McMillen made most of second chance in Prince Albert

Photo by Erica Perreaux/ @perreauxphoto Turner McMillen celebrates a game tying goal late in the third period in Lethbridge on Feb. 17, 2024. McMillen scored with just 4.8 seconds remaining to tie the game.

Turner McMillen wasn’t the most vocal player in the Prince Albert Raiders dressing room, but he let his work ethic do the talking.

The 21-year-old Carievale, Saskatchewan product began the season in Kelowna appearing in six games for the Rockets before he was released by the team on October 11.

“This was a very difficult decision for us to make,” said Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton in a press release. “With Gabriel Szutrc returned to us, we were in a position that we had to release one overage player to get down to three 20-year-olds.”

Photo by Steve Dunsmoor/Kelowna Rockets Turner McMillen played 156 regular season games in a Kelowna Rockets uniform in his WHL career before he signed with the Prince Albert Raiders in January.

McMillen was signed by the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins the following day on October 12. Estevan had selected McMillen in the first round of the 2018 SJHL Draft, 10th overall.

During his tenure in southeastern Saskatchewan, McMillen registered five goals and five assists in 11 games for the Bruins before he found himself on the move once again.

A phone call led McMillen back to Prince Albert, where he played two seasons for the Mintos. He served as an assistant captain in the 2019-20 campaign.

McMillen made his Raider debut in Moose Jaw on January 5, 2024 while he was with the team on a tryout basis. The Raiders would ink McMillen for the remainder of the season on January 8.

Looking back on his year as a whole, McMillen says the entire season was a learning experience, but he was glad to have the opportunity to finish his career in Hockeytown North.

“I went through some stuff and I just worked my tail off and ended up getting a call. I didn’t take it for granted. I love the city (and) it was great to be back. The best fans in the Western (Hockey League) for sure. I’m glad I got to finish here.”

In 31 games for the Raiders, McMillen would post seven goals and 11 assists. Two of McMillen’s goals would be game tying markers in the final minute of a third period, one was on Jan. 26 at the Art Hauser Centre against the Saskatoon Blades. The other was on the road in Lethbridge on Feb. 17 in a game that saw the Raiders eliminate a three goal deficit in the third period at the Enmax Centre.

Raider head coach Jeff Truitt says McMillen did an excellent job at setting an example for the younger players during his time in Prince Albert.

“(He’s) a great player, a great competitor, and a great person. He doesn’t say an awful lot. He’s a pretty quiet guy. But you know that he cares, and he shows that he cares. He does things by example, came in every day and worked hard, and came up with some pretty big goals for us along the way. That’s what you would expect, but he would expect that too. He was a pleasure to work with.”

The Raiders concluded their season with a first round playoff series loss against Saskatoon in five games.

McMillen says he is sad to see his WHL career come to a close, but he was glad to play in a rivalry playoff series.

“It’s a sad day, I enjoyed it every step of the way, I had so much fun meeting new guys. I’ll definitely miss it, but I had a time. You don’t get that much compete level in just a normal series, but when it’s against your rivals, it’s totally different. It’s a lot harder, way more physical, but I wouldn’t take it any other way.”

As for future plans, McMillen hasn’t made up his mind whether he will pursue professional opportunities, attend university or help out on the family farm.