With 16 players returning from last year’s roster, the Prince George Spruce Kings are once again primed to be near the top of the BC Hockey League standings. Among the many veterans who are back is 20-year-old forward Rowan Miller.
The Scottsdale, AZ product came to the league’s most northern franchise prior to last season but was unable to enjoy the full-on experience with the Spruce Kings and like everyone else, had to play in a pod.
While in Chilliwack, Miller quickly felt at home with PG, consistently playing among the Spruce Kings’ top-six forwards and averaging near a point-per-game with five goals and nine assists in 20 games.
“It was a unique experience. We got to see the NHL do it in their playoffs and it was a cool experience staying in a hotel with all of your teammates, building that chemistry, and having a nice bond with them.”
“It was a tight schedule. It kind of brought me back to my minor hockey days – it didn’t quite feel like it was a tournament but it was fun. Being able to do what we needed to do made the season more enjoyable,” added Miller.
Ready to lead
For his part, Miller heads into the 2021-22 campaign as an alternate captain eyeing more on-ice success individually, and as a team.
“I think we have a great group. A lot of good people here, a lot of respected kids, and they all come with a good work ethic, which is what we need here in Prince George. This is my last season and I am very excited to get it started with the fans coming back and I am happy to finally play in front of our fans for the very first time.”
While skilled forwards Andrew Seaman and Christian Buono are gone, the Spruce Kings boast a pretty formidable forward group with returnees like Miller, John Herrington, Kolton Cousins, and Nick Rheaume.
Miller admits it was a rather unique life experience growing up in Arizona, where hockey is growing in popularity but far from the number one sport.
The 20-year-old had the opportunity to watch state-bred products like Auston Matthews work through the minor hockey system to become now one of the best pure goal scorers in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s a totally different hockey world down there when compared to up here (in Canada). However, it was because you got to work with the Coyotes and it was cool because you got to travel the country whether it was playing in tournaments or different teams such as LA or Anaheim.”
“But when I came up here, it was a totally different game. Everyone is super motivated and they live and breathe hockey. In Arizona, people love hockey, but afterward a lot of us would go to the beach after.”
Miller’s favourite player growing up was none other than Canadian hockey icon and Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby.
“I used to watch those little Sidney Crosby superstar documentaries. There (he was) as a kid or fresh starting out (in the NHL) and I think that is what motivated me to do those little extra things away from the rink.”
After playing for the San Jose Sharks 13U AAA program in 2014-15, Miller spent two seasons with the Phoenix Junior Coyotes, first in U14 and then in U15 AAA, before deciding to try his luck up north.
Miller is no stranger to British Columbia, having played at the U18 level with the South Island Royals in 2017-18 and tallying 28 points in 39 games.
After a brief look-see at junior B with the Victoria Cougars of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, Miller made the cut at the BCHL level with the Powell River Kings. In 99 regular season games with Powell River, Miller recorded 28 points over two seasons. A trade on June 1, 2020 brought him to Prince George.
The Spruce Kings begin the regular season on Oct. 8 in Merritt against the Centennials at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.