Guarding the crease for the highly competitive Wisconsin River Falls Falcons, goaltender Sami Miller delivered on all accounts. An essential contributor in a fantastic 2021-22 season, the Falcons soared to the top of the WIAC standings with a program record 27 wins. The pride of Spring Lake Park, Minnesota, emerged as the finest goaltender in conference play.
Statistically, the numbers reflected a brilliance that spoke for themselves. Amassing a solid 16 wins, compared to only two losses, Miller enjoyed eight shutouts and a sparkling 1.45 Goals Against Average, respectively. As a side note, Miller also recorded 16 wins in the 2019-20 season, including five shutouts and 519 saves.
Gaining a place among the CCM/AHCA All-America team, the milestone took on a proud sense of teamwork and unity. Among four fantastic Falcons recognized with All-America status, tying Plattsburgh State for the most selections, Callie Hoff, also the recipient of the Laura Hurd Award, Abigail Stow and Kara Torkelson joined Miller among this celebrated group.
“It was such an honor to be recognized as an All-American. Being able to play for UWRF has given me the opportunity to play with some of the best D3 women’s hockey players in the country and to be able to accomplish this. It was awesome for our team and our program!”
Equally exceptional for an accomplished Miller involved her sterling academic achievement. Earning multiple AHCA All-America Scholar Honors in 2020 and 2021, maintaining a 4.0 GPA also placed her on the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll. As a side note, during high school, Miller enjoyed standing as a member of the National Honor Society.
Managing to balance the demands of competitive play, providing stellar play between the pipes, while maintaining strong commitment in the classroom demonstrated a tremendous character. Embodying the essence of a student-athlete, Miller already ponders the future with optimism, grateful at the confidence cultivated via her time with Wisconsin River-Falls.
“I think that this is exactly what playing D3 hockey has been able to provide me with, a balance of academics and athletics. The people at UWRF have truly set me up for success on and off the ice and I am thankful for them to make these accomplishments possible.”
Among Miller’s accomplishments, perhaps the most notable factor involves the ability to rebound from a setback. After suffering a 2-0 road loss to the archrival Wisconsin Eau-Claire Blugolds on November 20, 2021, both teams entering the match without a loss, Miller bounced back. Going undefeated for the remainder of the regular season, a series of memorable highlights involved shutouts in two critical games, affirming her standing among the elites of Division III goaltenders.
Once again, a road effort versus Wisconsin Eau-Claire proved critical. Opposing the No. 5 ranked Blugolds on February 19, Miller assembled a 24 save effort, gaining her fifth shutout of the season. Prevailing by a 2-0 tally, with Alex Hantge and Emma Schmitz supplying the goals, the result was the WIAC regular season title and the number one seed for the conference tournament.
Recognized for her efforts as the RCU Female Falcon of the Week, Miller also earned the WIAC Kwik Trip women’s ice hockey Player of the Week Award. Recording a total of 45 saves in a weekend sweep of the Blugolds, also enjoying a 4-1 win on February , her assiduousness between the pipes proved essential in finishing first. As a side note, the honor set the tone for another conference accolade, joining Buffalo State goaltender Soleil Archambault as WIAC All-Star selections.
Heading into the O’Brien Cup playoffs, Miller enjoyed consecutive shutouts versus UW-Superior, both 6-0 scores in a convincing sweep. Challenging the Blugolds in the Cup Finals, Miller posted 25 saves. With a slim 4-3 advantage, she denied their offense in the third period, preserving the Falcons lead in a 6-3 final and the jubilation of hoisting the conference championship.
Fittingly, Miller’s final victory of the season allowed her to add to a sterling shutout total this season. Occurring in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Tournament, Miller’s eighth of the season, saw the Falcons blank the Aurora Spartans in a convincing 7-0 final, the exclamation point to a season filled with proud moments.
“I think those wins were a highlight for me. Especially, with UWEC being one of our big rivals and playing good hockey at the right time, which is always the goal.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Featured image by: S Silver Photography