OXFORD, Ohio – On stats alone, Gordie Green is among the best players ever to dress for Miami.
The team captain has climbed into the top 40 on the team’s all-time points leaderboard. He finished this season third in the conference in points with 36 and was named to the all-NCHC’s second team. Green twice led a RedHawks team in points and notched six career game-winning goals on a team that won just 40 times in his four seasons here.
But those quantitatives alone don’t show Green’s true value to Miami. His ability to thrive in any role separates him from many other high-scoring skaters.
“He’s kind of like our Swiss army knife – he’s a jack of all trades, he can be used in all situations,” senior left wing and linemate Karch Bachman said. “He’s a great power play guy, he can kill penalties, obviously 5-on-5 he’s dangerous, even if you have a 4-on-4 situation he’s the first guy you put on the ice. His offensive ability obviously speaks for itself, but even defensively he’s solid, he makes the right decisions. He doesn’t cheat the game, he plays the game the right way. There’s a reason he’s the best player on our team.”
That versatility, as well as his leadership, made Green a slam-dunk to be named Miami’s captain prior to this season by first-year coach Chris Bergeron.
“His game: To me, he’s a kid who’s an all-league type of player, had that type of year this year – I’m not giving an opinion, I think that’s what his year says, he’s an all-league guy in a really good league on a team that didn’t have a great year from a wins and losses perspective,” Bergeron said. “And the versatility, he’s a guy you want on the ice more, and it’s hard to put him out there more because he plays as much as he does.”
Green, who grew up in Ann Arbor, Mich., also playing basketball, baseball, tennis and golf, began skating at age three and playing hockey shortly after.
His mother, Annie, a figure skater for Miami, was his first hockey coach, and his uncle on his mother’s side – John DeTar – played hockey for Miami in the early 1980s.
By the time Green reached Bantam, he was a scoring machine for Compuware. Aligned for three seasons with linemates Brody Stevens and Colin Theisen – currently standouts for Michigan State and Notre Dame, respectively – Green played 80 games, scored 61 goals and dished for 57 assists, totaling 118 points in three seasons.
“Starting at a young age, I was fortunate enough to play on a really good team, had really good linemates,” Green said. “We kind of just built a chemistry since we were young, and we were able to get to know each other’s strengths and feed off each other.”
Prior to 2013-14, his junior year of high school, Green was invited to try out for the USNDT but did not make the team.
Green had been drafted by Dubuque in the USHL, and he went to Russia with the team at the beginning of that season. But as a 16-year-old, it was decided his best course would be remaining local and skating for Victory Honda in Midget Major, where he would log more ice time, rather than remain with a loaded Dubuque team that would potentially scratch him or play him minimally.
Because he was from the area, Green did dress for two games with the Ann Arbor-based USNDT due to others’ injuries, and he was called up to Dubuque for four games when members of that team played in tournaments.
Meanwhile, he scored 16 goals and tacked on 18 assists in 36 games for Victory Honda of the T1EHL.
The following season, 2014-15, Green stuck with Dubuque and went 9-12-21 as a high school senior, going plus-7. He followed that up with a 12-goal, 27-assist, plus-15 campaign in his second and final year of juniors, and he led that team with eight playoff assists as the Fighting Saints advanced to the Clark Cup final.
“It was a great experience, both years,” Green said. “The first year was really eye-opening and a big learning year for me. It was probably the first year where I wasn’t on the top two lines or the power play, so I kind of had to find a different element to my game. I had to try to generate more chances, 5-on-5, and try to earn my ice time a little more.”
Green’s family was obviously familiar with Miami, and he came to Oxford in eighth grade when his older brother, Charlie, was being recruited by Miami’s golf program. Green emailed then-coach Enrico Blasi about seeing the hockey facilities.
“He was nice enough, not knowing who we were, who I was at the time to give us a rink tour and I just kind of fell in love with the rink, fell in love with the school,” Green said.
Green’s parents had told him to be patient about committing to a college, but a week after getting an offer from Miami, he called the university without telling them.
It was a slow start for Green his freshman season, as he scored just once and picked up only three assists in his first 17 games.
“I think it was definitely an adaptation phase, just kind of similar to what I went through at Dubuque, adjusting to the speed of the game, the play, the conference, the every-night competition,” Green said.
But on New Year’s Eve, 2016, he recorded a goal and an assist in a 6-3 win at Ohio State and ended up with 17 points the final 19 games of the season for an 8-13-21 line his rookie year.
“I was kind of fortunate I had a pretty good game our first game back, we played Ohio State, and that just helped me build that confidence and then I kind of kept going from there,” Green said.
