- In less than a week, Andrew Miller accomplished two of his biggest life goals.
Just days after winning the NCAA Championship over the Quinnipiac Bobcats at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Miller, captain of the Yale Bulldogs, signed a one-year entry level contract with the Edmonton Oilers.
"Winning the national championship was a dream," said Miller. "Soaking that all in over past few days and now signing, it's been quite a surreal experience. One day I'll be able to wake up, step back and really appreciate it."
Playing in his fourth season in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the 24-year-old had a career year with Yale. In 37 games, Miller collected 18 goals (the last of which was scored in the third period of the championship game) and 41 points.
Miller was also named the Ivy League Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound winger scored the overtime-winner to defeat UMass-Lowell in the semifinal.
"We couldn't have scripted it a better way," said Miller. "Before you go, you have dreams of winning and we'd obviously made it that far, but still, our road wasn't easy. We had two games against two of the best college hockey teams in the world. Scoring that goal was absolutely incredible. But, to be honest, it's hard to appreciate those moments because of the nerves and all you're focused on and all you want is to win.
"It was unbelievable. The atmosphere in Pittsburgh and in that rink was incredible and we couldn't have won the game in a better fashion."
Yale defeated Minnesota, North Dakota and UMass-Lowell en route to the championship game. Once there, the Bulldogs ran roughshod over the top-ranked Bobcats, clobbering them 4-0 to win their first NCAA Division 1 Championship.
Describing himself as a "dynamic goal scorer," Miller is most proud of his ability as a playmaker. In 141 career games in the ECAC, the shifty forward has recorded 156 points -- 114 of them helpers, which puts him as Yale's all-time assists leader.
"This is a wonderful school with an even better hockey program," said Miller. "It doesn't really get the respect that it deserves throughout the country and in the hockey world, but we proved it should earlier this week. Plus, you can't get any better than the coaches we have here. Keith (Allain, Bulldogs Head Coach) has been an excellent mentor to me and everyone else on the team. We're extremely fortunate to have that kind of leadership in our dressing room.
"Playing at Yale has been an unbelievable experience."
Another Oilers prospect, 24-year-old Mark Arcobello also graduated from Yale and put up comparable numbers Miller's in his senior year.
Miller will not report to the Oilers or Oklahoma City Barons this season. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich. product has invested four years in his post-secondary education, studying political science, and must be present at Yale in order to graduate.
"It's not possible for me to leave and still graduate," he laughed.
"It gives me a little extra time to train and work on my weaknesses, like my strength and my speed. And I know that if I want to play at the next level, I have to improve in all areas of the game. That's what I plan to focus on over the off-season."
While "multiple" teams had expressed interest in signing the Frozen Four standout, the Oilers had beaten everyone to the punch. On a scouting mission earlier this season, General Manager Craig MacTavish was busy exploring all avenues in the college free agent market.
"The Oilers were interested and wanted to get involved after my college career ended," said Miller.
"I'm so thankful they did."
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com | Follow me on Twitter @ryandittrick