The dreams for Moose Jaw WINMAR AAA Warriors forward Connor Miller have come true!
The 16-year-old Lipton, SK, product verbally committed last week to play Division I hockey at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, following his junior career.
After careful consideration with Warriors coach, Trevor Weisgerber, and his parents he felt it was the right decision for his playing and educational career.
“I talked with Trevor a lot about it and we hummed and hawed about the Western Hockey League and other junior leagues,” says Miller. “We then looked at the school route and over time the school route kept overpowering the western league and other junior leagues somewhere else.”
“When it comes to my parents, they didn’t want me to leave and are not wanting me to leave, but this is a great opportunity for my future and it’s hard to pass up on,” adds Miller.
Augustana University Vikings men’s NCAA Division I hockey team is a brand-new squad and will be making its debut in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association in the 2023-24 season.
Being a part of the early stages of the school’s hockey program is one reason why he decided to verbally commit.
“The interest of their coaching staff and from what I’ve heard they have a great new facility and can’t wait to go down and see it,” explains Miller. “The coach and his assistant are very excited to have me and they make me feel like I’m wanted. I feel like we get along as I have with Trevor here and I think that’s the ultimate reason that I turned my head towards the college route.”
Miller will have the luxury to play in the brand-new $40 million Midco Arena, which broke ground in October 2021. The 3000-seat state-of-the-art arena will include first-class amenities.
Seeing the facility up close and in person is one thing Miller is looking forward to on his official university visit.
“It’s going to be a lot different than up here that’s for sure. I’ve never seen anything like it, I’ve only seen virtual videos of the rink. I’ve heard that the campus is very nice and the city of Sioux Falls is also very comparable to a Saskatchewan city.”
Miller is having a career year with the Warriors this season posting 25 goals and 31 assists for 56 points in 43 games, which is good enough for a tie for second in team scoring and 6th best in the Saskatchewan Male U18 AAA Hockey League.
He leads the league in powerplay goals with 13 and points with 24 on the man advantage.
“I think it’s just trusting my teammates on the powerplay, as we all have a role. Being the bumper guy and Grady [Hoffman] in front of the net, we create a lot of chaos for teams. We’re two big body’s that most guys can’t handle and when the puck goes down low, we go and get it. If it wasn’t for those guys out there and the rest of the team, I don’t think I would be where I am.”
One thing he is looking forward to in the near future is their first-round playoff series that kicks off on Friday night against the third-seeded Saskatoon Contacts.
Following the playoffs, Miller will be preparing for the next step in his hockey career, which is playing for the Humboldt Broncos in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), a team he signed with in late 2022.
“I think a lot of off-ice strengthing, staying in shape and ready to go for puck drop for the start of next season. If we can hit the ice full bore, and have a good start, I think we will have a solid team next year.”
It will be a big jump for Miller playing in the SJHL next season, but he feels this year with the Warriors has prepared him for that next level.
“Being the younger one in the age gap, it will be a really big challenge to compete with those guys. That will bring out the best in me and that should get me ready for the next step whether it’s the USHL before college or straight to college from Humboldt.”
One thing Miller will not have to worry about is waiting for his first SJHL goal, as he has already checked the box on Nov. 4, 2022, against the Weyburn Red Wings.
Miller, his family, and Weisgerber are all thrilled about Connor’s decision to commit to Augustana University.