Cheswick native Miles Liberati contributing for OHL's London Knights
In his first season in the Ontario Hockey League, Cheswick native Miles Liberati has made quite a name for himself.
Liberati, 17, overcame some early-season struggles to earn a starting role with the London Knights.
“It started off a little rough; I wasn't playing much,” said Liberati, a defenseman drafted by London in the third round of the 2011 OHL draft who joined the team this year after attending The Hill Academy, a Canadian prep school. “I had to keep a positive attitude. Then, one of our other defensemen got suspended for a fight he was in, and I got the call to play.
“That's when I kind of found my game.”
Liberati, who is 6-foot, 195 pounds, had nine points and was a plus-5 in 42 regular-season games for London, which is the top seed in the OHL playoffs.
They took their opening series, 4-0, over the Saginaw Spirit and will play the Kitchener Rangers in the conference semifinals beginning Friday.
Liberati is focused on winning the OHL championship but could be on his way to bigger things.
He is eligible for the NHL Draft this year. A smooth-skating, puck-moving defender, Liberati is ranked the 88th-best non-goalie prospect in North America by NHL Central Scouting.
The service ranks players from around the world based on how likely they are to excel at hockey's highest level.
“It was cool,” Liberati said of his ranking. “I heard they came out, and I was looking for my friends (to see where they were ranked), and then I saw that they had ranked me too.
“If I'm lucky enough to get drafted I'll probably stay in the OHL, and they'll monitor my progress and see if I'm ready for the AHL and then hopefully the NHL.”
Liberati said playing in the OHL has given him a feel for what a career in pro hockey feels like.
“You learn what it takes to make it and be in the lineup,” he said. “Every night, there are four or five guys scratched. It's a battle.”
Liberati said he models his game after two great defenseman: former Detroit Red Wing Nick Lidstrom and current Los Angeles King Drew Doughty.
“Drew Doughty skated with us during the (NHL) lockout,” Liberati said. “He lives in London and skated with us to stay in shape. I didn't even realize it was him at first, until someone said, ‘that's Drew Doughty.'
“I learned a lot from him.”
Liberati attended Central Catholic for two years before moving to Canada to chase his dream of playing in the NHL. He honed his game for local organizations like the Junior Penguins and the Viper Stars.
Liberati admits to being a little homesick when he first moved to Ontario.
“This year, I only got to come home twice,” he said. “But my dad (Dan) comes up three or four times a month with my brothers (Mario and Roman). My mom (Carin) doesn't make it up as much because she has to teach.”
Liberati said he's still a Penguins fan and follows the team as much as possible.
“I'm pretty excited about the (Jarome) Iginla trade,” he said.
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer.
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.