New Stingers Stud Defenceman Carl Neill “Something to Look Out For”
Hockey Player Looking to Make an Immediate Impact In His First Season
Concordia’s newest defenseman may be new to the school, but he’s no stranger to the Stingers’ coaching staff.
Taken in the fifth round of the National Hockey League draft by the Vancouver Canucks in 2015, Carl Neill gained a reputation for being a good two-way defender in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for five seasons before joining the Stingers this year.
“From the start of the 2016-17 season, Carl was a number one target for us among defensemen,” said Stingers head scout Justin Shemie. “We kept in touch with Carl throughout the entire 2016-17 season to show our strong interest in having him join our program.”
The 21-year old was courted by programs across Canada. With his skill set, it is not hard to see why.
“I think I’m a two way defenseman. I’m pretty solid defensively and I can chip in offensively as well. That’s how I like to see myself,” explained Neill.
Neill certainly did more than just chip in offensively throughout his junior career. In 131 games over the last two seasons, he put up 119 points, a strong output, particularly for a defenseman as capable in his own zone, as Neill is.
Already, Neill’s new teammates are seeing his talent translate into strong performances in the preseason.
“You’d expect it from a guy coming from an NHL camp, he’s got that experience under his belt. He was pretty good in the QMJHL, so I expect no less, but so far I think he’s exceeded expectations,” noted Stingers captain Philippe Hudon.
“[He’s] something to look out for. He doesn’t wow you with dazzling plays but he’s that type of guy that’s going to anchor our defensive core. He’s exceptional in that way,” continued Hudon.
That impression extends past Neill’s teammates to his coaching and scouting staff as well.
“He is responsible defensively, but also has high offensive upside,” said Shemie “He is a player that can contribute in all situations, on the powerplay, penalty kill and is a player that can be trusted in the final minutes of a tight game.”
According to Stingers’ head coach Marc-Andre Element, one of the best parts about having the former Sherbrooke Phoenix captain on the team is Neill’s qualities as a leader and as a person. The Concordia head coach knows quite a bit about this as he spent the last year speaking with and recruiting Neill to the team.
“It’s really important for us to have good leaders, good people and he’s just an amazing person and this is what we want in our program,” he said.
As happy as the team is to have him, the road goes both ways for Neill who is enjoying his new school as much off the ice. With a team that he’s already gelling well with and a school environment that he’s been happy with since the start, Neill has no regrets about his choice.
“I think overall it’s just a good fit in terms of hockey, in terms of schooling,” said Neill, who studies at the John Molson School of Business. “When you’re at this stage of your life, you want to make sure you’re in a good educational establishment as well. It’s Just a good overall fit.”
On a young team hungry for a stronger finish than last season, Neill’s goals are simple. In particular, he would like to be a “difference maker,” who will make his mark on the defensive end as well as on offence.
That is exactly what the team expects from Neill. The hope is that he can be a positive force for the team right out of the gate this season.
“I see him having an immediate impact for our team, playing big minutes, [making] the players around him better,” said Shemie, whose optimism for Neill is certainly shared by Element.
“He’s going to be an offensive defenseman. He’s going to be the guy who leads the power play, he’s going to be the quarterback,” said Element. “I’m pretty sure he’s going to be one of the top defenseman in the league.”
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