This Q&A ran in the Buckeye gameday program for the game vs. Miami Dec. 11
Jeff McNeil, a freshman forward from Mulliken, Mich., knew from a young age he wanted to be a hockey player, picking up ice skating at age 3. His hard work has paid off so far, leading him first from his small hometown to the Wichita Falls Wildcats in the North American Hockey Leauge and now to Ohio State as a Buckeye. Last year in Wichita Falls, McNeil was an alternate captain and finished with five goals and 10 assists. So far this season with the Buckeyes, McNeil has seen action in 16 games, the most of any freshman.
Describe the transition from Mulliken to Ohio State.
“It’s been great. I love it here. I love the campus and the city and all of the life that’s going on here. I was raised in a small town, but I’m glad to be out and in a bigger city and I’m especially glad to be here. I miss knowing everyone, but it’s good to be here and have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people.”
What were the biggest factors in your decision to attend Ohio State?
“The first things that drew me to Ohio State were the academics and the school in general. I want to be a biomedical engineer and they have a great engineering program here. The coaches and the program are great. I’m happy to be here and to be a Buckeye.”
You’ve been a teammate with Sean Duddy in a couple places prior to Ohio State. Did he sway your opinion to become a Buckeye?
“Duddy gave me a lot of good news about the program. He told me about the great team and the great group of guys here. He also mentioned the academics, of course. He was here a year before me and made sure to tell me all about it.”
Are there any players in particular you’ve learned the most from so far? In what areas have they helped you the most?
“I would have to say the biggest teachers have been Corey Toy and Peter Boyd. Being older guys, they have taught me a lot about leadership and hard work.”
You’ve seen a good amount of ice time as a freshman. How are you making the best of the opportunities you are given?
“I try to work hard every chance I get. I keep it simple and do the little things that need to be done. It’s always the little things like keeping turnovers at a minimum and finishing every check. “
How do you think scoring your first collegiate goal is going to feel? Are you getting a little anxious for it to come?
“It’ll be great. It’s definitely something everyone dreams of. I’m not worried about when it will come though. I’m glad to be here to help the team any way I can. Hopefully one day it will be with a goal. Right now, it’s doing my part: a little penalty kill and enforcer roles, hitting people and being physical.”
What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
“We want to win a lot more games down the stretch. We’ve had some tough losses so far this season. We need to start winning both Friday and Saturday nights. We’ve got a lot to improve. Our goal is to get to the top of the CCHA standings and go from there.”