Often times when you see that someone has played NCAA Division I for a top program, you have high expectations of them as individuals and of what they do on the ice. Michael Neville does more than meet expectations, he exceeds them.
On paper, Neville reads as an experienced offensive line mate. Since his debut with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads, he has not stopped working. Currently, Neville has skated 88 games (with an additional 16 playoff appearances that gave him one goal and two assists), where he posted 16 goals and 34 assists. If his stats show any trends, this season will surely be nothing short of impactful.
Much like his time at Michigan Tech, Neville places a large importance on the quality of people he finds himself surrounded by. He says that at Tech, “the coaching staff was unreal.” Throughout his four years, Neville grew immensely in large part due to the quality of the coaching staff.
When asked what he brings to the Blades locker room, Neville is hesitantly humble answering he believes himself to be a multifaceted player with leadership abilities. He is not wrong. Neville shoots left and is often labeled as a left wing, yet his position changes almost every game when the initial line up for the night goes out.
His team first mentality is easy to pick up on as he answers the idea of moving him around as going “wherever they need me… Ralphy (Head Coach Brad Ralph) knows I’m a versatile player that can shut down and play [the] top end of lines.” Without hearing anything else, it makes complete sense why both Coach Ralph and Assistant Coach Kallechy would use him to their full advantage.
Neville has reached an elite level in his career. He put in countless years to get where he is in the game and, of course, did so with the help of coaches, parents, and his own work ethic. Once asked if there was a person that had a major impact, he immediately said his dad. He clarified what his dad has given him goes beyond hockey. Neville’s dad likes to remind him that “hockey has a funny way of mirroring life. What you put in is what you get out. You can’t cheat the game and you can’t cheat life.”
Whether it be down the line with a college education that he had always wanted to pursue or at an even higher level of hockey than the ECHL, this is not the last that you will see of Neville. His work ethic and love for the game is only the beginning. You might want to watch if he skates past because big things will follow.