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Cheswick’s Liberati brothers hope to climb hockey ranks together

Jerin Steele
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Indy Fuel
Miles Liberati, a Springdale native, is playing as a defenseman with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL.
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Indy Fuel
Miles Liberati, a Springdale graduate, plays in a game for the Indy Fuel of the ECHL.

Cheswick natives and brothers Miles and Mario Liberati carved out different careers in hockey. Miles is a professional player in the ECHL, and Mario works on the business side.

A few weeks ago, their careers came together.

Mario received a job offer with 85 Sports Management, a startup hockey player management company, and he is working with Miles as his player representative.

Miles, a defenseman, is in his third year as a pro and is playing with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL after a trade from Allen (Texas) in October. He was represented by an agency at the time, so once Mario got the job, he asked his brother about working together.

“I want to help him out and maybe move up the ranks from the ECHL up to the (American Hockey League) and then, hopefully, the NHL someday,” Mario said. “I approached him about how he would feel about it, because at the end of the day, it’s his career and his future. Basically, I was asking him to hire us. We’re all going to work together to help Miles as much as possible. We were all pretty excited when Miles said he’d go with us. The company is in its first year of operation, so it was a big deal to get Miles on board.”

Miles, 23, has been happy with his decision to work with his younger brother and the rest of the management team.

“They have people that have worked in both amateur and at the professional levels,” Miles said. “Mario works with them, and he deals with me. Their head guy and their contract guy have been in my corner ever since I’ve signed with them. They’re pushing for AHL and NHL teams to come watch me, and that’s all I can ask for is an opportunity.”

Mario developed a love for hockey since watching Miles play in the Ontario Hockey League, and he wanted to work in the game. Throughout his high school years at Springdale, he worked as a scout for various junior organizations, including the Johnstown Tomahawks of the NAHL. There, he met Nick Shackford, who was an assistant coach.

While scouting in State College a few weeks ago, Mario ran into Shackford, who began discussing 85 Sports Management, the company he co-founded with Niles Moore, and he offered Mario a job.

85 Sports Management works with junior players in an advisory role and professional players with representation and contracts. Mario is enjoying his new venture. His job is to find players, and he’s doing that while going through his freshman year at Slippery Rock.

“Over the last few years, I’ve made a few stops in different places and I’ve learned a ton, but (85 Sports Management) is a lot different from what I have been doing,” Mario said. “I did a lot of scouting and a lot of team stuff. With this, you’re not working for a particular team but more for the player. At the same time, you have to work well with teams, too, to build good relationships to represent your clients in the best possible way.

“I’m working with a lot of players with a lot of teams in a lot of different leagues. It’s really good to see the different sides of the game. It’ll be a tremendous experience in my path going forward.”

Miles spent the past couple of seasons with the Allen Americans after being traded there by the Reading Royals. This season, Miles moved from defense to forward while at Allen because of injuries, which led to Miles being sent to Indy for forward Johnny McInnis.

The move to Indy, a Chicago Blackhawks affiliate, has been positive. Miles averaged about 24 minutes and played on the power play and penalty kill before an injury sidelined him. He expects to be back in a few weeks to help Indy during the stretch run.

Miles has a goal and four assists in 24 games.

“It was actually kind of an adjustment because I wasn’t used to playing that many minutes, but now that I’m getting that opportunity, I feel that I’m doing well with it,” Miles said. “I’m playing power play, penalty kill and being put in different situations at the end of games. All of that has definitely helped me develop my game, and I feel like I’m becoming a better player.”

Trades are nothing new for Miles. He was traded twice during his junior days and he’s been traded twice in his professional career. Miles said it helped him become a more mature person even if it wasn’t always an easy transition.

“When I got traded from Reading to Allen, I called my parents and basically said I wasn’t going and that I was done playing,” Miles said. “I was ready to be finished and start looking at other options, because I was getting tired of all the trade stuff happening in my career. Then I thought about it, and then decided to give it a chance. Once I went down there, I loved it. I got to play a lot of minutes, and we ended up having a really good season. I felt like I got better as a player.

“Now that I was traded (to Indy) I feel like my game has gone up. I’ve had a lot of opportunity to play, and I feel I’ve taken advantage of it. I think this is going to be my best season as a pro. We’re about halfway through the season, but once I get back from this injury, I feel I’ll be able to jump right back into it.”

Miles is hopeful to help Indy make the playoffs and to continue climbing the professional hockey ranks, something that Mario might be able to help him with in the future.

“The goal is to move up as high as I can go,” Miles said. “I’m confident in myself that I can play in the American League.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.