Nelson Leafs captain Rayce Miller scored with only a few minutes left in the third period of Saturday night’s game, but a second strong shot careened off the post and left the team sitting 2-1 behind Grand Forks when the final buzzer went off. The 20-year-old was frustrated with the result, but proud of the performance his fellow players put in.
“I don’t think we tested their goalie earlier on like we should’ve,” said Miller, who led a five-minute onslaught on the net in the final moments of the game. “At the end there he made some good saves, for sure, but if we had that intensity throughout the game we would’ve popped some more and won.”
That’s not what happened.
“I thought we were going to get one for sure,” he said. “We were buzzing all over them, everyone was winning draws and taking the puck to the net, and I thought we were going to pop one but we just couldn’t get it to go our way.”
The last-minute assault came after some early missteps, but Miller believes they’ll learn from their mistakes.
“We just got to communicate better, and that’s an easy fix. Most teams go through that. We shot ourselves in the foot early on. We had those mistakes but we battled back. Everyone out on the ice, we all came together, we just didn’t get the result we wanted.”
It was Jordan Davie who made his goal possible.
“Joe made this great pass. I saw him coming down the wall, he snuck up by the net and I knew it was coming. He put it right on my tape, then I put it in the top right corner.”
Miller said Grand Forks is a solid team.
“They’ve made a huge improvement from last year and earlier this year. It was fun. I’m looking forward to playing them again.”
He feels the Leafs have gelled as a unit.
“The team’s great. We’re a tight-knit group and we’re facing some adversity right now, but we’re going to get through it.”
And though he lost some teeth earlier this year, and now sports a brownish-purple scar on his upper lip, he’s still going strong. Miller said he wants to lead by example, and he’s buoyed by the solidarity of his teammates.
“I get my new teeth on Monday the 23rd,” he said.