Developing Story: Andrew Miller
In Developing Story, a regular feature on collegehockeyinc.com, we highlight current college hockey players who have developed their skills during their careers – either on the ice or off – and in turn made a bigger impact on their team’s success.
Andrew Miller's on-ice ability has been evident from the moment he stepped on the Yale campus and averaged a point per game as a freshman. While the Michigan-born center has gotten better every year - notably by adding strength and improving his shot - his biggest improvement is invisible to viewers beyond the "C" on his chest.
Head coach Keith Allain made sure to praise his captain's leadership this season after their NCAA semifinal win, and it's clear that Miller's off-ice qualities have as much to do with Yale's presence in Saturday's championship game as his overtime winner on Thursday.
"Andrew has been a great player for us all four years, but he's made a remarkable transformation into a leadership role this year," Allain said moments after that overtime goal. "Assuming the captain's seat and the way he's done it by including the entire senior class, he does just a great job with our group, not just on the ice, but he monitored them off the ice. He makes sure they're going to class and doing the right thing all the time and they're prepared to play. I can tell you, I couldn't ask for a better captain."
Miller's teammates echo those sentiments. Sophomore Nicholas Weberg noted that Miller isn't just a lead by example type - he engages the entire team.
"The things he does on and off the ice, it's hard not look up to him," Weberg said. "But he's not the type of captain who's up there, he's friends with everyone on the team. He's an all-around great dude."
Miller deflects the praise to the Yale captains who have come before him, noting how much he has picked up from Jimmy Martin and Brian O'Neill the last two years.
He acknowledged that his transition to a leadership role has been a conscious effort, much like his commitment to shoot more this season that has produced a career-high 17 goals.
"The biggest step is worrying about your team more than yourself," he said. "Even if you are having a down day, you've got to bring your 'A' game and you've got to have a smile on your face. You have to make sure you lead by example with your attitude."
As Yale heads into the biggest game in the program's history - and it's the oldest program in the nation, so that's significant - the captain's role is more important than ever. Miller led the Bulldogs through a fairly light practice on Friday and, as a group, the players seemed focused but relaxed.
"None of us have ever been here before," Weberg said. "Miller scoring that goal shows what a true leader he is, and we're following his lead."