DETROIT — Andy Miele had been quiet by Andy Miele standards for much of Saturday night’s CCHA championship game.
But with the Miami hockey team’s Mason Cup aspirations anything but decided, the league’s Most Valuable Player helped deliver the championship that had previously eluded the RedHawks.
Miele redirected Cameron Schilling’s shot at the 8:13 mark of the third period, spelling the difference in Miami’s 5-2 title-clinching victory over Western Michigan at Joe Louis Arena.
Miami (23-9-6) will learn where it will be headed for next weekend’s NCAA regional when the pairings are announced at 11:30 a.m. today.
For a team that has battled so much adversity and a program that was winless in three previous championship game appearances, Saturday night’s title is special.
“There’s been a lot of great hockey teams before us and a lot of great players and a lot of great coaches,” senior Carter Camper said. “But for us, we’ve been working hard since the summer time, and for us seniors, we’ve been working hard since before we got to Miami. So it’s an amazing payoff.”
Miele made sure Miami got the result it was looking for, suddenly turning the momentum for good after two WMU goals wiped out an early 2-0 deficit.
And as he has been so many times before for the No. 6-ranked RedHawks, Miele was the difference. “You realize as a veteran player that you have to step up in certain situations — and that was one of them,” Miele said. “I wasn’t the only guy that did it. I just happened to be the guy that tipped the puck in.”
Curtis McKenzie punctuated the win with a wrap-around power play goal with just under 10 minutes to play before Reilly Smith capped the scoring with 3:26 left.
Miele was the unanimous choice as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after registering six points — including four in Miami’s semifinal victory over Notre Dame on Friday night.
As soon as the final horn sounded, Miami players poured onto the ice, throwing their gloves and sticks into the air. Camper hoisted the Cup over his head before players affixed Miami’s named to the championship banner.
“I’m just so proud of them making history today,” Blasi said. “We’ve been waiting a long time for this. Clearly this has been a program that’s been built on everyone being involved, and I just couldn’t be any happier.”