SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

September 26, 2012

Salem's O'Neill ready to turn heads in AHL training camp with IceCaps

(Continued)

“He’s been great putting a program together for me to work hard and succeed,” O’Neill said.

He also spent a good part of his summer skating at Boston University with other local pros and young standouts, including the Bourque brothers, Chris and Ryan of Boxford; former St. John’s Prep star John McCarthy (of the San Jose Sharks); and New York Islanders prospect Doyle Somerby of Marblehead.

The IceCaps, who reside in the Atlantic Division of the AHL’s Eastern Conference, won their division last year with a 43-25-5 mark.

With the National Hockey League having locked out its players for the second time in nine seasons, there are many players on two-way contracts (i.e., get paid one amount if you play in the NHL and another if you’re in the AHL) who will now be skating in the American League, at least until the lockout is settled. But O’Neill said he’s not worried about that; he views training camp as a chance to show the Jets’ brass what he can do as a professional.

“I’ve put in the time and sacrifice, working on my body and my game, and now this opportunity is there for me to grab,” he said. “The AHL is right there, and the NHL is the next level up. Last year made me realize I can play (in the AHL), but at the same time there are so many good players out there that to compete at that level, you have to be at your best every time you step on the ice.”

As someone who was selected in the seventh round (210th overall) of the 2006 NHL Draft, O’Neill is cognizant that he’s constantly being evaluated. But with a confidence in himself and his ability, he’s at peace letting his game speak for itself.

“I’m a good player and I know that; it’s why I can go in there and have success, I believe. But at the same time, there are no guarantees. I just want to try and help the team win, contribute to the Ice Caps organization, turn some heads, and show the Winnipeg organization I can be a good player for them.

“Anything they want me to do, I’ll do.”

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