Olympian Kevin Miller Sets the Record Straight
Let's set the record straight:
U.S. Olympian Kevin Miller is not a ringer for Michigan State.
Kevin Miller is not playing for the Spartans next year. He intends to graduate.
Kevin Miller did not take advantage of the NCAA rule that allowed Olympians to play for their respective teams without being enrolled in classes.
Any game Kevin Miller plays from now on could be his last as a Spartan.
"It was going to be best for me," Miller said after Michigan State's NCAA first-round victory over Harvard. "It was going to be best for the team. I really didn't want to come back and play all next year. It wouldn't help me that much."
Miller has his reasons for not playing next year. He wants to graduate. He wants to enjoy the last few months of his senior year. He's enrolled in classes--not the hardest ones, he admits--but ones that will help him graduate.
The Spartan Olympian is also enrolled in a class on the ice--college hockey's first class. Right now, he's one of the better players in the tournament. In two games against Harvard this weekend, Miller scored three goals. Three big goals.
Without Miller's hat trick, Harvard and MSU would have finished tied, 8-8.
"He's one of the best players in the country," teammate Danton Cole said. "When he came back, it just helped the confidence of the entire team. When Kevin's out there, he makes things happen."
Miller made a lot of things happen this weekend. His third goal, coming off a patiently-executed power play, was a quick slapshot that beat goalie Michael Francis. It was also the series' game-winner.
It's Miller time.
"He's a terrific hockey player," Harvard Coach Bill Cleary said. "You know why he's on the Olympic team. He deserves it."
When Miller returned to MSU three weeks ago, many people assumed he would take the easy route. Play a little hockey. Sleep a lot. Don't buy any textbooks.
Many assumed he'd be the ringer the Spartans needed to enter the NCAA Tournament. He has been a difference, but he certainly is not a ringer with a blank class schedule.
He admits it took him a while to adjust to college hockey again. The Olympic style was fast and quick. The Spartan style is much more physical. But Miller has adjusted in just seven games.
Miller--who recorded 25 goals and 56 assists last year for the Spartans--scored his only Olympic goal against the Swiss. In seven games with the Spartans, Miller has scored six goals.
Any playoff team that has Kevin Miller on skates is a team that can contend with anyone. Michigan State didn't have a dominant season this year, but Miller's return has turned MSU into a serious playoff threat.
Before the Harvard series, State Coach Ron Mason talked about how flexible the Spartans have become with Miller. That showed this weekend against Harvard. It will show again next weekend against Minnesota.
And Kevin Miller has set the record straight. Miller did not want to take the entire year off. He'll graduate this year.
Kevin Miller is no ringer.