Green credits his linemates for the majority of that second half – Kiefer Sherwood and Zach LaValle – for his success in the winter months.
Sophomore season, Green rode a five-game point streak during which he recorded 13 points to a team highs in goals (15), points (33) and plus-minus (8).
On an offensively-challenged team in 2018-19, Green was tops on the RedHawks with 11 goals and finished one point off the team lead in points with 25.
Then Bergeron was hired prior to this season, and he has coached Green to his best all-around season by far.
“He’s really around the other team’s net, whether that’s scoring goals or creating opportunities to score for his linemates,” Bergeron said. “He’s got a deceptive quickness with the puck – there’s some guys that skate north better than him, but he really gets there and he can separate when he’s got the puck on his stick, create time and space for himself in that situation.”
The Greens had a previous relationship with Bergeron. Bergeron recruited Gordie’s older brother, Charlie, to play at Bowling Green, and the families sat together at former RedHawk Chris Michael’s wedding.
“I think we’ve had a really good relationship throughout this whole season, and (Berg) has given me a lot of responsibility, and I’m thankful for that,” Green said. “I think Miami hockey is going to be in great hands with him, him and coach (Barry) Schutte and Coach (Eric Rud).”
On Dec. 30, 2019, Green became the 53rd player in MU history to reach the 100-point mark. He needed two points heading into that night’s game at Bowling Green.
Green picked up three.
Since then, he has passed such RedHawks greats as former linemate Josh Melnick, Blake Coleman, Andy Greene and Brian Savage, whose son, Ryan is a freshman on the team.
Green said Brian Savage and Melnick have texted him encouragement as he approached and ultimately eclipsed their career totals.
With the NCHC and NCAA Tournaments canceled, Green’s final career points total stands at 115, tying him with Marty Guerin and Bobby Marshall for No. 36 on the team’s all-time leaderboard.
That’s five points shy of Bergeron.
“It’s cool to see yourself with all the great Miami hockey alums, it’s an honor to be on a list with all those names,” Green said.
Despite having his senior season called early, Green still finished with the highest single-season point total (36) for any Miamian since 2017, including goals in his final four games as a RedHawk.
And those are just the measurable stats.
Despite being 5-feet, 8-inches tall and 170 pounds, Green has laid out his share of hits in his four years with the RedHawks, and he has no problem winning battles for loose pucks against much bigger opponents.
His speed and two-way play helps him thrive in 4-on-4 situations, and as of the team’s best defensive forwards, Green has become arguably Miami’s top penalty killer up front.
“He’s been a consistent guy on the penalty kill, and obviously a pretty good contributor on the power play and 5-on-5,” Bergeron said. “Him and Karch and (Casey) Gilling have had a really, really good year from start to finish, in my opinion.”
The difficulty for a coach having such a versatile player as Green, especially on a team which isn’t terribly deep up front, is trying not to overplay him.
Fortunately for Miami, Green’s stamina is nearly limitless. Many nights he has logged in excess of 20 minutes and he never seems fatigued.
“It’s something that I’ve been in pretty consistent contact with him about,” Bergeron said. “His fitness is off the charts, he’s a guy who can play all day. And he doesn’t cheat the game in terms of playing hard. He’s an offensive guy, so his mind is going to go to the offensive side of things all the time, but even in the times when he’s tired, he’s still competitive. He’s pretty relentless on the puck, stay-on-it mentality, and he doesn’t get away from that when he’s tired. My point of saying that is I don’t think he gets tired. He definitely recovers as quick as anybody we have.”
Said Bachman: “Because he’s my roommate I get to see him rest up here at home. Outside of that, in the weight room, on the ice, he’s got an engine and it’s always going, and it’s consistent too. You can count on him to be that way every game. That’s part of what makes him the kind of player that he is, you get the same work ethic and the same intensity, the same motor every game, and every practice too for that matter.”
Green never missed a game in his four years at MU, dressing for all 145 contests, the first RedHawk to accomplish that since Pat Cannone in 2007-11.
In addition to all of his on-ice skills, Green has proven an effective leader as team captain. As assistant in 2018-19, Green was the only skater to wear a letter for Miami this season, largely due to first-year coach Bergeron’s lack of familiarity with his players at the time.
“His competitiveness is contagious, I know his personality is one that’s welcoming and makes people feel part of it right away, and that’s why we wanted him to be a leader this year,” Bergeron said. “He’s one of those kids that has time for everybody, and that is a really strong compliment as far as I’m concerned. Sometimes you get caught up in where people are in the lineup and who’s on the power play or who isn’t – he doesn’t get caught up in that. He’s definitely a very positive kid every day. Unfortunately I don’t think Miami’s exactly what he signed up for in terms of the winning and the losing. In terms of a four-year experience, I don’t think he’d trade it for anything. He’s just a great kid to be around every day. He really is.”
