If you’re a fan of hockey, then you know that skill and talent are not the only things that determine whether or not a player has what it takes to succeed on the ice. There are other factors at play, such as strategy, teamwork, and mental toughness.
That’s why Will O’Neill is such an interesting figure in the world of hockey.
“I’ve always had a passion for the game,” says O’Neill. “It’s something I’ve been doing since I was a kid.”
O’Neill has been one of the top prospects in his league for years now, with fans and analysts alike singing his praises. But despite all this attention, many people still wonder whether he has what it takes to make it to the big leagues.
“Hockey is a tough sport,” admits O’Neill. “You have to be willing to put in the work and face challenges head-on. But I’m ready for the next level, and I think I can prove myself.”
So will O’Neill be able to make the transition to professional hockey? The answer may surprise you. Follow along as we take a closer look at his journey, his strengths, and his weaknesses, and try to predict what the future holds for this talented young athlete.
Who is Will O Neill and What is His Hockey Background?
Early Life and Development
Will O’Neill was born on April 28th, 1988 in Salem, Massachusetts. As a young boy, he was an avid hockey player who would often play games of pickup with his friends. At the age of seven, he started playing organized ice hockey for his local youth league team. He was soon recognized as one of the most talented players on the team.
O’Neill’s skills continued to develop as he grew older. He played for many different teams during his youth hockey years, eventually earning himself a spot on the prestigious USA Hockey National Team Development Program. This program provides top-level training and competition opportunities to young players aspiring to compete at the highest levels of hockey.
College Hockey Career
After completing his time with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, O’Neill went on to play college hockey for the University of Maine. During his four-year career with the Black Bears, O’Neill established himself as one of the top defenseman in the NCAA, earning many accolades along the way.
In his junior season, O’Neill was named Second-Team All-American by both Inside College Hockey and the American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA). He also earned First-Team All-Hockey East honors that year. In his senior season, O’Neill once again received First-Team All-Hockey East honors and was chosen to the New England Division I All-Stars First Team.
O’Neill’s strong collegiate career led to him being selected 7th round, 210th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. He spent several seasons in the minor leagues before finally making his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets during the 2013-14 season. O’Neill later went on to play for the Buffalo Sabres and the Philadelphia Flyers organizations, where he earned a reputation as a strong two-way defenseman with great skating ability and offensive instincts.
“I think Will’s biggest strength is his puck-moving ability,” said Terry Murray, former head coach of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, when describing O’Neill’s playing style. “He can make that first pass out of the zone and get up into the play offensively.”
Today, Will O’Neill continues to play professionally in Europe, where he currently suits up for Leksands IF in the Swedish Hockey League. He remains dedicated to honing his skills as a hockey player and striving towards excellence both on and off the ice.
What Teams Has Will O Neill Played For?
Will O Neill began his professional career with the Providence Bruins, a team based in Rhode Island. He played for the Bruins during the 2011-12 and 2014-15 seasons as a defenseman, appearing in a total of 74 regular-season games.
St. John’s IceCaps
In 2015, O Neill signed with the St. John’s IceCaps, a Canadian hockey team affiliated with the Winnipeg Jets. During his first season with the IceCaps, he was named alternate captain and played in 67 games. The following year, the IceCaps moved to Winnipeg to become the Manitoba Moose and O Neill remained with the team until signing with the San Antonio Rampage in 2017.
O Neill had brief stints with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets throughout his career. In the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, he appeared in a total of nine games for the Jets. Although he did not spend much time with the NHL club, being a part of an NHL organization is always a great achievement for any hockey player.
San Antonio Rampage
Upon leaving the Manitoba Moose, O Neill signed with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League (AHL), a minor league affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. During the 2017-18 season, he was teammates with current NHL players Mikko Rantanen and Alexander Kerfoot. After retiring from playing professional hockey, O Neill took on a new role within the Rampage organization as Director of Player Development in 2020.
“I owe everything and am grateful to every person who helped me along the way – in management, team staffs, coaches, teammates, training staffs, etc. Every single one of them shaped me as a hockey player and more importantly as a person.” -Will O Neill
Will O Neill may not have had a lengthy career in the NHL, but he made significant contributions to several teams throughout the AHL. He was known for his leadership qualities on and off the ice, earning him alternate captain roles with both the St. John’s IceCaps and San Antonio Rampage. Despite retirement from playing professional hockey, he continues to give back to the sport through his work in player development.
What Are Will O Neill’s Strengths and Weaknesses on the Ice?
Will O’Neill is a skilled and experienced defenseman who brings numerous strengths to the ice. One of his greatest assets is his ability to move the puck with ease, effectively transitioning from defense to offense. He is also an excellent passer, making accurate and timely passes to his teammates up ice.
