For two seasons in the early 1970s, Jim Miller of Fort Frances helped lead Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota to a pair of MIAC titles.
Last Saturday, the college rewarded the former Muskie by inducting him—along with six others—into its Athletic Hall of Fame.
It was a fitting distinction for a player who had a stellar career playing for the “Gusties” after transferring there from Rainy River Junior College back in 1970.
In fact, Miller tallied 39 goals in 39 games—and still ranks third in the school's history in average career points per game at 1.82—while attending the private college in St. Peter, just south of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.
Those are impressive numbers for a player described by his former coach, Don Roberts, as “tenacious." And Roberts, who brought hockey back to Gustavus in 1965 and just recently retired from the coaching ranks after 32 years, has seen a lot of players suit up for the "Gusties.”
“Oh, he was something to watch," recalled Roberts from his home in St. Peter last week. ”He was a fluid skater and he could shoot the puck.
“When Jim hit the ice, you knew something was going to happen.”
And happen it did. Miller, a two-time all-conference and All-America selection, led the “Gusties” to an impressive 31-12 regular-season record in two seasons—and helped them to a pair of NAIA tournament appearances (finishing fourth in 1971 and second in 1972).
Miller also earned the team's Most Valuable Player award in 1971.
“We had a pretty good bunch of kids and Jim was always on our No. 1 or No. 2 line," noted Roberts. "We were a smaller, private school but we had teams that were as good as Division I.”
After graduating with a major in physical education, Miller went on to play professionally in the Western International Hockey League from 1973-1980.
He then began working in the construction business operating heavy-duty equipment, and is now employed as a welder with Crestbrook Forest Industries in Cranbrook, B.C., where he lives with his wife, Sophie, and their son, Dean.
His mother, Bethel Miller, still lives in Fort Frances, along with numerous other family members.