Aaron Miller may not have started the season with the Minnesota Wilderness but he's no stranger to them.
Miller was a very important piece of the puzzle for them last season as they stormed their way to an NAHL Robertson Cup Championship.
After playing briefly in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede, where in four games had one goal and three assists, Miller was back in the NAHL with the Wilderness.
Last year he amassed 21 goals and 39 assists with a +23 in 59 games. In the post-season he scored three goals and 10 assists with a +6 to lead Minnesota to the Robertson Cup.
This year he's off to a strong start: in 12 games has four goals and 10 assists with a +9.
So what's different from last year?
"Stepping up and being a role model, leader, and producing at the same time," said Miller. While a few of the faces from last year's squad remain, Miller has taken up helping younger players adjust to the rigors of a long junior hockey season.
Like long road trips.
"We played at Janesville, which took 6 1/2 hours to get to, play a Wednesday night game at home, get on the bus at 9am Thursday to travel 10 hours to Springfield Illinois. This week we go up to Minot, North Dakota for a series and after Thanksgiving play in Janesville."
The Wilderness, who are located in Cloquet, Minnesota, are not far from Superior, which fits Miller--a 2014 Superior HS grad--just fine.
So will Bemidji State.
Miller, who is an outdoors type, really likes the campus and the coaching staff. "The coaching staff really connected well with me and take an interest in me, which is good to have in college."
This spring, the Wilderness will be trying to defend their Cup title. Miller says while the roster does have some new faces, a lot of teammates are now 20 year-olds who been through a playoff run.
So what about the younger players who have not?
"We have a bunch of returning players who been through the playoffs and know what it takes to win and be leaders and hopefully the younger guys will follow in the footsteps."
Just like Miller did last season.