Deer Lakes’ Shane Miller played hockey in Russia
Shane Miller began his junior of high school year off-campus, approximately 5,228 miles off campus to be exact. Miller, who plays for the Esmark Stars Travel Hockey Club, spent the first week of the school year competing in Russia as part of an eight-day tournament in the Tartarstan Republic city of Nizhnekamsk.
After spending more than 18 hours total traveling to the Central Russian city, Miller and his teammates competed in one of the most prestigious youth hockey tournaments in Europe and partaking in Russian culture.
“We were the only American team there, so when we first got there a lot of people were staring at us trying to get a read on us,” said Miller, whose father, Jeffrey was also on the trip. “However, the kids we played against and their parents were so warm and welcoming to our entire group and we had a wonderful time.”
According to Miller, he and his teammates were only responsible for their airfare to and from the host nation. Everything else from food and lodging to ice time were complements of their hosts. “They were wonderful hosts,” he said. “We had a police escort everywhere we went and we had a translator and a Russian hockey coach with us too.”
The young men played in the city’s SCC Arena, which houses HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, a team in the Kontinental Hockey League, Russia’s NHL equivalent.
Though Russia is obviously an ancient country with centuries of tradition, Nizhnekamsk is actually a relatively new city. Founded in 1966 and spurred by the construction of the Nizhnekamskneftekhim petrochemical industrial complex, the city remains an important center of the petrochemical industry.
During their trip, the team also toured Kazan, Tatarstan’s largest city and capital. With a population of 1,243,500, Kazan, which was founded in the tenth century, remains Russia’s sixth largest city.
As a hockey player, Miller is no stranger to traveling far distances for games. The center iceman had previously traveled to Minnesota and Quebec City for tournaments. However, this latest experience topped them all. Still, Miller would like to experience a new destination for his next trip.
“Russia was awesome,” gushed Miller. “We all really had a great time there on and off the ice. However, I think trips like this really open your eyes to just how big the world truly is and it would be amazing to experience somewhere else the next time around.”