Chris Cullum, Columnist

When the Boston Bruins took the ice to face the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night, the Miami University hockey Brotherhood saw a familiar face: former RedHawk star Carter Camper made his NHL debut with the Bruins, replacing the injured Rich Peverley and marking the ascent of another Miamian to hockey’s highest level.

From someone who saw Camper play from behind the glass, from the press box at Goggin Ice Arena and on TV, this is not only a well-deserved move, but also an expected one. Despite his size, Camper always had a nose for the net during his days at Miami, finishing his career with 183 points and 114 assists, both which rank second in school history.

Others around the NHL, however, might shrug at the debut of yet another former RedHawk, as Camper’s NHL debut will be the third for a former member of the Brotherhood this season alone.

Jarod Palmer started with the Minnesota Wild in mid-December, and last season’s Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele played his first game with the Phoenix Coyotes in October.

Aside from those three, there are five more former RedHawks in the NHL. The most prominent RedHawk player to lace up the skates in the NHL is perhaps defenseman Dan Boyle.

Since making his debut in the 1998-99 season, Boyle has played in 809 games with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks, and in 2004, he hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup as a member of the Lightning. He scored two goals and tallied eight assists during his team’s championship run. And in case his trophy case was feeling a bit empty, in 2010, he was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning Olympic squad.

Another player who once donned the Red and White before moving on to the big show is former RedHawk Captain Tommy Wingels. Since making his NHL debut October 8, 2010 for the San Jose Sharks, Wingels has played in just 18 games during his career, but he scored his first career goal against the Chicago Blackhawks this season. And, Feb. 16, he assisted on a goal with Boyle in a moment that united two former Miami greats.

While Wingels and Boyle have teamed up for the Sharks this year in a Miami dream-team fashion, Wingels still gets his share of Central Collegiate Hockey Association rivalries even in the pros. In a game against Columbus earlier this week, he had his first career fight against Blue Jacket, (and former Ohio State Buckeye) R.J. Umberger.

The list continues with Ryan Jones, a member of the Edmonton Oilers, and defensemen Andy Greene and Alec Martinez, who are also on active NHL rosters with the New Jersey Devils and Los Angeles Kings, respectively.

And if the current roster is any indication, those numbers will only increase in the coming years. Nine current Miami players were selected in the NHL draft, including three freshmen: Tyler Biggs by the Toronto Maple Leafs (first round), Jimmy Mullin by Tampa Bay (fourth round) and Blake Coleman by New Jersey (third round).

In a league where so many of the players come from junior leagues and opt to skip college, it’s refreshing to see an infusion of college talent into the professional ranks. So you better keep your Miami jersey handy for the future because chances are, if you head to an NHL game, you’ll find a former RedHawk to support.

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