Miami Senior Defenseman Is Making Hobey Noise
by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Growing up 30 minutes from Ann Arbor and 30 minutes from Joe Louis Arena, Andy Greene spent a lot of time watching the Michigan Wolverines. And like any other kid from Trenton, Michigan, who foresaw a future in hockey, he wanted to play for them too.
But five years ago, Greene was getting only cursory interest from Michigan. Instead, a school a few hours away in Oxford, Ohio, pursued him more vigorously. It was not long before Greene was hooked on Miami.
"It would've been nice to play there, but this is the best place for me," said Greene. "When you walk into something, you have a good feeling about it. And coming (I had) a chance to play every game (right away). And the campus is a perfect."
So beating Michigan this past weekend in a sweep — making them the CHN Team of the Week — was certainly sweet.
"It was kind of a nice. Us as a team have struggled against them. To finally get a sweep of them ... it was a big weekend."
Greene contributed heavily, as he usually does. In particular, he scored the game-winning goal Saturday, making a nifty play to intercept a clearing pass just inside the Michigan blue line.
"I saw guy coming around, and I was kind of coming up and keeping an eye on the guy going high. The defenseman looked up and I kind of just read the play, intercepted the pass — Ryan jones was in deep forechecking. He made a real good screen of the goalie."
Greene's future is certainly bright. Right now, he's just trying to help his team win games and see where that goes. But there's no use ducking the obvious questions, such as, can Greene win the Hobey?
"I've watched a lot of hockey games in the last couple years, and if there's a better defenseman in college hockey, it's maybe (Denver's) Matt Carle and that's about it," said Blasi. "Andy does so many things for our team and does them so well. It's not only that, but he leads his team off the ice too. He's not someone who worries about individual accomplishments. He will go out and block a shot off his head if he has to.
"Then, that game-winning goal against Michigan, that's something maybe Chris Pronger could do."
Blasi allows his defensemen that kind of freedom, and it's paying off. Three of the top seven scorers on the team are doing it from the backline. And this season, despite having two relatively unproven goaltenders, Greene has not been constrained. If anything, his offense is flourishing more than ever.
"We're in total confidence in them back there," said Greene of sophomore Charlie Effinger and freshman Jeff Zatkoff, who were pressed into service when sophomore Brandon Crawford-West decided to skip his last two years of eligibility. "It's not like we're playing a tight defensive system. We're playing our normal up-tempo style."
With Greene an undrafted free agent, the NHL scouts are pervasive at every game. Of course Greene grew up a Red Wings fan, but that's not a thought he can allow enter his mind.
"That will be handled at the end of the year," Greene said. "I just have to play my game to help our team win."
Even the thoughts of winning a CCHA championship, which seems so within reach right now, is not something to dwell on, not even with a No. 2 ranking and an eight-point lead in the conference.
"We can't worry about that. Championships are not won in Decemeber. It's nice to be recognized."