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Winnipeg Jets prospect Logan Neaton isn’t done with the RedHawks

<p>When star goalie Ludvig Persson transferred to the University of North Dakota at the end of last season, an opportunity opened up for Neaton to take the starting job.</p>

When star goalie Ludvig Persson transferred to the University of North Dakota at the end of last season, an opportunity opened up for Neaton to take the starting job.

The 2022-23 season for Miami University hockey was plagued with inconsistencies and disappointment. Finishing with a record of 8-24-4, the RedHawks were frustrated with their overall performance. The program hasn’t had a winning season since 2015.

The older players knew that the program could do better, and many seniors chose to return for a fifth year, including Winnipeg Jets prospect Logan Neaton from Brighton, Michigan.

Neaton has been playing with the RedHawks since 2021. However his college hockey career started in 2019 at UMass Lowell, where he made eight appearances and had a career save percentage of 0.862. 

Soon after starting his career at Lowell, Neaton was selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the 144th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2019 NHL draft. When a player is drafted into the NHL, the team that drafted him reserves the right to sign him in the future. In the meantime, the player continues to play for his amateur junior teams or collegiately. Neaton continued to play for UMass Lowell until 2021, when he entered the transfer portal.

“I wasn’t really looking for it,” Neaton said. “It just kind of came up out of nowhere. I was on vacation with my family and I got the call while waiting on a dock. That’s a once in a lifetime experience. But getting drafted isn’t the finish line, it’s where the work starts.”

At the same time that he was looking to transfer, Miami head coach Chris Bergeron was looking for a goalie. When he noticed Neaton in the transfer portal, Bergeron knew he was the player the RedHawks were looking for.

“He needed a change of scenery, and we needed a goaltender,” Bergeron said. “The timing matched up perfectly for us to recruit him.”

Neaton transferred to Miami in April 2021. Among his many reasons for transferring, he was most impressed with the treatment he received from the coaching staff.

“The first time I talked to Coach Bergeron, I knew what kind of person he was, and that he cared about us from a human perspective,” Neaton said. “That was the biggest thing I was looking for in the recruiting process: finding good people who cared about both how we perform as athletes and how we are doing as humans.”

Neaton was reunited with fellow Michigander Jack Clement, who joined the RedHawks in 2019 and is the current captain of the team. They had played against each other in high school and together for club hockey in the fall and winter. Since Neaton transferred to Miami, he and Clement have become close friends. 

“It was obviously great when he transferred here,” Clement said. “I knew him decently well from Michigan, and over the past two or three years we’ve gotten really close. He’s my roommate, and he’s been someone that I’ve leaned on a ton over the years.”

Neaton’s career at Miami got off to a rough start. In his first game at Miami, he made 29 saves on 31 shots. However, later that season, he tore his meniscus and was out for the rest of the year. Clement noticed the effect this injury had on Neaton and the rest of the RedHawks.

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“We were excited to get him,” Clement said. “He got a few games early on before he got hurt. It sucked for us, and I know it sucked for him. It was a long recovery time for him, but he’s worked hard to get back and come back even stronger than he was before.”

Last season, Neaton was relegated to more of a back-up role behind starter Ludvig Persson. He played nine games out of 36 and earned a save percentage of 0.900. Toward the end of the season, he got more opportunities and ended the season with five starts. 

When Persson transferred to the University of North Dakota at the end of last season, an opportunity opened up for Neaton to take the starting job. Neaton and Persson have similar play styles as goalies, but Neaton is a bigger and taller player. Standing at 6-foot-4, Neaton can use his body to block shots without needing to make crazy athletic saves.

After last season’s underwhelming performance, Neaton and Clement chose to return for a fifth year. They knew that the program could do better, and they intend to prove that this year.

“We struggled, and it was definitely frustrating at times,” Clement said. “It added fuel to the fire, and it was a big reason why Logan and I came back for a fifth year. We want to get the results we know the team is capable of.”

In preparation for the upcoming season, Neaton has kept his focus singular. He participated in a training camp with the Winnipeg Jets over the summer, but his current goal is supporting the RedHawks’ program. 

“I appreciate everything that the Jets have done for me, but right now my focus is on Miami,” Neaton said. “I think we have the right group of people. There’s a lot of faith, belief and trust amongst the group.”

The RedHawks open their season on Oct. 7 against Ferris State. Bergeron and the players hope that the fans can expect an entertaining and enthusiastic team. 

“Our guys want the student body and the fans in Oxford to watch them play,” Bergeron said. “We can’t expect that, we have to earn it.”