Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Young defenseman takes leadership role

Plattsburgh State sophomore defenseman Philip Middleton demonstrates that leadership does not demand age. After a long junior hockey career, Middleton finds himself in the leadership group that looks to lead the Cardinals toward lofty goals.Plattsburgh State sophomore defenseman Philip Middleton demonstrates that leadership does not demand age. After a long junior hockey career, Middleton finds himself in the leadership group that looks to lead the Cardinals toward lofty goals.Middleton began playing hockey 20 years ago, at the age of two.

While his parents were skiers, and his uncle and cousins were professional and world-champion ultimate frisbee players, Middleton believes that he was turned to hockey by the Colorado Avalanche, who moved to Denver from Quebec City in 1995.The defenseman from Vail, Colorado came to PSUC at the end of a junior hockey career that had already taken him far from home.

“I was playing in Topeka, Kansas in the North American Hockey League, and then I thought that it was time for a change,” Middleton said.That meant joining the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL).“It was a big point in my life,” Middleton said. “In terms of personal development, it was a risk-and-reward factor, and it worked out well for me.”Middleton credits his time in the BCHL for readying him to move on to collegiate hockey.“That league is fast and very skilled,” Middleton said.

“There were some NHL guys and a lot of Division I guys I got to play against. It was a great way for me to be exposed to such high-end play.”Coming out of the junior leagues, Middleton was recruited by former PSUC assistant coach Mike Coppola to join the Cards.  “Talking to him in the recruiting process, we knew he was a quality individual and a great leader,” PSUC head coach Bob Emery said. “It made us want him even more.”“As I did more research, Plattsburgh just seemed like the best fit,” Middleton said.

“I knew about this area because I had visited Clarkson and St. Lawrence on some recruiting trips.”While Middleton was recruited by those Division I programs, as well as St. Cloud State, he ultimately decided that Plattsburgh was the place for him. Middleton said a part of this was a sense of familiarity with the proximity to the mountains.“I do just about everything you want a mountain kid to do,” Middleton said. Middletons said that includes skiing, mountaineering and fishing.Kathryn believes that Middleton knows that he made the right choice.

“He never second-guessed his decision,” Kathryn saidIn only his second season with the Cards, Middleton was voted into the leadership group in recognition of the qualities that the coaching staff had identified in the recruiting process.“It is quite the honor to be one of the captains of such a historic team and organization,” Middleton said.

“But I didn’t get voted captain for doing something that I’m not.”Middleton, who was described by Kathryn as an “old soul”, feels that the opportunities he had to travel around the world have contributed to his maturity. “It has made me a more well-rounded person because I’ve gotten to see so many different areas of the world, from Switzerland to the Maasai villages in Africa,” Middleton said.However, Middleton cites something closer to home for his achievements.

His family, including his supportive parents and grandparents who enabled him to play, have long been his biggest fans.“My family support is the main reason why I am here today,” Middleton said. Middleton, who has a triple-major in global supply chain management, international business, and business administration, interned at Northwestern Mutual and continues to work on networking. However, he holds out hopes for another path.“Obviously, I still want to play pro hockey,” Middleton said.

“The way that this organization has helped guys move on to the pro level is amazing.”Before he pursues either path, Middleton hopes to lead the Cards to a their goal of a national championship, especially with this year’s championship hosted by PSUC at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York. “We have the right pieces,” Middleton said. “So hopefully within the next two to three years we will have a ring on our finger.”

Email Nathanael LePage atsports@cardinalpointsonline.com

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