Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Andy Miele on the Frozen Four, the Hobey Baker, and His Future in the NHL

 photo by Cathy White/WCPO.com

It's been a while since I blogged about Andy Miele. With the awarding of the Hobey Baker coming up during the Frozen Four in just a few weeks, I set up an interview to chat with Miele, who is first in the nation in college hockey scoring (65 points) this season.

Saturday night, the Miami RedHawks completed their CCHA two-game quarterfinal sweep of University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and move on to the semifinals in Detroit, facing Notre Dame on Friday. In Saturday's game, Miele had a goal and two assists to lift the RedHawks to a 4-1 final. 

The team has high hopes for this year's Frozen Four in the Twin Cities, after a disappointing 7-1 semifinal exit last year to eventual champions Boston College.

I spoke to Miele on Tuesday, three days after the last win over Alaska.

Rink Rebel: Congratulations on your season so far and on the quarterfinal wins over Alaska. What's the team's mentality heading into Friday's semifinal against Notre Dame?

Andy Miele: We know it's going to be a tough battle, it always is against Notre Dame. They're a good, skilled team that works hard, but they're young, and we're pretty experienced, so we're hoping that we can get the outcome that we want.

RR: Obviously last year's outcome at the Frozen Four was disappointing for you, but are you guys using that as motivation to make it even farther this year?

AM: Yeah, definitely. Everything that happens in the past you learn from, you move on from, and you get better from. Last year was obviously very disappointing, and so was the year before that, but it's something that we have in the back of our minds and will definitely motivate us come Frozen Four time.

RR: You've consistently improved each year with Miami, so looking at this season in particular, in what areas do you think you've improved the most?

AM: I'd say I'm more consistent, I'm bringing it every shift, instead of maybe one or two periods a game. I'm trying to go a full 60 minutes and staying focused, and that starts in practice. The consistency in practice is much better this year, and the time is showing in my statistics.

RR: How important was your time with the Capitals during the summer's development camp for your own development this past year?

AM: It was huge. Going there and doing pretty well definitely boosted my confidence. I had a great time there, I met a lot of guys. But the biggest thing was going there and succeeding, and that instilled so much confidence for me this year, on and off the ice.

RR: What does it mean for you to have your name floating around the top of the list for the Hobey Baker?

AM: You know, it's still hard to believe. I'd never really thought of myself as being a top contender for the Hobey Baker, so it hasn't really hit me how big of a deal it is. It's hard for me to still believe. I'm excited about it, and I look forward to what comes with it.

RR: Are you just looking to beat out [Carter] Camper (Ed. Note: Camper, Miami's Captain, is also a nominee) for it?

AM: No, no, my main goal this year is to win a national championship so that's my main focus, and if I can win a Hobey Baker, that would be awesome too.

RR: You've been getting a lot of attention with all the Hobey Baker talk, are you glad now that you weren't drafted? Because now after you graduate you're pretty much going to have your pick of teams.

AM: Absolutely. When you've had a successful season like I have, being a free agent is huge. You're not stuck in a place where you maybe don't want to be, I get to choose. Hopefully I'll have enough good options where I'll be happy with my decision.

RR: I've seen some New York Rangers blogs lobbying for [Glen] Sather to sign you. Do you think that the smaller, feisty players like [Mats] Zuccarello with the Rangers are helping your case to play in the NHL?

AM: Absolutely. Any little feisty guy that can succeed will open up scouts' eyes toward other players like that. It's just more recently that they've been looking at smaller players like myself. I think me and Carter [Camper] (Ed. Note: Camper is listed at 5'9", Miele at 5'8") are very excited about that, and hopefully our dream to play in the NHL someday will come true.

RR: After your experience with the Capitals organization this summer, all the fans want to know if you would sign with the Caps if they offered you a contract. 

AM: [laughs] I'll answer that question when it comes my way. It's a great organization there, it's a great city, great coaching staff, the guys seem great, so that'll be a question to answer when it comes my way.

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