Precious Moments

By Elliot Olshansky - January 22, 2008

When Miami head coach Rico Blasi was a guest on "Tuesday @ the Rink" a couple of weeks ago, a question came in about the recently-enrolled Andy Miele. Miele, a highly-regarded recruit out of the USHL, was not expected by many to play for the RedHawks, using a full year of eligibility for a portion of the season, but Rico said that he'd be eligible to play just like anyone on the team.

Clearly, he meant it, since Miele made his RedHawks debut against Lake Superior this past Friday, and scored the game-winning goal for the RedHawks.

Smart move.

Not just because of the goal, either (Miami had plenty more that night).

Miami has a truly great opportunity. I, for one, believe that the RedHawks are the best team in college in hockey, and they certainly have to be regarded as a team with a serious chance to win it all in Denver come April. But the competition is going to be stiff. A lot of people think Michigan is better, and they may be right. Denver and Colorado College are certainly strong, and will have the advantage of playing at home. New Hampshire is wonderfully balanced. Boston College is heating up. Heck, we may even be getting back to the point where we start asking about that hypothetical Miami-North Dakota matchup, too. Why not take advantage of another weapon in your arsenal?

There's more to it, though. Miami's great opportunity has, in part, been born of the fact that two players with the opportunity to turn pro - Nathan Davis and Ryan Jones - elected to return to Oxford and try to lead this team to a national championship. That's remarkable because it doesn't happen every day in college hockey anymore, not with players as talented and well-developed as Davis and Jones. And yes, I know that Davis is hurt right now, but I suspect he'll have his say before it's all over.

With players like Davis, Jones, Jeff Zatkoff, Mitch Ganzak, and Alec Martinez, Miami clearly has the core of a championship team. Who knows when they'll have another shot? Davis, Jones and Ganzak graduate this year. Who knows how much longer Zatkoff and Martinez will hang around Miami (although I will say that Oxford is better equipped to compete for young men with Los Angeles than a lot of other places...)? For that matter, who knows how long Miele will be around?

For all we know, this half-season may be the best chance Miele will have to win a championship at Miami. Can you blame him for taking it?

We learned this week that Eric Ehn's season at Air Force - not to mention his collegiate career - is over. I remember some of the conversations I had with folks in the know last spring about Ehn's Hobey Baker candidacy, and one thing I remember discussing was that Ehn's season last year was the best chance Atlantic Hockey would have to produce a Hobey Baker winner for a long time. I believed that, too, and I believed that last April was Ehn's moment. Alas, the moment never came (again, no disrespect to Ryan Duncan), and now that Ehn's Falcon career is over, we know that the moment will not come.

Of course, Ehn did lead Air Force to the Atlantic Hockey title and the team's first-ever NCAA tournament berth, and I'm sure he'd tell you that that was more important, as it is to all hockey players worth their salt.

Andy Miele is helping to give Miami its best chance to win an NCAA title. Isn't that more important than the half season that he's giving up?

Posted by Elliot Olshansky at 04:30 PM on January 22, 2008

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