O’Neill has strong hockey IQ, allowing him to read plays and anticipate where the play is going. This provides him with the opportunity to use his mobility to get into position quickly and disrupt the opposing team’s offensive advances. His lateral movement allows him to cover passing lanes and block shots while keeping his opponents away from high-danger areas.
Furthermore, O’Neill exhibits great leadership qualities both on and off the ice. He is a natural communicator who is respected by his peers, coaches, and fans alike.
Despite possessing many exceptional skills on the ice, Will O’Neill does have weaknesses that need improvement. One such area is his physicality. While he possesses good size at 6’1” and 195 pounds, he could be more assertive in battling for pucks along the boards and clearing out space in front of the net. Improving his physical game would make him a harder player to play against and provide more defensive stability to his team.
Another weakness that O’Neill needs to address is his consistency. At times, he struggles with maintaining consistent performances throughout a game or season. Inconsistent performances can lead to missed opportunities or costly mistakes on the ice.
Overall Game Analysis
Will O’Neill is a highly skilled defenseman with some room for improvement. He brings elite-level abilities when it comes to his offensive and defensive skills, as well as his leadership. He is a mobile defenseman who displays great passing abilities, reads plays well, and has solid hockey IQ.
There are areas that need improvement such as physicality and consistency which come with more experience in different leagues. Nevertheless, O’Neill’s strengths outweigh his weaknesses and make him an important asset for any team he plays on. His versatility makes him capable of playing significant minutes at both ends of the ice and adds another element to any team’s playbook.
“Will provides you everything you need in a defenceman — puck movement, excellent skating ability and very good vision. We think it will be easy for our forwards to play off of him.” – Marlies head coach Greg Moore
What Are Some Memorable Moments in Will O Neill’s Hockey Career?
First Professional Goal
Will O Neill’s hockey career has been defined by his strong defensive play and leadership qualities. However, one of the most memorable moments early on in his professional career was scoring his first goal for the Worcester Sharks back in October 2012.
O Neill remembers the moment fondly, stating “I had a great chance to score earlier in that game but missed the net, so when I got another opportunity later on and found the back of the net, it was a huge weight off my shoulders.”
The goal kick-started his offensive contributions from the blue line as he finished that season with six goals and 24 assists.
One of the highlights of any professional athlete’s career is making the playoffs, and Will O Neill has had his fair share of successful postseason runs.
During his time in the American Hockey League (AHL), O Neill suited up for four different teams and made the playoffs with each of them. In fact, during the 2017-18 season, he helped lead the Toronto Marlies to their first-ever Calder Cup championship. O Neill played an integral role in that playoff run, providing stability on the backend and chipping in five points in 16 games.
O Neill credits his team’s success to their commitment to playing strong defense, saying “We knew we weren’t going to win games based on just our offense. We needed everyone buying into a defence-first mindset.”
O Neill’s strong play at both ends of the ice did not go unnoticed by USA Hockey, who invited him to participate in the 2018 Deutschland Cup. The tournament featured top teams from Europe, and O Neill saw himself lining up against players who were established NHLers.
Despite being a relative unknown on the international stage, O Neill’s strong play earned him high praise from his coach. Tony Granato, the head coach of USA Hockey at the time, stated “Will was our rock back there. He played heavy minutes, played in all situations and did an outstanding job for us.”
Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of Will O Neill’s hockey career has been his ability to be a stalwart defender game in and game out.
In fact, during the 2016-17 season, he set a new team record for consecutive games without being assessed a penalty while playing for the Manitoba Moose. Despite being a physical player who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around, O Neill possesses excellent defensive skills, and this record only proves that.
O Neill’s commitment to defense also helped him win multiple awards throughout his career, including the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial award in the 2020-21 season. This award is given annually to the player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, dedication, and community involvement.
“He’s solid defensively, moves pucks quickly and doesn’t take unnecessary risks,” said Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe. “But what sets Will apart is his leadership qualities. He is vocal, poised and respected by all his teammates.”
Will O Neill’s memorable moments in hockey have come from both his individual contributions on the ice and his leadership abilities off of it. His incredible work ethic and commitment to defense have earned him respect amongst coaches and peers alike, showcasing how anything can be achieved through hard work and perseverance.
Is Will O Neill Currently Playing Professional Hockey?
As of October 2021, Will O Neill is not currently playing professional hockey. He last played in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the Belleville Senators during the 2019-2020 season.
O Neill’s absence from professional hockey is due to an injury he sustained during his time with the Belleville Senators. In January 2020, O Neill was ruled out indefinitely due to a shoulder injury that required surgery. The injury forced him to miss the remainder of the season and has kept him off the ice since then.
