Matt McNeely, a 16-year-old goalie from Lakeville, Minn. who will try out for the United States Under-17 National Team Development Program squad on March 26-29 in Ann Arbor, Mich., has verbally committed to attend the University of Maine on an athletic scholarship beginning in the fall of 2011.
McNeely, who stands 6-3½, was 7-1-1 in 11 games with a 2.27 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage as a sophomore at St. Thomas Academy (Minn.) this past season. Junior Kurt Altrichter played 19 games.
“Matt has progressed very nicely,” said St. Thomas Academy co-head coach Tom Vannelli. “He covers a lot of the net and has great instincts for the game. He has a very controlled style. He takes advantage of his size. And he has a great demeanor in the net. He has incredible poise.”
Vannelli also said McNeely is “very athletic” and comes from an athletic family.
McNeely also plays baseball; his father, Mike, played hockey at St. Olaf College (Minn.); his mother, Amy, was an all-state track star in high school; sister Melissa, plays volleyball at Bemidji State (Minn.) and younger brother, Jack, plays hockey and baseball.
“With his work ethic, athleticism and size, he could very very, very good,” said Vannelli.
McNeely visited Notre Dame as well as Maine and was also recruited by Minnesota and Wisconsin.
He chose Maine for several reasons.
“The students were very nice and [Alfond Arena] is my favorite arena. The coaches and the staff were really nice and [the area] reminded me of where I’m from in Minnesota. I really liked it there,” said McNeely. “Maine also has a real good track record when it comes to goalies. They’ve had a lot of goalies play in the NHL (9) and that sold me, too.”
He said he if he doesn’t make the Under-17 team, he will look to join a United States Junior League team next season.
McNeely’s coming to Maine is contingent upon his acceptance to the university and his meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.
Maine’s second half is 2nd worst
Maine’s 2-14-2 record in the 2009 portion of the 2008-2009 schedule is the second worst among the nation’s 58 Division I hockey schools. That is a winning percentage of 16.7 percent.
American International College in Springfield, Mass., which is in Atlantic Hockey and is coached by former Maine assistant Gary Wright, has gone 1-15-2 in 2009 (11.8 percent).
WCHA member Michigan Tech also has just one win but it has gone 1-8-5 for a winning percentage of 25 percent.
The only other school with fewer than three wins in 2009 has been Alabama-Huntsville from College Hockey America with a 2-9-3 record (25 percent).