Abbey Miller controls her intensity to flourish as Syracuse ice hockey’s starting goalie
Leigh Ann Rodgers | Contributing Photographer
Syracuse didn’t have a starting goalie starting the season. After 148 saves and two shutouts, Abbey Miller has secured the starting goaltender position for SU.
On Friday and Saturday, Miller became the first goalie in program history to shutout the same team twice in one weekend when SU blanked Lindenwood.
Despite Syracuse finishing its first six games winless, Miller was named the College Hockey America Goalie of the Week after recording 49 saves over two games against then-fifth-ranked Colgate.
The next day, SU head coach Paul Flanagan named her the starter.
So far, she’s led Syracuse (2-4-2, 2-0-0 CHA) to its first two wins of the season. Overall, Miller touts a 93.7 save percentage and is averaging only 1.40 goals against per game. She’s been Syracuse’s most consistent player this season.
Miller, a junior, spent the first two years of her SU career on the bench. She watched junior transfer Jenn Gilligan record the second-best career save percentage in SU history. Now that she has her chance, Miller is making the most of it.
“Three or four weeks ago, we didn’t know who would be starting in net,” Flanagan said “She used to get frustrated, she played behind Gilligan.”
Sam Ogozalek | Staff Writer
Becoming a steady goalie for Syracuse required Miller to shed an problem that has plagued her since high school. In her senior year, head coach Dave Herbst said Miller broke six sticks out of frustration.
During Syracuse’s 3-2 loss to Colgate, Miller’s overthinking resulted in a goal when the goalie lunged at a Colgate forward, who slid back slightly and put a shot past Miller’s left shoulder.
“When I start thinking, that’s when things go bad for me,” Miller said.
“We had to talk to her and tell her to pull it back in. She had to channel that energy from a negative to a positive,” said Herbst.
Working with goalie coach Sanya Sandahl in high school, Miller would wake up at 5 a.m. the day before games to drive to the local community rink. She would work on her lateral movement and practice tracking the puck.
Now at SU, Miller gets extra practice three to four days a week. At 8 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, she gets extra shot practice. Despite cutting down on her in-game mistakes, Flanagan said Miller still vents about her mistakes. The SU head coach said he’s dealt with goalies that like to internalize their frustration. Miller’s frustration oozes out.
“I hear them more than I see them,” Flanagan said before mimicking what Miller’s venting sounds, which he compares to “ a Charlie Brown noise.”
During Syracuse’s first win against Lindenwood, Miller was tested by a shot from the blue line. She snagged the puck out of the air and stared at the puck in her glove, nodding to herself before handing it to the official.
In a season where she is putting it all together, Miller can laugh at the moments where her intensity gets the better of her.
“This year I’ve gone through one,” Miller said of how many sticks she’s broken. “It’s not that bad.”
Published on November 2, 2016 at 9:57 pm
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