Past Seasons and Teams
Will O Neill has had a successful career in professional hockey, spanning over twelve seasons. He began his hockey journey by playing collegiately at the University of Maine, where he played four seasons from 2007 to 2011.
In 2011, O Neill signed with the St. John’s IceCaps, the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets. Over the next few years, he played for various teams in North America, including the Springfield Falcons, San Antonio Rampage, Rochester Americans, and the Manitoba Moose.
O Neill also spent some time playing overseas in Europe. During the 2015-2016 season, he played for Linkoping HC in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), one of the premier professional leagues in Europe. While there, he helped lead his team to a championship title.
After returning to North America, O Neill continued his success in the AHL, playing for the Syracuse Crunch, Utica Comets, and Belleville Senators over the past few years. His most successful season in terms of points came during the 2017-2018 season with the Comets, where he recorded 37 points in 74 games.
Despite being sidelined due to injury, Will O Neill has not given up on his hockey career. He is currently working hard towards making a comeback and hopes to sign with a team soon once he is fully recovered from his shoulder surgery.
O Neill’s positive attitude and dedication to the sport are evident through his social media posts, where he frequently shares updates about his progress and training regimen. On Twitter, he wrote: “Back at it & hungry than ever! Can’t wait to get back playing this great game alongside some even greater teammates.”
“Injuries are part of the game,” O Neill said in an interview last year. “As athletes, we all have moments where our careers go sideways. But working through those tough times can make us stronger players and better people in the end.”
O Neill remains optimistic and determined to get back on the ice and continue pursuing his passion for professional hockey. Fans and fellow players alike eagerly await his return.
Where Can You Follow Will O Neill’s Hockey Journey?
Social Media Accounts
If you want to stay up-to-date with Will O Neill’s hockey journey, social media is the best way to go. O’Neill has an active presence on both Twitter and Instagram, where he often shares updates about his training, games, and personal life.
- Twitter: On Twitter, you can follow Will at @wboneill26. He frequently tweets photos and videos from the ice as well as insights into his thoughts on hockey and his team.
- Instagram: If you prefer visual content, following Will on Instagram at bones_121212 is a must. Here, he posts images of himself in action, inspirational quotes, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of his everyday life off the rink.
“Every day, I try to improve my skills, work hard, and contribute to the team in any way possible.” – Will O’Neill
Team and League Websites
Another great way to follow Will O Neill’s hockey journey is by visiting the official websites for his teams and leagues.
- AHL (American Hockey League): As O’Neill currently plays for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, their website ( www.phantomshockey.com) provides daily updated news articles, access to live game broadcasts, highlights of recent matches, fan forums, and even purchase merchandise. Additionally, on AHL website (www.theahl.com) one can find detailed stats, standings, rosters and valuable insights about other teams.
- IHL (International Hockey League): Will’s earlier games recorded while playing under Kalamazoo Wings’ name are available on the league’s official website (𝅘𝅥𝅮ECHL). One can check all the upcoming schedules of the team as well as highlights of previous encounters.
No matter which platform you prefer to follow Will O’Neill hockey journey on, you’ll get an inside look into his life both on and off the ice, and even some tips on how to improve your own game from this elite player.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will O’Neill be selected in the NHL draft?
It’s difficult to predict whether O’Neill will be selected in the NHL draft as it depends on various factors such as his performance, current team needs, and other prospects. However, O’Neill has showcased his skills in the AHL and KHL, increasing his chances of being picked. Regardless of the outcome, O’Neill’s hard work and dedication have already brought him success in his hockey career.
Will O’Neill make it to the NHL?
O’Neill’s journey to the NHL depends on his consistent performance and opportunities presented to him. He has already played in the AHL and KHL, gaining valuable experience and proving himself as a talented player. With hard work and determination, there’s a good chance that O’Neill will make it to the NHL and continue to pursue his dreams as a professional hockey player.
Will O’Neill continue to play professional hockey?
O’Neill’s passion for hockey is undeniable, and his successful career thus far suggests that he will continue to play professionally. He has already played in the AHL and KHL, and with his talent and determination, it’s likely that he will continue to pursue opportunities to play at the highest level possible. The future may hold new challenges, but O’Neill’s love for the game will likely keep him playing for years to come.
Will O’Neill lead his team to a championship?
O’Neill’s leadership skills and talent have already made him a valuable player on his team. While winning a championship is a team effort, O’Neill’s contributions and dedication can certainly make a difference. Whether he leads his team to a championship or not, his hard work and commitment to the game will undoubtedly inspire and motivate his teammates.
Will O’Neill be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?
Being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a prestigious honor reserved for the most accomplished and influential players in the game. While O’Neill has had a successful career thus far, it’s too early to predict whether he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Regardless, his passion for the game and hard work have already made him a respected and talented player in the world of hockey.