ALLEN, TX – There is no former Allen player I get asked about more than Brian McMillin who ranks fourth all-time in games played (215) for the Americans. Being a fellow Minnesotan who loves to hunt and fish we became friends when he first arrived in Allen back in 2010. The first story I ever posted about a hockey wife was about Wendy McMillin, “Hockey Wife and Sports Star” and to this day it is one of the most popular stories I have written.
After playing in France last season, Brian and Wendy (they truly are a team) have retired from professional hockey and moved back to their hometown of Roseau, Minnesota. Brian has taken a job as a financial advisor and Wendy still works (remotely) for the same company she worked for when they lived in north Texas. They have recently purchased their first home.
Brian retired from hockey the same way he played hockey, low key with no fanfare. He was a team player that did what was asked of him on and off the ice. He was always well liked by the fans, his teammates and the front office, who used him for numerous public appearances which he always gladly agreed to do.
As with most professional hockey players, Brian was a standout in high school and was a big time scorer. As the senior captain of his team, he had 59 points (27 goals 32 assists) in 30 games. After receiving a scholarship from Colorado College he quickly learned his key to playing time as a freshman was checking, defensive play and as a penalty killer. In fact, his first shift as a collegian was a penalty killer on a five on three power play. Brian had a successful four-year career on the ice at Colorado College but also excelled in the classroom graduating with a 3.75 GPA and a degree in Mathematical Economics. He received numerous scholar-athlete awards including being named to the academic all-conference (WCHA) team twice and in 2010 was chosen as the top student-athlete in men’s varsity sports at Colorado College.
Brian’s professional hockey career took him everywhere from Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Coventry, England to Dijon, France but he will always be remembered as a three-time champion with the Allen Americans. His five seasons in Allen are the most seasons with the team (tied with Jarret Lukin) of any player in franchise history.
Brian’s hallmark as a professional was his consistency, hard work and playing smart. By his own admission, he didn’t have the high-end talent of some players so he had to earn everything he accomplished.
The highlight of McMillin’s hockey career would have to be the first Allen championship in 2013. Brian had a good regular season with 30 points (15 goals 15 assists) in 58 games but exploded in the playoffs. In the opening round against Denver, Brian carried the Allen offense, scoring five of the team’s 18 goals. In the semifinals against Missouri, a seven-game series, McMillin had a goal and four assists in the first six games and in the deciding seventh game he was a catalyst with a pair of goals. In the finals against Wichita, another seven-game series, Brian once again led the team, scoring goals in games two, three, four and six.
Brian finished the 2013 playoffs with 12 goals, three more than any other player, he was second in points (20), fourth in plus/minus (+8) and first in game-winning goals (3) including the game-winning goal in games two and four in the finals. For his effort, he was voted the playoff MVP.
At the time (2013) coach Steve Martinson had this to say about McMillin, “I am happy for Brian McMillin being selected MVP. His perseverance and work ethic has really paid off for him. He doesn’t complain, he works hard and quietly goes about his business. He is a great example for others.”
Here is a video where you can relive the 2013 championship which includes the MVP presentation to Brian which is at the 3:55 mark.
When reminiscing with coach Martinson this past week about Brian he had this to say, “With Brian, you always knew what you were getting on the ice. You could put him out in any situation. He always worked hard and worked smart. He was definitely a glue guy on the team. He really stepped up and led the team during the 2013 playoffs. During most of his career, he was in a defensive role playing against the other team’s top line and killing penalties. But players like Brian who were big time scorers when they played youth/high school hockey never lose the confidence in their ability to score when given the chance. That is what happened in the 2013 playoffs. Brian was given more ice time including on the power play and he responded. He wasn’t afraid to use his size in front of the net and he was a fierce shot blocker.”
When Brian re-signed with Allen in 2014 coach Martinson had this to say, “Brian McMillin is a glue guy who understands our system. He leads by example and does everything you ask him to do. He makes our team better. Brian will help our overall team defensively. He was our top defensive player last year and will help at both ends of the rink. He is a leader by example. We will have a lot of new forwards this year. Having Brian makes my job easier as he understands all of our systems and will help our new players make the transition.”
For Brian and Wendy McMillin the goal out of college was to just play professional hockey and maybe play in Europe. Six years later they have three championship rings and have traveled all over Europe while playing in England and France. Job well done!
One of the best things about retirement for Brian is for the first time since he was in high school he was home (Roseau) this fall during hunting season, which is a passion. He has been able to hunt everything from elk to bear to deer this fall as well as turkey, ducks, geese and grouse.
So I join with all Allen fans as well as fans from everywhere Brian has played to wish the McMillins well as they move on to their next adventure in life. There is no doubt they will be successful.
DID YOU KNOW: If the Allen Americans ever presented a Lady Byng trophy which is presented each year to the National Hockey League player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability it would certainly go to Brian McMillin. Brian never took a bad penalty and in his career with Allen scored more goals (68) than he had penalty minutes (49).