Lawrence Academy goalie Brandon Milberg committed to Sacred Heart last week, joining a program that is making noise in college hockey this season and seems to be on the rise.
Milberg is originally from Ontario but moved to New England to play prep hockey last season. In 13 games for Lawrence Academy last season, Milberg posted a .920 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average.
NZ: Let’s start all the way back at the beginning. What first got you into the sport as a kid?
Milberg: “My dad was a goalie growing up. He played Junior A hockey and I got into it when I was super young. I was playing in a league around age four or five. (My dad) was a big mentor for me and got me playing right away and I fell in love with it.”
NZ: Your dad being a goalie, is that part of what attracted you to the position?
Milberg: “It was kind of a coincidence. When I was young we were doing the thing where everyone switches and plays goalie. Every week we had a different goalie. I was skating out as a player for about two weeks and then it was my turn to be the goalie. As soon as I did it, I loved it. From that point on, I never switched back out. I don’t think I ever used my player equipment again. I just fell in love with being a goalie and that’s never changed.”
NZ: You’re from Ontario, where there is obviously a lot of hockey. What went into your decision to come down to New England and play prep school hockey here?
Milberg: “My goal has always been to get a scholarship and play college hockey. That was something that I’ve had my mind on since I was 14 or 15 years old. Academics have always been important to me as well, and there is a huge value that I saw in prep hockey and so did my family. I saw that prep hockey would give me the best chance to continue at a high academic and athletic level, and it’s given me a great chance to develop.”
NZ: Was there a big adjustment for you? Playing near Toronto you were close to home, but now you’ve moved away and have been on your own for a couple of years.
Milberg: “The experience for me down here has been great. I think I adjusted pretty quickly last year. I tend to think of myself as an individual person. I’ve met a ton of friends at school and the hockey has been great, it’s super competitive, but I think I am OK being on my own, but it is an adjustment not having your family around. The hockey part has been huge for me. In Canada, we have some prep schools like St. Andrew’s, but nothing is as competitive as it is here and leagues like the ISL don’t really exist in Canada.”
NZ: It seems like a lot of the players that played at Hill Academy, where you were, or St. Andrew’s, they all end up in prep school here in the U.S. or in the USHL or something.
Milberg: “Yeah, you get scouted more a lot down here. You see coaches and scouts lining up on the glass every single game, so your exposure goes way up.”
NZ: As you were going through your recruiting process, what impressed you about Sacred Heart?
Milberg: “Their program is up-and-coming. They’re doing extremely well this year and the coaching staff, right from the beginning, has been amazing towards me. When I first started getting recruited last year, they told me that they had a lot of respect for me and thought I would fit well on their campus. I went down for a visit and the campus is beautiful. It’s the perfect fit for me, because it’s a school with high academics and a program that’s rising up.
“I’ve been following them a lot this year and they’re killing it. Being ranked for the first time in program history is huge.”
NZ: How would you describe your style?
Milberg: “I’m someone who likes to try to keep my game as simple as possible. The calmer I am, the calmer my team is. I’m not someone who dives and flops all over the place. My goal is to make the saves look as easy as possible. That slows the game down.”
NZ: What areas are a focus this year as far as improvement goes?
Milberg: “I want to get stronger in the gym. That’s a big focal point this year. I need to be as explosive as possible. I also want to continue to work on playing the puck. I like getting back behind the net and becoming the third defenseman. I’ve been working a lot on moving the puck to the half wall and making the right decision behind the net.”