Although he had been at Max Clunie Field last summer as part of a field lacrosse tournament with the Yorkton Fighting Pikes, former Prince Albert Raiders forward Carson Miller had yet to return to his old home rink since he was traded to the Victoria Royals last January.
The 19-year-old got to experience what it was like to be on the visiting bench at the Art Hauser Centre on Wednesday night in as the Royals dropped a 3-0 decision to the Raiders.
“It was kind of like coming home here to a rink that I grew up in,” Miller said. “You always hear about how this is a tough place to play in and now I know what it’s like.
“I have to say that I’m not quite acclimatized to the weather here though. I don’t remember it being this cold here (in Saskatchewan) in the winter, even though it wasn’t that bad today. We’re a little spoiled out in Victoria.”
Miller, who was the 21st overall pick by the Raiders in the 2015 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft, recorded 47 points in 156 games with the team before he was dealt with Kody McDonald and a third round pick in the 2020 draft to the Royals in exchange for Dante Hannoun, plus a fourth and an eighth round pick in the 2019 draft.
The fourth round pick was used to on defensive prospect Tre Fouquette, while the eighth rounder was later dealt to the Seattle Thunderbirds for blueliner Loeden Schaufler.
After recording 12 points in 32 regular season games and finding the back of the net five times in 10 playoff contests to finish out the 2018-19 campaign, Miller has scored eight goals and dished out 12 helpers in 31 games this year to sit seventh in team scoring.
“It’s been a good year and I’ve been lucky to get some good opportunities here,” said Miller, who missed almost two months of the campaign with a leg injury that he suffered in a late September home game against the Prince George Cougars.
“I’m not happy with how I’ve played lately, but you’ll have some ups and downs during the season and my teammates have my back every night.”
Miller is also an assistant captain for the Royals this year and has taken some of the lessons that he learned in Prince Albert into his leadership role.
“Tim Vanstone and Reid Gardiner were here at the very start of my career and I really wanted to be like those guys,” Miller said. “I also learned a lot from guys like Curtis Miske and Brayden Pachal, who have both done well as they’ve moved forward in their lives and their hockey careers.
“There’s so much that stands out from when I played in Prince Albert, especially with the culture that we built as a team. This is where the roots of my WHL career started and I’ll never forget the time that I spent here.”
The Royals, who are currently in second place in the B.C. Division with a 25-18-4-0 mark, made a big splash at the trade deadline as they brought in Anaheim Ducks forward prospect Brayden Tracey and goaltender Adam Evanoff from the Moose Jaw Warriors.
The duo are expected to be key contributors to the side in the coming months as they look to make some noise in the Western Conference when the playoffs begin.
“It’s exciting to have two great guys like them join our team as they’ve already fit in well with our locker room,” Miller said.
“They’ve started to learn the systems and I think they are going to be really effective for us. I’m excited about the story that our team is going to write as we go forward.”