Girls’ hockey officially began practices Monday. Yet Abbey Miller, Benilde-St. Margaret’s outstanding senior goalie, is already in midseason form.
Miller spent the weekend in Detroit, playing goalie for the Minnesota White team — one of two Minnesota teams — at the Elite League Tournament. A Division I hockey recruit who has verbally committed to Syracuse, Miller led the White Team to the tournament championship, giving up only two goals in four games.
“It’s a pretty good tournament,” Miller said during a phone call while she was in Detroit. “There are a lot of college scouts here. I’m hoping a few of the [Team USA] will notice and I can make it to one of their camps.”
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Miller about the upcoming high school season, among other things.
First, the important question: Why the “E” in “Abbey”?
A: It was my mom’s idea. I guess she wanted me to be different.
Q: Well, you’re a goalie. That’s proof of being different, isn’t it?
A: I think you’re right. There has to be something missing upstairs if want to get hit by solid rubber discs.
Q: Why goalie?
A: I started playing in third grade. I wasn’t very good at forward, so I decided to give goalie a try. I got it right away.
Q: The high school season is right around the corner. You play hockey year-round. How important is this season to you?
A: It’s huge. I’m really excited about this year. It’s what I’ve been waiting for since we lost [in the Section 5 finals] to Minnetonka last year. I really want to play in the state tournament. Just playing in the X [Xcel Center] would be so cool.
Q: What are your expectations?
A: Offensively we’ll be really strong. We have a lot of goal-scoring ability. We lost almost all of our defense from last year, so we’ll have a lot of new girls who don’t have a lot of experience. But they’re very hard workers, though.
Q: Good thing there is an experienced goaltender to help them along.
A: Yeah, I’m kind of excited about that. I’ll get more of a chance to be a part of the games.
Q: You’re in reach of a pretty significant record.
A: I think I’m, like, six shutouts away from the state record. That would be cool to do.
Q: What are your strengths in goal?
A: I have really good hand-eye coordination. I track the puck really well.
Q: How good are the teams in the Elite tournament?
A: Pretty good. The way they have it set up, it’s all American teams vs. Canadian teams.
Q: What the difference between Americans and Canadians?
A: The Canadians are a lot more cheap and aggressive. They’re always hitting after the whistle.
Q: Do you ever respond?
A: Sometimes. I got a penalty today for slashing.
A: This player on the other team started off by checking one of my teammates into a corner. Then she came and started bumping and bothering me in the crease. I just said “Okay, that’s it” and hit her back.
Q: Understandable. Were you worried about their power play?
A: No, not until we got another penalty and they got a 5-on-3 on us. But they didn’t score.