as well. I want to grow as a hockey player, and a person, and I'm always willing to learn something new.”

The BA Humanities student, who is working towards a degree in English education, would like to continue playing hockey as long as possible, while also wanting to have an impact on youth.

“I hope to continue playing the game that has brought me so much,” the Maple Leafs and New York Yankees fan said. “But, it all comes to an end. We can't play forever and I know that. I hope to become a teacher, and help kids grow academically, all the while staying involved in the game of hockey as a coach or scout. I would like to open up a hockey agency to help kids achieve their goals in hockey. Get married and raise a happy and loving family with my wife.”

McNeill’s father has been an inspiration to him.

“My dad played hockey, had a chance to have a pro career and came home to work for the family,” McNeill said. “He works non-stop daily and I aspire to be like him. My mother and my siblings are tireless workers as well as the rest of my family.”