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Fidler's State of Hockey

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Same result, just a different year and maybe just a tad different in atmosphere than 40 years prior. Malden Catholic again won the Massachusetts Super 8 State High School Hockey title in 2014, as did the Lancers in 1974. Yet the championship game was held in front of a packed house at the old Boston Garden back then opposed to the newer and less-crowded TD Garden. That certainly was not the only dissimilarity. Malden Catholic won in easy fashion 8-0 and in fact the environment was so hostile from fans pelting players with beer bottles the game was called off early with 1:28 remaining in the third period.

One star in the game was a kid from Charlestown, MA named Mike Fidler. He and his brothers Joe and Mark are well known in the Beantown area still to this day for initiating in the '60s and '70s many battles on the streets and rinks on the peninsula north of the Charles River across from downtown Boston.

Today there is another Fidler throwing his weight around the ice and making his own name along the way. Miguel Fidler also has a few state titles under his belt – just like his old man, Mike. The distinction in the younger Fidler is he captured his crowns while skating in the State of Hockey – Minnesota.

The 1996-born forward helped lead the Edina Hornets to back-to-back state trophies over the past two seasons.

After Mike completed his pro hockey career including a few seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, he settled in the west instead of going back home east. Miguel has played in Edina from the youth program all the way up through his senior year this season.

In his senior season he has not only capped his high school career as a winner, but he has stirred up plenty attention for NCAA schools including UConn, Notre Dame, Maine, and Ohio State. The versatile and physically punishing forward led his team in scoring in 32 games played with 20 goals and 31 assists for a total of 51 points. Not to mention, he is one of the biggest risers on the NHL’s Central Scouting Services final rankings moving up to #133 spot after being graded at the 180th at the mid-term classification.

In fact he was really not even a blip on the radar last season after producing a modest nine goals and seven assists during his junior campaign in 29 games played.

Many scouts and coaches were unaware of Miguel’s talents and any relation back to Boston to the Fidler family. His mother Lolita is of Ecuadorian decent. His first name is not a common one for the streets of Charlestown to say the least. Plus the fact that Miguel resides in the ‘Land of 10,000 Lakes’, many of Mike’s old playing contacts now in the coaching and scouting realm did not even make the connection to their old friend.

It is refreshing to see the former 1976 3rd round NHL Draft pick of the California Golden Seals allowing nature to take its course and accepting his son Miguel to illustrate his own identity.

Edina’s Head Coach, Curt Giles, also an ex-NHLer himself for almost 900 games. So knowing the talent in front of him is probably something that comes fairly easily.

“Miguel can play any type of game. He’s a physically strong kid, he finishes extremely well, and he moves very well. So he is a combination of a lot of good things. He can play the speed game, he can play the power game, and plays extremely well defensively”, stated Giles. “But what I like most about his game is his mental approach. He is very determined, extremely smart, he has that attitude that he just doesn’t quit.”

In speaking with Edina’s bench boss, you could hear how Miguel is one of those players any team cherishes to have both on and off the ice.

Giles continued to describe Fidler. “He is one of the leaders and he will not be denied anything. Understands the team concept, he’s a team kid. He is very humble and an extremely hard worker. I cannot say enough good things about the kid to tell you the truth.”

Interesting enough too Giles made a comment I am sure only a few unique players would receive from the former NHL captain. He remarked, “You know I mentioned this to someone back in November, that if we had two more Miguel Fidlers on this team, there would be no question we would win a state title. That was six months even before we played for it.” Certainly a statement that speaks volumes about Fidler.

His immediate plans are to enhance his game in the USHL next season with the Lincoln Stars. He was a 15th round selection in last year’s 2013 draft.

It will be the first time the young Edina native has taken his game away from home. While the opportunity presented itself last year for the junior ranks, Miguel really wanted to play his senior season with longtime friends and teammates.

“I really love Minnesota hockey. I’ve been to Boston a few times, but there’s nothing like Minnesota hockey. All the rivalries in the youth hockey associations and keeping them through the high school years and then into States. There is nothing like it in any other state,” uttered Fidler.

He seemed to still have a bit of glow in his voice from capturing the Minnesota Class 2A trophy back in early March. Fidler feels that winning the state crown is certainly one of his best achievements and is honored.

“There are so few kids that get to experience winning (MN State Championship), though I’ve been lucky enough to be associated with a well-rounded team to win it two times in a row. There really is nothing like it.”

Yet after gaining much attention in recent months it appears the young Fidler is quite respectful for the game and his accomplishments.

His coached agreed, “He is a quality kid on and off the ice who is extremely coachable and respectful.”

He also knows that playing in your draft year can create unneeded pressures to perform. He of course leaned on his father for advice throughout the years and especially this season in particular. As Miguel realizes his dad gets the game and has the inside knowledge on tracking to the NHL. After all, the older Fidler was the first player to leave Boston University early under the Jack Parker era, as the financial reward of the pros was just something too difficult to pass up.

“My coach this year, Curt Giles, has really honed me in this year on focusing on my type of game, not trying to play anybody else’s game”, added Miguel.

When asked on possibly hearing his name at the podium come June in Philadelphia for the NHL Entry Draft, the young Fidler calmly replied, “If a scout likes me and wants me, then he’ll draft me. I cannot do much to influence besides playing the way I play. I have talked with a few college coaches who in turn have spoken with NHL teams about me. I’m hoping for the best.”

But for now Fidler will prepare for the upcoming season with off-ice workouts and playing another sport he really enjoys – boxing. He is part of a boxing club up the street from his house and enjoys the workout and physical aspect of sparring. Perhaps his aggressive styled game of taking the puck hard to the net and battling hard along the walls has some attribution to his boxing training.

Miguel was 3-sport athlete up until the high school years while playing soccer and baseball as a kid growing up along with hockey. However he determined to specialize to the game on ice just in recent years.

He is certainly starting to peak at the right time in his career but his head coach Giles feels Fidler is really only starting to scratch the surface in his potential.

“I think Miguel’s best hockey is ahead of him. He has done extremely well at this level, but he is one of those kids that have the ability to adapt and grow his game to the next level. He wants to play, he likes to play. He is a student of the game.”

Fidler without question is a rising 18-year old prospect on the hockey scene with many fine elements not only to his game, but also his character. While still being uncommitted to any NCAA program at this time and the NHL Draft still weeks away, the roads to be traveled for Fidler in his hockey future is still unknown yet exciting at the same time.

His coach summed up his outlook in life quite well when he said, “On top of everything, whether hockey works out for him or not, he is a wonderful kid and he will do well no matter what he does.”

You can follow Russ Bitely for more hockey news, articles, and comments on Twitter: @russbites

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