Gilbert native, Arizona youth hockey grad Miller assumes captaincy of NCDC’s Jr. Rangers
Reid Miller knows when he’s found a home.
After career stops in Michigan and Pennsylvania, Miller has not only hooked on with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, but he is wearing the captain’s ‘C’ for the tuition-free junior team playing in the USPHL’s National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC).
“I feel like I have some big shoes to fill with the ‘C’ being worn by Noah Strawn and Colin Slyne last year,” said the Gilbert native, a 2000-born defenseman. “I’m very honored to have the ‘C.’ It’s a big step from where I was last year. I want to lead my team to win the Dineen Cup.”
Miller has done his part on the early path towards that goal, being named the NCDC’s Defenseman of the Month in September. He had 69 defensive takeaways in seven games and led his team in ice time by more than 20 total minutes. He was also the top penalty-killer.
“I’ve found myself to become more of a north-south defenseman – hard-nosed, but more of a playmaker,” said Miller. “I like to make plays and put the guys in good positions to score. I would go through a wall for my team and my coaches – I’ll block shots, kill penalties, anything for my team.”
This team-first attitude has been the key part of Miller’s game all the way back to his days in Gilbert with the Jr. Coyotes. The Jr. Coyotes and Arizona Bobcats were the two top Midget teams in the city, and they went after each other with a vengeance every time on the ice.
“The rivalry was huge,” said Miller. “You hated the Bobcats on the ice, but you’d run into those guys off the ice, and we were all a tight group and we’d talk to each other. It was definitely always a battle – everyone would get up for the games against the Bobcats.”
In his final season with the Jr. Coyotes, he played alongside teammates Demetrios Koumontzis, now playing NCAA Division I hockey as a sophomore at Arizona State University, and Erik Middendorf, a Colorado College sophomore. Koumontzis was also selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft.
Prior to his time with the Jr. Coyotes, he started his hockey career in his first home of Flagstaff. When he and his family moved south, he first played with the Arizona Hockey Union under Bob Platt.
From the Jr. Coyotes, he first played Tier II junior hockey with the Aston Rebels in Pennsylvania, before returning to the Midget game with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies in suburban Detroit.
“I can’t thank (Jr. Grizzlies) coach Mike Peruzzi enough for building my confidence back up,” said Miller. “I’ve seen the highs and lows of hockey but having those people around me helped me to where I’m at now.”
He’s also grateful for the support and lessons he’s learned from his current coach, the Jr. Rangers’ Jim Henkel.
“Jim’s done everything for me, and he’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” said Miller. “He puts his players before himself. The hours he puts in for the team, it’s unbeatable. He’s helped me with my weaknesses and strengths. He wants me to be the best player I can be, and he’s like that with all his players.”
— Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com
(Nov. 4, 2019)