ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Miami University of (Oxford) Ohio senior forward Andy Miele, a native of Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, received college hockey's highest individual award Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center, being selected as the 31st recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, recognizing the game's best player.
Miele, who recently signed a free-agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, received the honor on the eve of the national championship game between Michigan and Minnesota-Duluth, before a live audience on ESPNU.
Named in honor of the former Princeton star and World War I fighter pilot killed in a training flight, Miele follows former Wisconsin star and current Nashville Predator Blake Geoffrion, who won the 2010 award.
The two other 2011 Hobey Hat Trick finalists were forwards Cam Atkinson of Boston College and North Dakota's Matt Frattin.
Miele becomes Miami's first Hobey winner, and the first from the Central Collegiate Hockey Association since Michigan's Kevin Porter in 2008.
"It shows how well they develop players," Miele told NHL.com about the strength of Miami's program. "Hopefully, young players will see this and know it's a place where they can go and develop."
Tops in the nation with 71 points in 39 games, and an 11-point cushion over second-place Frattin, Miele won the CCHA conference scoring title with 16 goals and 56 points in 28 games -- the most points by a player in 19 years in conference play. His 40 assists were more than the second-place scorer had points, a first in league history.
Miele received CCHA Player-of-the-Year honors and a First-Team league all-star berth. Miele's 24 goals and 71 points included 22 multiple-point games; his 47 assists are tops in the nation. The assistant captain for the RedHawks is an American Studies major with a coaching minor and active in the community. Miele assists Habitat for Humanity, volunteers with a Children's Home and visits retirement homes and local elementary schools.
Miele described how his four years, which included losing the 2009 national championship game to Boston University, has helped prepare him for a pro career.
"This team has been through a lot," he said. "A lot of times it's been a roller coaster. It has made me all that much stronger and it develops you into a [better person.] That's something you need to carry over onto the professional level."
Sue and Jim Miele were on hand for their son's prestigious award.
"He has great passion for whatever he does," his father said. "He's a great kid with a huge, huge heart."
"I always told Andy I'm his biggest fan," his mother said as she related the story of his very first goal being scored on his own team's net at the age of five.
The pride in Miele extended to Miami head coach Rico Blasi as well.
"The fact that he scores big goals is secondary to the type of person that he is," he said.
The RedHawks won the CCHA Tournament before being eliminated in the first round of the Northeast Regional by New Hampshire, 3-1.