Monday, 02.26.18 / 3:06 pm CT
IceRays forward Brendan Miller has committed to play Division I NCAA hockey at the United States Air Force Academy of the Atlantic Hockey Conference. He will begin his college hockey career at the start of the 2018-19 season.
“I chose to commit to Air Force because it is an awesome opportunity to get a great education while continuing my hockey career at a program that has had a lot of success,” Miller said.
Miller has become the first player in IceRays history to commit to the prestigious Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Playing in his third and final year in Corpus Christi, Miller’s decision was long-anticipated and was earned towards the end of his best season yet. Having missed only nine regular season IceRays games over the last three years, Miller has become a staple of the organization and has been what Head Coach Brad Flynn has described as “the heart and soul of the team.”
Proudly wearing the “C” on his sweater in his final campaign, the Buffalo, NY native has had a career year in Corpus Christi. Miller (6’3, 190) sits third on the team with 29 points (14 G, 15 A, +8) in 44 games, having substantially passed his totals from each of his two previous seasons with still a dozen games yet to be played. He has suited up for more IceRays games (167 total) than anyone on the current roster and is fourth of all-time, trailing only Trevor Heuser, Mason Krueger, and Nathan Bryer. As someone who has led by example with his on-ice abilities and off-ice character, Miller has also been a textbook example to younger players of what it means to pay one’s dues.
“We’re extremely proud of Brendan,” Flynn said. “He committed to the process and is a third-year IceRay who was rewarded for his hard work. Air Force is getting a very good player and an even better person.”
Over the years, the captain has entertained IceRays fans with his speed and skill. However, part of what makes him such a unique player is his rare combination of leadership and feistiness. He is normally the first player sent out to confer decisions made by officials. But when it comes to the black-and-blue side of the game, Miller has been at or near the top of the team leaderboards in fights, hits, blocked shots, and penalty minutes all season. He’s been a key contributor on power plays, leads the team in shorthanded goals, has played a great deal in 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 situations, and still has found time to lead the entire South Division in penalty minutes (143) with his highly competitive play. On Saturday night against Amarillo, he returned to the game in the third period after being slashed and injured early in the first. He would go on to score the game-winning goal. There is nothing he wouldn’t do to help his team win. Nothing is beneath him, which is what makes him such a special player.
“We tendered Brendan during the 2014-15 season,” IceRays Director of Scouting Mike Mondoux said. “Brendan was the leading scorer that year for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. I started watching him during his 16U year. I got to know him and his family very well. Great character player both on and off the ice. His character and leadership separated himself from a lot of 18U players that year. I felt his biggest assets were his speed along with him being first to the puck. He has worked extremely hard over the past three years and it has paid off. I am very proud of him and extremely happy for him.”
Speed, skill, leadership, grit, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win; players who possess all of these attributes do not grow on trees, and Corpus Christi will undoubtedly miss Miller next season. It will be the first time in years he will not be a central part of the organization. With that said, the bittersweet feeling is reflected in Miller’s sentiments, as well.
“I’ve spent my entire junior career in Corpus and the past three years have been the best time of my life,” Miller said. “I’ve made life-long friendships with so many great guys over the years that as [Blake] Coffey would say, they are ‘brothers, not friends.’ I can’t thank my coaches enough and especially Coach Flynn for all he has done for me in helping me become a better hockey player, leader, and person and helping me achieve my goal of playing Division I hockey. Also, my billets who made life so much easier and made me feel part of a family while being down here.”
The IceRays will wrap up their eight-game home stand this Friday and Saturday night when they host the Odessa Jackalopes at the American Bank Center. Friday will be a Frosty Friday ($3 pints, small sodas) and Saturday will be Grades for Blades presented by Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Cable One, and IBEW. Puck drop is set for 7:05 pm CT both nights. The games will be broadcast on HockeyTV and on YouTube.