Going for gold
MSU alumnus excels on the ice for team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics
The red, white and blue of the U.S. men’s hockey team has been soaring in the 2014 Winter Olympics, with a sprinkle of green and white contributing to the success.
Former Spartan and current U.S. goaltender Ryan Miller is making his second appearance in the Winter Olympics, recently leading the U.S. to a 5-1 victory against Slovenia on Sunday. The team will play again Wednesday.
Miller, who won the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top collegiate hockey player in 2001 at SB MSU, saved 17 of 18 shots in the victory.
It was Miller’s first action in this year’s Olympics after winning Most Valuable Player recognition in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Miller was key in the United States’ run to a silver medal that year.
However, this year’s competition could lead to an even better finish for the stars and stripes.
Other Notable Millers
Kevin Miller (1984-88) Was the only other Miller to play in the Olympics, representing the U.S. in the 1988 winter games
Kip Miller (1987-90) Won the 1990 Hobey Baker Award as top collegiate hockey player in the country
Drew Miller (2003-06) Is the only Miller to win a Stanley Cup in the NHL, winning in 2007 with the Anaheim Ducks
The U.S. won each of its three preliminary-round games and have earned a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed in bracket play.
Before the hockey portion of the Olympics began, MSU hockey head coach Tom Anastos said he thought the U.S. could take home the gold, in large part because of Miller’s play.
“I’m going to pick the U.S. because I’m a homer, and I really want them to win,” Anastos said. “I think Ryan Miller is going to be unbelievable, and that’s not just because I’m a homer, I think he will be.”
Anastos added that a hot goalie can change everything in the Olympics, making him lean toward a former Spartan to be that game-changer.
With Ryan Miller in his second Olympics, it only adds to the legacy of the Miller family’s contributions to the sport of hockey.
Kelly Miller, an MSU assistant coach and the cousin of Ryan Miller, is one of 10 Miller family members to play for MSU. He said the whole family is proud of Ryan’s accomplishments.
“We’re obviously very proud of him,” Kelly Miller said. “He’s always been a very focused kid, I think back to the days when he came out and skated with us as a kid. To watch him blossom as a player today is special.”
But a fellow former Spartan ultimately could be the roadblock again from Miller earning a gold medal.
Former MSU defenseman Duncan Keith has been a consistent contributor for the Canadian national team in the first three games, notching an assist so far. He helped Canada earn a first-round bye and the No. 3 seed in bracket play.
With the No. 3 seed, there is a good chance the U.S. could face Canada in the semifinals, creating a battle of former Spartans.
The success of both Ryan Miller and Keith on the international level is a crown jewel for MSU hockey and used in creating future success.
Kelly Miller, who missed part of Ryan’s game against Slovenia because of recruiting responsibilities, said the program can use the success of former Spartans as a recruiting tool.
“There’s no question it’s something we can point to as the success (that) our program is developing players for the next level,” Kelly Miller said. “We are very proud of it, we certainly like to brag about it. (I) hope some of our current players and future players have the same opportunity.”
Both the U.S. and Canada will be back in action on Wednesday in quarterfinal match-ups. The U.S. will play the winner of Czech Republic-Slovakia and Canada will play the winner of Switzerland-Latvia, and both games begin today at noon. It is unclear if Miller or Jonathan Quick of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings will start in goal for the U.S. in the quarterfinal.
If both the U.S. and Canada win those match-ups, it will create a Ryan Miller-Keith semifinal.
Staff reporter Erik Sargent contributed to this report.