Miele Earns the Spotlight
Becomes First Miami Player to Win Hobey Baker Award
by Joe Meloni/CHN Staff Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. Miami senior Andy Miele joked at the beginning of his Hobey Baker acceptance speech that he and the legendary namesake shared a few things in common.
Firstly, both are "painfully shy" as Miele put it. Secondly, both dreaded those moments when forced to stand before a throng of onlookers and admirers, waiting not so patiently for their words. In this instance, though, Miele probably didn't mind the few minutes he spent addressing the college hockey world.
Miele became the 31st Hobey Baker Award winner Friday evening at the Xcel Energy Center. Following the announcement, both Miele and Miami coach Enrico Blasi proudly discussed Miele's award as another first for the program. Three weeks ago, the RedHawks clinched their first CCHA Tournament title with a 5-2 win over Western Michigan.
Naturally, both hoped the biggest first this season would be a national championship. However, Miele's individual distinction demonstrates the true meaning of the Brotherhood, Blasi's philosophy, which guides the program.
"Ryan Jones a few years ago was in the Hobey Hat Trick," Blais said. "To have Andy here tonight is huge for our program and everybody that came before him and the players that will come after him."
Miele, the national leader in points with 71 points — 24 goals and 47 assists — became a national sensation and favorite for the Hobey because his teammates finished his plays with goals. Of course, his craftiness as the RedHawks first line center helped, but scoring well developed team goals means more to Miele, Blasi and the other Miami players than any highlight reel ever could.
"Andy is a special player and a special person," Blasi said. "His teammates are a special group of guys. When [Andy] says he wants to share it with his teammates, that's the truth. That's the way we've created our culture and our program."
Two weeks ago in Manchester, N.H., the RedHawks could have used a goal of any variety, as they fell to New Hampshire in the first game of the Northeast Regional. Despite the disappointment, the Hobey is a final addition to Miele's career in Oxford, which began earlier than he may have expected.
As a freshman, Miele enrolled at Miami midway through the season following an injury to Nate Davis. Initially some issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse kept Miele from enrolling when he planned. When Davis went down, though, Blasi and the staff met with Miele to discuss the possibility of him enrolling midway through the season to begin his collegiate career. Despite the loss of a half season, Miele, staying true to the Brotherhood, opted to begin his collegiate career.
In those first 18 games with Miami, he scored six goals and assisted on eight more. The first one stands out to Blasi, as it didn't take Miele a particularly long time to do it — coming on his first shift.
At least he didn't put it in his own net, something his mom recalled occured early in his youth hockey career. It's a long way from being a kid, when he fought with his parents over putting on his hockey gear.
Since the RedHawks' season ended, Miele has moved onto to the National Hockey League, signing a free agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Just another distinction for a Miami player. Blasi knows it won't be the last, but the one he's more concerned with, the national championship, will have to wait until next year at least.
"We're in a unique position at Miami, building our program," Blasi said. "You're going to go through a lot of firsts.
"When one of our brothers gets an award, we all get one," he continued. "Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win a national championship. The good news for me as coach is that we keep knocking down firsts, maybe the next one will be the big one."
Miele won't be around, then. But his four years in Oxford, and that Hobey Baker award, will likely have a lot to do with it.