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Examiner
  • Popular Mavs rookie Miller gives club huge boost

  • If you want to see a smile appear on any member of the Missouri Mavericks’ face, just ask about rookie Kenton Miller.

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  • If you want to see a smile appear on any member of the Missouri Mavericks’ face, just ask about rookie Kenton Miller.
    The farm boy from Western Canada looks like he could be the senior class president of a local high school, or a youngster working on his Eagle Scout project.
    Instead, he was a CHL Rookie of the Year finalist and led the Mavericks with a team-record 30-goal season.
    “Millsie spent so much time with our AHL (American Hockey League) affiliate in Chicago, I can’t imagine how many goals he might have had if he had been with us all season,” Mavericks coach Scott Hillman said after Blue Springs resident and American Royal grand prize barbecue winner Todd Johns surprised the team with a pulled pork lunch at the Independence Events Center.
    “He’s such a big, likable kid. You see that smile, and it just makes you smile. Then, he gets on the ice and watch out – the potential is unlimited. He could be a great one, one day.”
    Miller was just named the Oakley CHL Player of the Week for the final week of the regular season. He led the Mavericks to a 3-1-0 record and had five goals in the first three games of the week, including two multiple-goal performances. He finished with a total of eight points in the four games and had a plus-2 rating.
    He also earned the Third Star in the Oakley Three Star Player of the Month for March with his 17 points, including 11 goals. He was selected as first star twice, second star twice and third star once.
    The Redvers, Saskatchewan, native broke the Mavericks’ single-season record for goals in a season with his 30th goal in the Mavericks' 4-0 win over the Allen Americans Saturday night. He finished second on the team in scoring with 51 points in just 53 games played.
    When asked about breaking his teammate Sebastien Thinel’s goal record, a sheepish grin appeared on Miller’s face.
    “I know he’s fine with it,” Miller said. “I, uh, hope he’s fine with it.”
    He is.
    “Millsie is my boy,” said Thinel, the 2012-13 CHL MVP who held the previous record of 29 goals in a season. “Records are made to be broken. I’m happy for him. He’s going to be breaking a lot of records on every level he plays.”
    A compliment from Thinel brings a smile to Miller’s face.
    “Oh, wow, I feel so lucky to play with Sebbie and Jards (veteran forward Ryan Jardine, who has played in the NHL),” Miller said. “I’ve learned so much from them. And it is all so positive. They are never negative, they just want to help, to make me a better player.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think Sebbie assisted on about 29 of my 30 goals.”
    It’s not just the veterans who enjoy Miller’s presence on the team.
    His rookie linemate Kellan Tochkin is another big fan.
    “Millsie doesn’t even know how good he is, or how good he can be,” Tochkin said. “When we’re sitting around, talking about the guys on the team, he’s the one guy everyone thinks is going to be playing in the NHL someday – he’s that good.”
    Miller picked an opportune time to enjoy one of his most productive weeks in the CHL.
    “Now is the time you want to play your best hockey,” Miller said. “And I think we are. We had the great win at Allen, and we won five of our last seven games. It’s just an exciting time.
    “I really didn’t know what to expect this season, and I couldn’t have asked for more. I love this team and our coaches and we have the best fans in the league. When I skated out our first practice and saw something like 75 or 100 fans in the stands, for a practice, I was like, ‘This is the place I want to play.’”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
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