Whit Chandler was only able to procure a 10:30 PM ice time slot for Rick’s crash course in goaltending. Throughout his whole career Rick had never had a coach teach him how to play goal. All he got from them was criticism of his performance. On Wednesday, December 5, 1967 this suddenly changed. As promised Coach Reynolds brought along his number one goalie Brent Peterson.
Coach Reynolds told Whit Chandler to stay in the stands and just observe as he and Brent taught Rick. To start off Coach Reynolds sent Brent to the net. He asked Rick to closely observe Brent’s posture and how he always kept his goal stick flat on the ice. Next Brent demonstrated how he cut down the angles. Brent showed Rick how to stop different kinds of shots. High shots, low shots, slap-shots and wrist shots were all included in Rick’s crash course in the art and science of goaltending. Coach Reynolds put Rick in goal to practise what he’d just watched Brent do. When the one-hour session was over, Rick was completely exhausted. He was so tired that it took him a long time to take his equipment off. Brent walked up to Rick and sat right beside him on the bench in the dressing room.
“I just want to tell you that you did really well out there tonight, but we still have a lot of work to do. Coach Reynolds will book the ice time again for sometime next week. In the mean time I’m going to give you some homework.” Brent handed Rick a copy of Lloyd Percival’s Hockey Handbook. He told Rick to read and study the chapter on goaltending and to start practising some of the suggested exercises on his own.
Rick attended and participated in two more private training sessions with Craig Peterson and Coach Reynolds. Rick had absorbed a lot of new strategies to help his individual play. On a Thursday night following his last practice, Rick saw his newly acquired skills start to pay off. The Cougars were playing a team from the north end of the city. The Cougar’s opponents were ranked very close to the Cougars in the league standings. Northwood’s strategy for the game was to intimidate the Cougars with a punishing physical confrontation. The Northwood Raiders did everything in their power to engage the Cougar players into fights. They hacked, slashed, tripped and tried every illegal tactic to draw the Cougars off their game. The Cougars were a relatively small hockey team that was not known for aggressive play on the ice. The Cougars really had only one player that was a scoring threat and a Raiders player managed to engage him in a fight during the first period that led to his expulsion from the game.
By the start of the second period Northwood had the Cougars on the run. The smaller team was by now totally intimidated and their one scoring threat was out of the game. The Cougars now did not believe that they could win this game. Their revised goal was to get out of this arena alive. The game officials appeared to have been bought off by the Northwood Raiders. They refused to call penalties on even the most egregious infractions. Several of the Cougars white road jerseys now displayed blood stains.
Amazingly after all this mayhem the game was still scoreless going into the third period. The reason was the outstanding play of Rick Miller in goal. Rick stopped shots from every conceivable angle including three breakaways. This heroic effort by the Cougars goalie caused Northwood to become frustrated and dispirited. It was as if Rick’s superb play had drained the fight right out of the Raiders.
The Cougars capitalized on some late game lackadaisical play by Northwood and scored two quick goals. With time running out the Raider’s coach chose to pull their goalie in order to acquire a sixth attacker. This strategy backfired when the Cougars scored an empty net insurance goal.
At the final buzzer the Cougar players left the bench and mobbed Rick. They knew who won the game for them.