Will O’Neill is ready.
Make that absolutely, without a doubt, no questions asked ready.
“I’ve poured everything I have into this and am ready to go. I’m excited for the opportunity,” said the 24-year-old Salem native, who is heading off to Newfoundland this weekend to take part in his first professional hockey training camp with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League.
A 6-foot-1, 210-pound defenseman who graduated after four stellar seasons at the University of Maine last fall, O’Neill dipped his skates into the pro waters last spring when he joined the IceCaps — the farm team of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, who own O’Neill’s rights — after Maine’s season ended in the NCAA playoffs. Playing seven games, he had a goal and two assists for St. John’s, registering nine penalty minutes and finishing with a plus-1 rating.
Having worked all summer not only on his game but also on adding muscle and core strength, O’Neill says he’s ready for the rigors that await him in the AHL.
“I’ve had a big summer, put my time in working on my body and my game. I’d ready to go up there, play my game and show what I can do,” said O’Neill, a captain for the Maine Black Bears last winter who eclipsed 100 career points as a defenseman.
“I wanted to work on everything, but in particular my leg strength. My goal was to get my lower body as big and strong as I could, and I feel like I’ve done that. Plus, I put on 10-12 pounds of muscle, which I think is really going to help.”
O’Neill did all this by working out 1-on-1 with Alex Carew at The Training Room in Marblehead four days a week.