by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
A year ago, Miami drew national attention for two potential Hobey Baker candidates — its two stalwart goaltenders, Cody Reichard and Connor Knapp.
Now, a year later, the attention is back on the RedHawks — this time, thanks to a star at the opposite end of the ice: Andy Miele, the nation's leading scorer and current frontrunner for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, awarded annually to college hockey's best player.
With the regular season now winding down, Miele’s numbers are staggering. Averaging 1.75 points per game during the course of the season, the senior forward from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., is seemingly doing everything in his power to lead the RedHawks back to the NCAA tournament.
Riding an 11-game point streak during which he has amassed 7 goals and 16 assists, Miele isn't just hearing the Hobey whispers from the national media.
He's hearing it from his teammates as well.
"The guys are always reminding me of [the Hobey Baker Award], giving me a hard time," says a humble Miele, laughing. "They'll call me Andy Baker. Or Hobey Miele.
"But I try to keep that separate from everything else. I don't want that to be a distraction to a team. It's a huge privilege to have your name mentioned for the Hobey Baker. I came into this league wanting to win the league championship, the playoff championship, and the national championship. Those are still my main goals."
Miele has flourished on a team overflowing with offensive talent. His classmate Carter Camper is fourth in the nation in scoring with 47 points, while sophomore sensation Reilly Smith leads the CCHA in goal-scoring with 21.
At times this season, Miele has been joined by Camper and Smith to comprise the RedHawks' top line — a verifiable nightmare for opposing squads.
"We communicate really well," said Miele. "And we've been connecting great at the perfect times."
At his current pace, Miele is challenging the all-time Miami single-season scoring record. With 56 points currently, he trails Craig Fisher, who scored 66 in the 1989-90 season. Moreover, Miele will finish his career as a RedHawk in the top 10 all-time at Miami in scoring, as he approaches the 150-point plateau for his career.
Nevertheless, as you might expect for a Hobey candidate, it's not just about the numbers.
On a rare 'bye' weekend for Miami with two games to play in the regular season, Miele spent an afternoon with underprivileged children who live in foster homes — part of a community service program organized by Miele and his teammates.
He spent the day playing basketball with them.
"It is absolutely rewarding," said Miele. "It’s great for us to see how much fun they have."
Back on the ice, Miele has provided the leadership and wisdom one would expect for a senior. In his career, the veteran forward has played in two Frozen Fours and one national championship game.
But in early February, the RedHawks found themselves in a mini-slump, losing three of its first five games of the month, including a sweep at the hands of Ohio State and an uncharacteristic 7-4 loss to Michigan State.
After losing to the Spartans, Miele, an assistant captain, says that he and his classmates spoke candidly to the rest of the team — their "brotherhood."
Said Miele, "We told them that we can't take anything for granted. We realize that this is our senior year. This is our last chance to do something good for this program. We really came together as team, especially after that loss to Michigan State."
The RedHawks are unbeaten in seven games since, with Miele as their go-to guy.
"I knew I'd be one of the go-to guys as a little forward," says the 5-foot-8 Miele. "But I never thought I'd have this much success as a senior where I'd be putting up this many points. To be this successful, it's been a dream for me."
It's a dream, certainly, that RedHawks fans and teammates hope continues for at least the near future.
And if it does, "Hobey Miele" may be as accurate a nickname as they come.