Editor’s Note: Throughout the 2014-15 NHL season, USA Hockey Magazine will periodically highlight American-born players. In our most recent discussion we talk with Grand Rapids Griffins forward Andy Miele.
Photo credit Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins
After signing a one-year, two-way contract with his hometown Detroit Red Wings in the offseason, Andy Miele was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. A three-year player in the United States Hockey League (2005-2008), Miele tallied 60 goals and 65 assists in 139 games between the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and the Chicago Steel before heading to Miami (Ohio) University. Miele won the Hobey Baker Award in his senior year before signing with the Phoenix Coyotes.
When did you first start playing organized hockey in Michigan? Why did you lean toward hockey versus other sports?
I started playing organized sports in Michigan when I was 7 years old. My dad got me into hockey, and I’m not really sure why I leaned towards that more than the other sports, but I did. I guess hockey chose me.
Besides hockey, what sports during the offseason did you participate in when you were in grade school/middle school?
I’ve played pretty much all sports besides football growing up. Surprisingly, I really took to basketball even though I’m 5-foot-8. A sport I wish I played more of was lacrosse. When I started playing, our coaches ran us more than developed us, so I decided it wasn’t worth my time.
When did you finally realize you wanted to commit to hockey full time?
I was committed to hockey full time my whole life. I played other sports just for the enjoyment of playing another sport. I knew hockey would always be my career and love.
Why did you choose to attend Miami (Ohio) University? Can you describe ‘The Brotherhood’ mantra that the hockey team lives by?
Miami just grabbed my attention the most. Between the coaching staff, facilities, education and what they were building there, was just everything I could ask for. The Brotherhood is hard to describe in a couple words, but the best way to put it is the team is a family and every decision you make at the rink and away from the rink is for the team. It builds relationships and bonds we will share forever.
Why did you pursue the college route versus the major junior route and possibly the Ontario Hockey League?
I actually almost took the major junior route, but the Miami coaching staff convinced me to stick with the college route, and it was the best decision of my life.
How would you describe your style of play at this point in your career?
It’s hard to say what type of player I am. I feel I have a couple different aspects to my game. My coaching staff in Portland would always talk about my ‘A’ and ‘B’ game. My ‘A’ game, which is producing offense, scoring goals or making plays. My ‘B’ game is more of a physical game, mucking it up in the corners and very direct.
Growing up, was there any one or two players you tried to model your game after?
I never tried to mirror any NHL players game but I grew up watching the Detroit Red Wings and loved Sergei Fedorov and Steve Yzerman.
How much have small area games been incorporated into your practices at both the collegiate and professional level? What types of skills have you taken away from those situations?
A ton, more in college than pro, but it’s such an important part of the game; it teaches you to compete and the more you win those battles, the more success you have.
You’re a member of the Advisory Board for ‘You Can Play’, a campaign dedicated to eliminating homophobia in sports. Why did you want to become an advocate for ‘You Can Play’?
Brendan Burke was just such a great kid, and anything I could do to help his legacy, I wanted to do.