Former Notre Dame hockey standout Mike McNeill is in his fourth season as a volunteer assistant coach at his alma mater.
McNeill has had Notre Dame in his blood since he was a youngster. His family moved to South Bend from Winona, Minn., when is father, Tim McNeill, became the Irish hockey program's first assistant coach under Lefty Smith in 1968.
A product of the local youth hockey and St. Joseph's High School program, McNeill came to Notre Dame where he was a two-sport athlete (also playing baseball) and member of the hockey team from 1984-88. A two-time Irish captain, McNeill remains among the top offensive players in the school's history. He ranks fifth all-time in points (198), is eighth in goals (83), fifth in assists (115), third in power-play goals (31) and tied for the lead in short-handed goals with seven. His 72 points during the 1987-88 season are the third-best single-season point mark while his 28 goals tie for 11th and 44 assists rank him fourth.
A finance major at Notre Dame, McNeill was a supplemental pick in the 1988 draft by the St. Louis Blues. That began a professional career that would cover 12 seasons and take him to the International Hockey League (IHL), the American Hockey League (AHL), the National Hockey League (NHL) and the German Elite League.
He began his career with the IHL's Ft. Wayne Komets in 1988-89 and had 27 goals and 35 assists for 62 points. That led the Chicago Blackhawks to sign the high-scoring forward and send him to the Indianapolis Ice for the 1989-90 campaign where he had 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. He helped Indianapolis to the Turner Cup title that year and won the N.R. "Bud" Poile Trophy as the playoff most valuable player, scoring six goals with four assists in 14 games.
The following year, McNeill split the season between Indianapolis and Chicago, appearing in 23 games before being traded at the trading deadline to the Quebec Nordiques where he played in 14 games, finishing the year with four goals and seven assists in 37 NHL games.
He split the following season between Quebec and Halifax in the AHL, seeing action in 26 games for the Nordiques. In 63 NHL games, McNeill had five goals and 11 assists for 16 points.
In 1992-93, McNeill moved back to the IHL and the Milwaukee Admirals where he would play the next six seasons for former Irish hockey standout Phil Wittliff. The Admirals advanced to the Turner Cup playoffs in all six seasons. During the six years (1992-98), McNeill played in 452 games with 97 goals and 110 assists for 207 career points. In 43 playoff games, he added eight goals and four assists for 12 more points.
From Milwaukee, McNeill played two seasons in Germany for the Revier Lions before retiring following the 1999-2000 campaign.
Since then, McNeill has been heavily involved in youth coaching and developing the game at the grass roots level. He has been involved in youth hockey in Vail, Colo., and Milwaukee, Wis., coaching at the minor and high school level.
Since returning to South Bend, McNeill has worked at the Ice Box, a local rink, developing clinics and programs for the IYHL, local high schools and senior leagues in the area. His work with the IYHL and the high schools take him back to his local hockey roots as these are the same programs that he played in growing up and were started with the assistance of Lefty Smith and his father, Tim.
He has been involved with USA Hockey for nine years and serves on the Youth Council's Executive Committee. On the coaching level, McNeill has twice assisted current Irish assistant coach Andy Slaggert in coaching the Michigan Select 15 team at the national tournament.
McNeill and his wife, Michelle, have one son, Michael (7) and reside in South Bend.