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Published December 17 2010

Life starting to get hectic for UND recruit J.T. Miller

North Dakota hockey commit J.T. Miller is getting an idea of what the next few years will be like, even though he won’t arrive on campus until Saturday.

Miller spent Thursday waiting in an airport to catch a flight to play a two-game weekend series, something most North Dakota hockey players are quite familiar with. Miller and his United States National Development Team Program teammates will be in Fargo tonight where they will play the Fargo Force before arriving in Grand Forks a day later to play an exhibition game against North Dakota.

“You try and treat it like it’s a regular weekend,” said the 17-year-old Miller, who will play in North Dakota for the first time since committing to the Sioux. “But you know things won’t be too regular because we’ll playing against North Dakota and aside from the competition, it will be different playing in front of 10,000 to 12,000 people.”

The USNDTP plays in the United States Hockey League against the Force, but is also having its first weekend split this season. Playing college teams in exhibition games is normal for the USNDTP this time of year.

Goal No. 1 for Miller will be to help the USNDTP pick up a win and grab some points in the standings.

Another goal he’ll have is to show Sioux fans on Saturday and today what they can expect in the next few years.

“He’s always had the physical tools and he can skate, shoot and pass,” said USNDTP coach Ron Rolston. “He has continued to play a more mature game away from the puck.”

At 6-1 and 198 pounds, he’s a power forward that with 10 points is tied for third on the USNTDP in scoring.

Nine of his points have come via the assist, but Miller hopes to change that trend by scoring a few goals.

“There have just been a couple of shots that just have not gone in yet,” Miller said. “I hope that changes soon.”

There is a possibility this could be the weekend where Miller can grab a goal.

Miller said the team will be fielding three lines instead of four. Part of that has to do with players such as fellow Sioux commit Rocco Grimaldi being at the Team USA camp for the U-20 World Junior Championships.

Furthermore, Scheels Arena has been rather kind to visiting UND commits this season.

Sioux City defenseman Jordan Schmaltz is the most recent example. He recorded two goals and a shootout winner against the Force just a few weeks ago.

“There’s no question our focus is on the first game on Friday night,” Rolston said. “We have not won a road game yet for the U-18 in the USHL and that’s our goal on Friday.”

Miller said he didn’t have anything special planned for Saturday other than just playing the game.

But there are still some things to consider. Namely like what he will major in. He hasn’t decided yet but did say he had an interest in pursuing something in sports management.

That could come in handy with Miller’s goal being the NHL.

“The style of play they have at UND is tough and hard-nosed and that’s my style of play,” Miller said. “That’s a place that has produced so many good players and a lot of them have gone to the NHL, which for me, is the ultimate goal.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548