And being his roommate as well as his linemate as well as a four-year teammate, Bachman is as familiar with Green’s personality as anyone on the team.
“He’s a great leader – I would definitely say Gordie is relationship-oriented,” Bachman said. “He’s one of those that no matter the situation, no matter who’s watching, he always puts his teammates before himself. He’s a selfless kid, a great kid, a guy you want to look up to and a guy you want to play hard for. He deserves the letter – he’s worked so hard, and as a senior, I’ve gotten to see him every year and be right next to him, and he’s done a great job with it. It hasn’t affected his play, it hasn’t affected his mentality, he’s calm and collected, he’s not in there blowing up on us every game or every practice or when things go wrong. At the end of the day he’s not only one of those players that you look up to but one of those human beings that you look up to as well.”
Like most elite playmaking forwards, Green has not only racked up numbers for himself, he has made the numerous linemates he has played with over four seasons better as well.
“He’s a guy that we can play with whomever in our lineup,” Bergeron said. “The only place he hasn’t played is on defense, and don’t think we haven’t thought at times maybe we should put him back there.”
Sherwood and Melnick are among those whose numbers ballooned playing alongside Green, and Bachman and Gilling have reaped that benefit this season.
Bachman nearly doubled his offensive output this season compared to last, and Gilling, a junior, finished with as many points in 2019-20 as his first two campaigns combined.
“He’s so easy to play with,” Bachman said. “I got to play with him here and there the past few years, and it’s exciting when you get to see your name on the same line as Gordie Green. He’s got that offensive ability where he put pucks in the net, but he’s so good at seeing the ice and finding the open man. I feel playing with Gordie you have the puck on your stick more, even if that’s not the case you’re on offense more because he rarely makes bad decisions and turns the puck over. You could put guys that are in and out of the lineup right now on a line with him and they’d produce, too.
“You build that chemistry over time, and now there’s certain tendencies that I have – and there’s certain tendencies that he has as well – so getting to play on the same line is huge for us. He sees the ice so well and can make plays so well that all I have to do is jump out of the zone and I get chances, because he finds a way to get the puck on my stick.”
Green – and the entire junior and senior classes – have played for eight coaches in three seasons, with Bergeron taking over the top job last off-season and the pair of assistants turning over each of the past two years.
“College is the one place you sign up for and you don’t think there’s going to be much change – in juniors and everything you always have that chance of being traded,” Green said. “The first transition was really tough for me because Coach (Brent) Brekke was the one that brought me in. That was tough to see him go, and Coach (Nick Petraglia) too, but it’s nice because Coach Trags is still around the rink and we see him all the time, still being on campus. It’s just different adapting to different coaches, even some different styles. It’s also been a positive, because I want to be a hockey coach some day, and I’ve built all these relationships with all these hockey coaches so it’s something that I can hopefully use in the future with the connections. This year’s coaching staff has been great for myself, the seniors and is going to be great for Miami hockey going forward.”
The revolving door of coaches has made personnel and systemic stability difficult for Miami hockey, and the program’s wins total has suffered. Green leads a class that finished with just 40 wins and a winning percentage of .348.
The RedHawks never advanced beyond the first round of the NCHC Tournament during Green’s career. No NCAA berths, not even a winning season.
“It’s definitely not been what I signed up for, results-wise, coming into a program that has made the tournament 10 of the last (13) years before I’d gotten here…that’s obviously the goal and the standard of you want to strive for, being the top competitor in your league, making the NCAA Tournament,” Green said. “You don’t really think about it, during it, as much. Looking back at it now it’s something that’s a little disappointing because you want to build that Miami hockey legacy and you want to be a part of that Miami winning tradition, but I think this year this team’s taken some big strides together as a coaching staff and players together, we’ve been building back up to what we want Miami hockey to be. From the culture standpoint we’re building it back to where Miami hockey is heading and where we want it to head, and putting it back in the right direction. I think that’s something I can say I’m really proud of.”
Despite Miami’s lack of on-ice success, Green has no regrets about his time at Oxford.
“So much fun, all the relationships I’ve built, the teammates, the other students, coaches, bands, everything – it’s been amazing,” Green said. “Looking back at it, I wouldn’t have wanted to go to any other school. It was my dream school and it was everything that I wanted it to be. Obviously I wanted more wins, but that’s beside the point. The school’s been awesome, the education has been great, I’ve loved every moment with my teammates. I love the social life and everything that Miami has to offer. It’s been an amazing four years.”