Five months from the end of his breakout season with Methuen High hockey, Owen Kneeland is ready to take on competitors from across the United States and beyond – in the elite Hockey Night in Boston tournament.
“I’m really excited,” Kneeland said. “I see it as a way to measure my abilities against some of the other top players in Massachusetts, New England and the rest of the country. I am thrilled to represent Methuen High School and Coach (Bill) Blackwell’s hockey program.
The new Rangers senior will lead the North Shore team at the 48th annual Hockey Night in Boston Boys Major Showcase, which opened play Thursday and ends with the title game Sunday. His team is coached by former Haverhill High head coach and former Andover High boys head coach Chris Kuchar, now head coach of Malden Catholic.
The Hockey Night in Boston tournament is made up of 22 teams, featuring players from across the United States – as far away as California, Alaska and Arizona – and across Canada. It comes after the tournament was limited primarily to New England competitors for the past two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
After HNIB was held at Haverhill Valley Forum in 2019 and 2021 and Salem (NH) Icenter in 2020, the venue moved to Fidelity Bank Worcester Ice Center this winter.
“My goals are just to take the tournament one game at a time, focus on every moment, work hard and play my game,” Kneeland said. “I think the biggest challenge is finding chemistry with players you’ve never played with before, as well as playing against players who are a few years older than me.
“I mean, it’s different (playing at Worcester), compared to playing at Haverhill and Salem, which feels like playing at home. But nothing changes with the new location. The focus remains the same . »
Kneeland is coming off a huge junior season for the Rangers. He scored 15 goals, added 18 assists, and was named Eagle-Tribune All-Star and Merrimack Valley Conference/Dual Country League Division 3 Player of the Year. He scored his first career hat trick in a victory against Amesbury.
In three college seasons, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Kneeland — who played on the same line as his brother Noah last season — has scored 21 career goals.
“Owen plays for us on offense and defense based on the score, and we rely on him to score key goals,” coach Bill Blackwell said over the winter.
Kneeland added, “My greatest strengths as a hockey player are my skating and hockey IQ, which allows me to play forward or defense as Coach Blackwell needs.”
Kneeland’s success last winter helped Methuen tie its most wins (12-7-2) for the program in at least 15 years.
“For me, it was a big step in the right direction for the program,” said Kneeland, who is also a starting outfielder/outfielder and elected captain of the Methuen baseball team. There were a lot of great memories to go along with this season. But as of now, this year is in the past. It’s about taking the next step and focusing on next year, and how we as a team can build on last year’s performance.
But first, he wants to win a Hockey Night in Boston title.
“I hope to help the North Shore team succeed in the tournament,” he said, “put some points on the board, learn a few tricks to develop my game and have a little fun in the process.”