A month later, Andy Miele is still digesting a whirlwind span of about six weeks in April and May.
Miele, who is from Grosse Pointe Woods and played for Detroit area AAA organizations Little Caesars and Compuware and at School, , as College Hockey's top player to top off his career at Miami (Ohio) and represented the United States in the World Championships all in that time period.
“Everything was a blur, things were happening so fast,” said Miele, a center, who was NCAA Division I's top scorer last season with 71 points. He also led the nation with 47 assists.
“It was just unbelievable,” added Miele, who also turned 23 in April.
The 5-9, 180-pounder is just beginning his workouts after taking three weeks off and is back in Oxford, Ohio, taking a class at Miami.
Getting bigger, stronger and faster is the mantra for every NHL prospect, but especially so for Miele because of his diminutive size.
“Because of my size, it's even more important that I get stronger,” he said. “And if I get stronger in my legs, that will make me faster.”
He didn't have the opportunity to play in any games with the Coyotes after signing as a free agent on April 2, just before the end of the regular season, only participating in practices. But Miele said the experience was “awesome” and that all of the Phoenix players welcomed him with open arms and made him feel at home.
The Coyotes organization has high hopes for him.
“He is a highly skilled and competitive player who had a great season at Miami University. He was one of the most sought after NCAA free agents in the nation,” said Phoenix Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Maloney in a statement announcing Miele's signing. “ … We look forward to watching him develop and being a part of our organization for years to come.”
According to Miele, the Coyotes told him he had a shot at making the team out of training camp next season. But it would be up to him and how he performs that will determine whether he starts the season in Phoenix or with the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the San Antonio Rampage.
Miele added that the Coyotes will likely keep him at center and not attempt to convert him into a winger.
Six days after signing his NHL contract, Miele won the Hobey Baker Award.
But that came after the RedHawks, who were favored by most to win the NCAA championship, were upset in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament, being eliminated in a 3-1 loss to New Hampshire.
“We were playing the best hockey we had played in the four years I was there,” Miele said. “A disappointing way for my career to end. But I had to move on and begin the next part of my career.”
He did just that, being named to Team USA for the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships in Slovakia only a week later.
“It was awesome,” he said of playing with and against some of the world's top professional players. “I played in two of six games. I learned so much just being around some of those guys.”
His education as a pro hockey player will continue when Phoenix's training camp opens in September.