Soldotna High School senior Journey Miller learned Wednesday that she had secured a spot on the women’s hockey team at Division I Minnesota State University, Mankato.
“They’ve been a dream school of mine for a long time now,” Miller said. “I wasn’t sure if the offer would come through and it was getting kind of late. That it did come through is awesome.”
Miller, the daughter of Jesse and Tammi Miller, said she doesn’t get money from the school for playing her freshman year. She said it is up to her to earn money in the future.
“It’s also cool that they believe I can come there and hopefully be a difference maker,” said Miller, who will play forward. “I know I’m going to have to work hard to earn my spot.”
Miller had 11 goals and 11 assists for the Stars hockey team this season, helping lead Soldotna to a runner-up finish at the Division II state hockey tournament. Miller also helped lead the Stars to back-to-back Railbelt Conference titles.
“She’ll do great,” SoHi coach Indy Walton said of Miller. “The coach is going to be impressed and surprised. He’ll be glad he has her.”
Mankato coach John Harrington has never seen Miller play. Harrington has spent five seasons behind the Mavericks bench. Last season, the squad finished with double-digit wins for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Mankato was 11-20-6 overall.
All the USA Hockey national tournaments were canceled, affecting a number of local players who had made nationals and keeping Harrington from getting a look at Miller.
Miller and Kenai Central’s Jordyn Stock were to play with the Alaska All-Stars U19 AA, SoHi’s Liberty Miller was to play with Alaska All-Stars U14 AAA, and SoHi’s Gavin Haakenson, Dylan Walton and Josh Tree were to play with the Alaska Oilers U16 AA.
Even though nationals were canceled, Miller said numerous trips out of state with the All-Stars helped her earn recognition. Playing with mostly boys at SoHi helped as well.
Miller credited coach Walton, coach Cristy Hickel with the All-Stars and Kenai Central assistant coach Jenna Redford with key phone calls to Harrington that made the deal possible. Redford played Division I hockey with St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
Walton’s son, Dagen, also helped Miller with a highlight video.
Miller’s 3.8 grade-point average also helped.
“I really like Minnesota,” Miller said. “It’s a super cool state. They have a nursing program. Ever since I heard of that school, I wanted to go there.”