Longtime Arizona youth hockey standout Miller off to college, commits to NCAA D-III Salem State
Skylar Miller experienced youth hockey in Arizona playing for a multitude of organizations.
Three years ago, the Chandler native went east to play junior hockey for the USPHL’s New Jersey Rockets and after a season with the program’s 18U AAA team in 2019-20, went back to junior for this past season.
It all paid off earlier this month when the 2001 birth year forward committed to play NCAA Division III hockey for Salem State University, a small school in Massachusetts.
“The opportunity to commit to Salem State came about halfway through last season,” explained Miller. “I was playing well and coming off a great month when my coach told me Salem was interested in me and needed a defenseman. I then spoke with Salem for a couple of weeks and went on a visit, decided it was the place I wanted to be. What appealed to me was definitely the hockey atmosphere with the rink being on campus and also the smaller student-to-teacher ratio. I’ve never played for a team where hockey is the big deal, so I’m excited for that and the smaller class sizes are definitely going to help me in the classroom.”
Miller said he hasn’t decided on a major yet.
“I have a lot of ideas of what I want to do but I haven’t narrowed it down,” he said. “Will wait to see if something interests me at school.”
Playing for the Rockets was “wild,” according to Miller, who added that “I wouldn’t change a thing.”
“I got lucky and ended up with a great billet family who has definitely shaped who I am the last three years,” Miller said. “I had some amazing coaches as well who saw my potential and helped me grow. That first year of juniors when I was 17 showed me I needed to get faster and stronger and that you really have to work hard. My 18U year, I got to improve on my skills on the ice and use them with what I learned from junior. Now, I have found my game and I’m hoping I will only get better as I start my college hockey career.”
Born and raised in Arizona, Miller said his sister used to figure skate, so he was always at the rink.
“My parents had me skating when I was two,” said Miller. “Our neighbor was a local high school hockey coach and gave me my first stick. I’ve loved hockey ever since.”
Growing up in the desert, Miller started travel hockey with the Polar Bears and also played for the Phoenix Firebirds, Arizona Hockey Union, Jr. Coyotes, Arizona Bobcats and at Hamilton High School.
“I’ve played for a lot of coaches, and I have learned something from all of them,” noted Miller. “Some of the coaches that stand out to me in a positive way would be Jason Roque (AHU), Jason Oliver (Bobcats) and Gary Biggs (Rockets).”
Moving forward, Miller has set very reasonable goals for the future.
“My short-term goals for hockey would be to get in better shape and play the way I know I can play,” said Miller. “My long-term goals for hockey all depend on how I play. I would love to keep playing hockey my whole life. My short-term goals for school and life would be to definitely stay on top of my classes and all my work. My long-term goal would be graduating with a degree in something I’m passionate about that will set me up with success for life.”
— Matt Mackinder
(August 27, 2021)