From Canada to Thunderbirds, Miner makes plans for ’22-23 by signing NAHL tender with Springfield
Scotty Miner grew up honing his skills in the Winnipeg area and was exploring his options for this current season when he happened upon the Colorado Thunderbirds.
And it appears the 2005 birth year will be staying south of the border a bit longer as the Thunderbirds’ 16U AAA standout has signed an NAHL tender with the Springfield Jr. Blues for the 2022-23 season.
“The Springfield Jr. Blues have tendered players from the Colorado Thunderbirds program in the past, so I know they follow our team closely,” Miner said. “I was contacted by Tyler Rennette, the head coach of the Jr. Blues, and asked about my plans for next year and where I see myself playing. Since I graduate this year, I want to play for a junior team in the U.S. as my ultimate goal is the NCAA. (Thunderbirds assistant director of hockey operations) David Clarkson spoke highly of the Springfield program and how they are known to develop younger players. That said, when I was offered the tender, I did some research on the team and program and felt it was the best fit for my development.”
Miner added that there is a great deal of appeal and excitement surrounding Springfield.
“I was really impressed with my conversation with Coach Rennette as he not only took the time to personally call me, but also reached out to my parents first to introduce himself and discuss his program,” said Miner. “Coach Rennette spoke to both of us about how important it is to develop younger players and move them to the next level. This was a selling factor for me as I want to play for a team where I will get ice time, and I trust this will happen next year with Rennette as a coach.
“As for leaving home, this season with the Thunderbirds gave me the opportunity to experience the billet environment, and I have adapted very easily. I won’t have school to worry about next season so I will be able to get more involved in the community during my spare time.”
Miner, who skipped a grade in middle school and will graduate this year at 17, said the move to the United States was necessary with all that is happening with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For the last three years, I played in a very competitive league in Western Canada called the CSSHL,” Miner said. “I always played age-advanced, so I have been used to a challenging, fast-paced game. That said, I have been able to adapt quite easily to the style and pace of the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League. On a personal level, I have really enjoyed getting to know all my new teammates as well as meeting new friends at school. The city of Denver has so much to offer compared to where I come from in Canada so that, too, has given me the opportunity to see and do things that I wouldn’t normally do back home.
“Having missed most of the season last year due to COVID restrictions in Canada, I didn’t want to risk not playing again this year. I attended a few USHL camps this past spring and got the same feedback – it was evident that I had not played competitively. That said, my advisor started to explore opportunities in the U.S. and the Thunderbirds were one of the teams that reached out immediately. They saw film and felt that I could definitely contribute to their program. After researching the program and getting to know the coaching staff, I felt that it would be a good fit. I am very happy with my decision as the training and development has been exceptional and the exposure to junior and college teams due to the number of games is a huge bonus.”
Stellar coaching with the Thunderbirds is another aspect of the 2021-22 season that Miner feels will help him succeed in the NAHL.
“The training and development offered through the Colorado Thunderbirds program is excellent,” said Miner. “Having Ken Klee as head coach allows me to learn so much from a player who has played at the highest level. The Thunderbirds program gives me the tools needed to further develop my game, but I know it is up to me to push myself to be ready for next season. I am hopeful that we make it to nationals to be up against some of the best players in the country and prove that I am ready to make the jump to juniors next season.
“I feel the NA will offer me the best development and exposure towards my goal of playing in the NCAA. As a 17-year-old, I have a lot of time to prove myself to colleges and thus, I want to play in a league that will give me that opportunity. You need to play to be seen, and I trust that Coach Rennette will give me that chance to showcase my skills.”
Still with youth on his side, Miner has started to look to the future, on and off the ice.
“Like any hockey player, my long-term goal is to play in the NHL,” Miner said. “I realize, though, that it takes hard work and dedication to get there and only the best make it. That said, I feel education is very important and want to ensure I have a backup plan. I am leaning towards the field of engineering. I have a 4.0 GPA and will graduate a year early, so I have already started to research colleges that offer a reputable engineering program.
“My short-term goal is to excel in the U.S. junior leagues over the next few years with the hopes of getting an NCAA commitment to obtain a degree while continuing to develop my game.”
— Matt Mackinder
(February 17, 2022)