Another local hockey player will be heading to the NCAA in the near future.
Portage's own Max Neill has committed to play Division 1 hockey in the NCAA next season with Lindenwood University. Neill is in his final season of Junior Hockey and has been playing well, which he says led to this opportunity.
"We were coming down a hot stretch, and I started to get a couple of phone calls," says Neill. "After a couple of Zoom meetings, I was offered a scholarship to play in Lindenwood."
The forward is playing out his senior season in the North American Hockey League with the Minnesota Wilderness. Neill finished fourth on the team in scoring with 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points this season.
He says making this decision was more difficult than he thought it would be.
"It was tough honestly. At this point in the year, being 21 and in my last junior season, I had to make a decision," Neill explains. "I didn't have a whole bunch of options, but it was stressful."
Watch Now 🎥: Check out the #NAHL Plays of the Week for January 11-17 as seen on @MyHockeyTV and featuring:— NAHL (@NAHLHockey) January 19, 2021
5. Max Neill, @JohnstownHawks
4. Hudson Hodges, @theaustinbruins
3. Owen Parker, @NMIceWolves
2. Tyler Sedlak, @AmarilloBulls
1. Matt Vermaeten, @mudbugshockey pic.twitter.com/v8vLDplBt0
Neill notes it's great to have his next few years now figured out but adds he's trying not to look too far ahead at the moment.
"It's definitely exciting, but I'm still focused on our playoff run here in Minnesota," Neill continues. "We're up against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, out in Alaska. So, first and foremost, we're trying to win this series and move on. But it's good to have a place for next year, and it was nice to be able to get that worry off my back."
The Wilderness find themselves down 2-0 in a best-of-five series against the Ice Dogs, with the do-or-die Game 3 coming to Minnesota on Friday. Neill has an assist through the first two games, and despite the tough position they are in, he still has faith in this group. He notes they have a lot of heart.
Neill will be fighting to keep his final Junior Hockey season alive on April 29 for Game 3. Regardless of the outcome, Neill plans to head to Lindenwood for the 2022-23 campaign.