Versatile Neil fits the Phoenix bill

Tuesday, 25th May 2010

Nottingham-born James Neil has inked a contract for a second season with the Manchester Phoenix and summed up his feelings say, “I love it here.”

A product of the Nottingham junior system, James Neil signed for Manchester last season in an effort to gain more ice time and he got it in abundance as Phoenix player coach Tony Hand thrust him into a defensive role in the early part of last season.

“You never refuse a role asked of you,” the amiable 20-year old said, “and when Tony asked me to play at the back, my quest for more ice time was answered and then some, I was out there every other shift. Playing defence is not my natural position, and with all things equal, I’d rather play as a forward, but at the same time I’d be telling lies if I said I didn’t enjoy it.”

Scoring seven goals and twelve assists for 19 points and only four minutes in penalties was a pleasing return for the makeshift blueliner and apart from four games missed due to Great Britain duty in December, James Neil was an ever-present for the Phoenix last season, factors that influenced Tony Hand to re-sign him.

“I loved it here last season and when Tony asked me to come back I had no doubt about accepting the offer. From the way the squad is looking already for next season, I think we’ll be stronger and if I’m able to play more in my preferred position as a forward, I’ll be looking to increase my numbers accordingly.”

“As a couple of the other guys have said, I too think we’ve got unfinished business from last season. I thought we were a little unlucky, we had a good team and right up until the turn of the year, we were really pushing. Injuries and four us going away with GB didn’t help the team and then we suffered some losses in form. The guys that Tony has brought in will be great additions and I’m looking forward to it already.”

Tony Hand commented on James Neil saying, “James is a very relaxed young man who adjusted well to playing on defence. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have asked him to do that and it’s testimony to his willingness and character that he never once complained. He’s popular in the room, versatile on the ice and I had no hesitation in asking him to come back.”

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James Neil

James Neil has signed for a second season with Phoenix

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