Q&A with Hobey Hopeful Andy Miele
|Photo Credit: Associated Press|
Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalist and arguably the best player in college hockey right now, Miami University senior Andy Miele was overlooked in last year's NHL Entry Draft. After posting 71 points in 39 games for the RedHawks this season, Miele's hard work finally paid off when he signed with the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday afternoon. Adam Pardes of The Checking Line recently caught up with Miele to gain some insight into the young player's budding career.
Once you were eligible for college hockey in 2008, you decided to leave the USHL and attend Miami University… what made you choose college hockey and what has it meant to you?
AM: Well, I grew up right outside of Detroit so I was a big follower of college hockey and the CCHA. My parents were always high on education, and when I went to Miami to visit the school and look at the place, the coach, and the staff…there was really no looking back from there.
Would you encourage young players to choose the same path as you?
AM: Yeah, absolutely. With how much college hockey has grown and how many players are making it to the NHL level and have succeeded at the NHL level, it’s unbelievable. And hopefully you can walk away with an education which is very important – you never know what can happen with your hockey career, so I’d definitely encourage young player to take that route. And if it’s not for you, you can move after one or two years.
Although you were eligible last year, you were skipped over in the draft… did that help motivate you to take your game to the next level and have a great season at Miami?
AM: Absolutely, this was a very important year for me. I went to Washington’s development camp and I definitely gained some confidence from that I carried over into the season, and some knowledge of what I had to do to succeed at the next level. I think I did that this year and they set up an awesome opportunity for me.
Your nation-best 71 points this season were the most in collegiate play since 2002-2003 and the most for a Miami University player since the late 70’s… what do you attribute this year’s success to the most?
AM: I have to say the team. We really came together and worked together as a whole unit and not individually. My line was great this year; the guys who I played with were great. The coaching staff gave me the opportunity to succeed off and on [the ice] and working on me with a couple things in my game that really helped me succeed this year.
Your incredible season on the ice isn’t the only thing that’s made you a Hobey Baker Award finalist… could you tell us a little bit about the community work you do?
AM: I’ve done a little bit of community work here and there. Worked with an agency that works with underprivileged children that were sexually harassed by a family member growing up, that live in a foster home now. We went there and hung out with the kids for a day, we went to some basketball games with them, so we hung out with these kids a little bit and got to know them. They’re some great kids and we had a lot of fun with them.
That’s great. On a similar note, and I’m sure you’ve been asked this a lot, but what would winning the Hobey Baker Award mean to you?
AM: You know, it’s still something that’s not real to me yet. It’d be an unbelievable feeling and I wish that the team could be there with me and celebrate, but unfortunately we got knocked out of the tournament, but it’d be a great feeling, it’d be good for Miami hockey, and it’d be very exciting to win something like that.
As a smaller player, do you look up to guys like Martin St. Louis and Daniel Briere and what they’ve been able to accomplish at the NHL level?
AM: Absolutely. They took a pathway for guys like us to be able to succeed in the NHL, so that’s definitely something I look forward to doing. Hopefully I can have the career that they have.
Are there any other particular players that you try to model your game after?
AM: I don’t really, I try to be my own kind of player and do my own thing. That’s worked for me so far, so I’m not really gonna go change anything.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
AM: Favorite player growing up… I’d have to say Steve Yzerman. I grew up right outside of Detroit, and his great leadership skills and great play on the ice is something I’ll always remember.
Who’s been your biggest influence and supporter throughout your career so far?
AM: My biggest supporters would definitely be my parents. Without them, I wouldn’t be in the situation I am today with all the sacrifices they’ve made. Scott Norton told me to say him too, so I’d have to say Scott Norton too [laughs]. I’d also have to say me, you know. I’ve been through a lot with hockey, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, and I’m still working on it, it means a lot to me so I’d definitely have to say myself, as well.
Definitely, that’s a good answer. Looking on YouTube, you had quite a few scraps in your USHL days… is that something we can expect to see again at the NHL or AHL level?
AM: [Laughs] You know what, you probably will see a couple at the next level. I don’t really like to be pushed around on the ice, it’s probably my personality. I think I get that from my mom… there definitely will be some scraps in the near future.
In general, fans usually hear about guys who go #1, #2 in drafts with great OHL careers or great careers in the Q, and less about guys who are skipped over and get picked up by a team, undrafted and out of college. Could you tell us what it’s like to try and crack the NHL and the path that you’ve had?
AM: It’s definitely harder because if you’re a free agent, you’re not always gonna get that first opportunity from some teams, and to have a lot of pressure to play in the first or second round [of the playoffs], but that’s something I’m not too worried about. I’m pretty confident in myself that I can go in there, work hard, and take that position to be mine.
Last question, we’re all very anxious to hear what NHL team you’ll be signing with for next season… I’m sure Scott will kill me for asking this, but can you tell us who any of the frontrunners are?
AM: [Laughs] I’m sorry, I can’t answer that right now.
Here's an incredible video of Miele's college hockey highlights:
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