Defensive prospect Reid McNeill was drafted by the Penguins in the sixth round (170th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He played for the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2011-12. The defensive-minded blueliner established career highs in goals (3), assists (9) and points (12) while finishing second on the Colts with a plus-9 rating.
McNeill, who is attending his third development camp, was kind enough to blog about his week for www.pittsburghpenguins.com.
I was really excited to come back to Pittsburgh for development camp. I’ve been working hard all summer and wanted to make a good impression this week. In development camp you try to take in as much as they give you so you can use that for the rest of your summer and next season.
There were about eight or nine of us that met in the Toronto airport and flew in together, like (Zach) Sill, (Scott) Harrington, Adam Payerl, (Simon) Despres, Clark Seymour and a few other guys. It was good to see some familiar faces and meet the younger guys, new draft picks and free agents. It’s always nice meeting guys.
The first day of development camp always starts with the fitness testing, which means an early wake up. You know it’s coming. It’s my third camp so I was expecting the early start. It was still tough, but after the fitness testing is done it’s a fun week. It’s good to get it out of the way early.
I’ve been working on overall strength this summer and a lot of leg and foot speed. I have been focusing on getting bigger and filling into my size. That was my main focus. I thought I tested pretty well. They took out the wingate test this year. A lot of guys were happy about that. That was always a tough one.
|McNeill at practice |
After the testing, we got on the ice for the first time for practice. That first skate is always the hardest. Most of us have “summer legs” and other guys’ seasons went pretty long with the Memorial Cup guys having only a month off. I was down in Wilkes-Barre for a month. We all had summer legs. As the week goes on you get your legs back and the touch back, things clean up. It’s a good week to get back on the ice and get a feel for things again.
We ended our first day with bowling. It’s something we’ve done before. I was on a team with Harrison Ruopp, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Wilson. Our first game we bowled the worst out of everybody. But then we rallied and in the second game we set the second-highest score. Ruopp bowled a 65 in the first game and a 187 in the second. Wilson was having a tough time with the gutters. We just wanted him to hit a pin. He stepped up in the second game. We all stepped up in the second game. I bowled a 140 and a 145, trying to be consistent.
It’s nice to get out with the team and off the ice, doing team building stuff. We get to see everybody’s personalities. It was awesome. We all had a lot of laughs.
On the second day we got to visit a hospital. When they told us we were going to Children’s Hospital, I thought it was a great opportunity to get out into the public and give back, especially with such special kids. They were awesome. We had a lot of fun, playing board games with the kids.
I got beat in Jenga three times in a row. Olli (Maatta) and I had a rough time playing Jenga. Just when we thought we had it, the kids would pull out the block like it was nothing. I think they’ve been practicing for us. It’s something I’ll have to work on for next year, buy a Jenga for the hotel room and practice.
The kids made it a great day for us. Seeing the kids go through such a tough time, but still smile and have so much fun with us makes me feel grateful for everything I have. It makes you feel good when you give back like that. I’m looking forward to going back in future camps. It was a really awesome day.
On Thursday we were back on the ice for another round of practice. We went through some power skating drills with Marianne Watkins. Then we played some three-on-three against each other.
|McNeill and teammates played paintball Thursday |
After practice we suited up for paintball. It was a lot of fun. We had a great team. We were rushing up and putting pressure on the other guys that were hiding back. We won all four games. That was awesome.
Our captain was Sill. He was wearing a completely camouflaged outfit. As soon as he stepped into the forest I lost him. I was running back to our flag and saw him in a bush, sitting on top of a hill, just waiting. He was a great leader. We didn’t lose a game. I credit him on the backend for holding down the fort.
I think (Philip) Samuelsson and I are enlisting in the future. We had Call of Duty maneuvers going on. He was giving me hand signals and pointing to bunkers to jump in. Samuelsson and I put together are a deadly duo. We were going pretty hard out there. I hit double digits in getting guys out. I got Scott Wilson and (Anton) Zlobin really good right in the back. I sneaked around their flag and came in from behind. They thought I was on their team and I got them. I was behind their team most of the game. I had to put the orange armband (which signified teams) on my mask just so they would stop complaining.
(Wilkes-Barre/Scranton head coach John) Hynes and I have a grudge that goes back to three years ago in paintball. I beat him then and he said he was going to light me up and get payback. The first game I actually took him out again. It was a lot of fun.
It’s been a good week so far. I just want to finish it out with a good scrimmage (Saturday).