The Mahoning Valley Phantoms announced this week that veteran forward Miles Winter has verbalized his commitment to play NCAA Division I college hockey next season at Quinnipiac University.
“It feels great, and it is a lot of pressure off me,” Winter said. “It’s been something I’ve been striving for, for practically my entire life. Now that it has happened, it’s a ton of weight off my shoulders and I can just worry about winning the (Robertson Cup) championship.”
Winter hails from Horsham, Pa., just north of Philadelphia. Quinnipiac University is located in Hamden, Ct., about 30 miles south of Hartford, and close to home for Winter.
“Obviously, it’s a top-notch school,” Winter says on the reasons for his decision. “The campus is amazing, it’s just beautiful, and it’s only a three-hour drive from home. It gives my parents an opportunity to come and see every home game, and when I do go home, it’s not too long of a drive. It’s definitely do-able.”
Winter just visited the Quinnipiac campus a few weeks ago and hopes to major in marketing. Phantoms coach-GM Bob Mainhardt says that Winter made a good choice.
“They have an unbelievable organization, and are really growing into one of the most respected programs in the country,” said Mainhardt. “Whether it be athletically or academically, they have great resources, and Miles will be able to come out of there ready for his professional life. I just think it is going to be a great fit for everybody.”
Winter joins Derek Graham (Ferris State), Kurt Washnock (Mercyhurst), Alden Hirschfeld (Miami), Trent Bonnett (Bentley), Scott Moser (Canisius) and Eric Ringel (Notre Dame) as the seventh current Phantoms player to make his collegiate choice for the 2008-09 hockey season.
“We’re accomplishing what we set out to do,” Mainhardt said about moving so many players on to the NCAA ranks. “We know that we can always improve though. Until we have a year where we have every single player committed, then we still have something to shoot at.”
The Quinnipiac Bobcats are off to an 10-5-2 start to the 2007-2008 season – good for a tie for fourth place in the Eastern College Athletic Conference.
“They are a school looking for a big power forward, and I’m a big guy and fit that role,” Winter said on how he’ll fit into the Bobcats’ system. “I am trying to come in and play the role that they have for me and be a big, hard hitting, grinding, shoot-the-puck kind of guy.”
In just two seasons with the Phantoms, Winter, who turns 20 on Friday, has scored 42 goals and collected 59 assists – good for 101 points in 98 career regular-season and playoff games. As a rookie last season, Winter ranked fifth on the team in scoring. This year, Winter has moved up to third among Phantoms scorers.
“Miles has a big body that he can throw around, and he’s got a really good skill game as well,” said Phantoms assistant coach Curtis Carr. “He’s got great hands, good feet, an NHL-caliber shot, and he can work the finesse game in around the net, which a lot of big guys cannot do.”
When Winter steps onto the ice next season for the Bobcats, he will join a group of 45 other former Phantoms to have made the transition to the college level.
“When Mr. (Bruce) Zoldan started this organization, it was about trying to give kids an opportunity, and to move kids along,” Carr said about the Phantoms’ history of getting players on to top NCAA programs. “He has obviously provided us with the resources we need to continue to build players to move onto the next level, and I think the scouts know that they are getting top quality kids from our program.”