GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Andy Miele knows what it’s like to play in the NHL. He’s bounced back and forth from the NHL to the AHL with the Phoenix Coyotes and their farm team, the Portland Pirates, during the past three seasons.
Miele, 26, was signed by the Detroit Red Wings in July to add some depth to their AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
And so far, Miele is making the most of his chance with the team in his home state.
The Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, native scored the lone goal in the Griffins’ 3-1 loss to the Chicago Wolves on Wednesday, and Miele has racked up six points (four goals, two assists) in five games with Grand Rapids.
“(Kevin Porter) made a nice play over to me,” Miele said of his power-play goal. “I think it started with (Xavier Ouellet) making a play to Kevin. He found me coming down the slot, and I just waited until a lane cleared out and threw one at the net and the goalie didn’t see it.”
Miele started the year at a disadvantage, as he missed Red Wings training camp and the first three games of the AHL season recovering from a sports hernia. However, Miele still used all of the resources available to him at training camp — watched all of the practices and sat in on all the meetings in order to prepare for the season.
The Griffins have been streaky to begin the 2014-15 campaign. After losing their first three games to the Lake Erie Monsters, they rattled off a win against the Monsters and two straight against the Charlotte Checkers. Currently, they find themselves on a four-game losing streak after falling to the Wolves for the second time. Grand Rapids has yet to win a home game this season.
“I don’t think we are playing a full 60-minute game,” Miele said. “We’ll have a good 20 and maybe little spurts here and there where we play well. We need to figure out how to put a full 60 minutes together, and we’re going to be pretty tough to beat if we can do that.”
Despite the strong start for Miele, he is the first to admit he can be more consistent during the course of a 60-minute game.
“I still need to work on playing a 60-minute game,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve played a full 60-minute game — I’ve been pretty inconsistent with that. That’s where I’m at right there.
“If I can figure out a way to play 60 minutes, I think we can be in a little bit better shape.”
In seven games with Phoenix last year, Miele had two assists and a plus-4 rating. With Portland, he had 27 goals, 45 assists and a minus-18 rating in 70 games.
Miele won the 2011 Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey after recording 24 goals and 47 assists in 39 games with the Miami RedHawks.
“Miele is a really good player,” Griffins coach Jeff Blashill said. “He’s got really good offensive ability. I thought the first couple of games here, he didn’t play from the D side of the puck as well as he’s going to have to. I thought he’s gotten way better at that. I think he’s way better in his own zone then he was even early.
“If he does that, he’s going to have the ability to score goals.”
Tom Mitsos is a writer from Michigan who covers the Red Wings and the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, for The Hockey Writers.