Seasoned pro Miller aims to seize second chance at World Juniors
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
GREENBURGH, N.Y.— With the U.S. National Junior Team coming off one of its’ worst World Junior Championship performances in over a decade, there is presumably a lot of pressure on the only three returning players from last year’s squad .
J.T. Miller, Jacob Trouba and John Gibson will look to right the ship this time around.
“All three of us didn’t like what happened last year,” Trouba said. “I think this year we’ve got a little extra on our shoulders and we have something a little extra to prove.”
During last year’s World Juniors, the U.S. finished the tournament in seventh place. It was their worst performance since they finished in in eighth place in 1999.
“Last year was an embarrassment,” Gibson told reporters. “And that left a bad taste in our mouths. Obviously the three returnees want to set a good example and take what happened last year into this year and learn from it. We need to make sure it doesn't happen again.”
And Miller said that there was some unfinished business.
With how the team performed last year, you’d think that Miller would feel the pressure, but he’s not quite seeing it that way.
“I don’t really look at it as pressure,” He said. “I think it’s like a second chance. We have a completely different group of guys here.”
Of the three returning players, Miller is the only one with professional experience. He has spent the 2012-13 season playing for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL.
“I think it just helps with the whole speed and the strength sides of things,” he said of the advantages he has had from playing with the Whale. “I think it’s going to help me a lot more. Maybe some of the guys that we’re playing against won’t seem maybe as strong or fast. It might just prepare me that much more and make sure I’m playing my best. Just trying to use what I know and everything I learned in the AHL.”
The experience at the pro level has been noticeable to others, like head coach Phil Housley and center Cole Bardeau.
“Just reflecting back to Lake Placid, I really like his leadership qualities,” Housley said of Miller. “I thought he really came into his own as the week wore on trying to get the guys unified and I really liked that. Not only on the ice, but also off the ice. He’s been through it before. He has experience and I think he can provide that.”
“He’s been here before, he’s obviously the only pro guy, playing in the AHL, coming out here and being a strong presence for us,” Bardeau added. “He’s been here, he knows the ropes and he knows what happens. It’s good for him to show us the way here.”
Team USA opens up the World Junior Championships on Dec. 27 against Germany in Ufa, Russia.