May 24, 2020

Defenseman commits to Maine Salem, Mass., native to play for Bears in 2008-09 season

The University of Maine men’s hockey team has landed a defenseman for next season.

Will O’Neill, who is in his second season with the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League, has verbally committed to attend Maine.

He has met NCAA Clearinghouse requirements, but he must still be admitted by the university.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound O’Neill, a native of Salem, Mass., had four goals and nine assists in 57 games for the Lancers last season.

O’Neill, 19, is the son of Salem State hockey coach Bill O’Neill, who played on Boston University’s 1978 NCAA championship team.

The younger O’Neill signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of New Hampshire a year ago, but, according to UNH coach Dick Umile, he “wasn’t [academically] admissible at that particular time. Some work still had to be done.”

Umile said the two sides made a mutual decision to part ways.

“He’s a good kid from a good family. That’s a good get for Maine. He’s going to be a good player. He moves the puck well and he has some offensive skills,” said Umile.

O’Neill was disappointed about the UNH situation at first but said, “I got extremely fortunate. I really worked my butt off and things have worked out for the better.

“I love the coaching staff at Maine and the unique tradition. It’s the best place to play in the East.”

O’Neill feels he needs to “continue to get better in all aspects of the game” in preparation for next season.

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