Small forward Louis big in the clutch
OXFORD, Ohio – Too small to succeed.
That has been the label given to Anthony Louis his entire life, but he continues to rack up the points despite his detractors’ criticism.
The senior forward who is listed at 5-feet-8, 158 pounds has climbed Miami’s all-time points leaderboard in his four years in Oxford and is currently 22nd in team history with 125 on 45 goals and 80 assists.
“I tend to use it as motivation,” Louis said. “I always wanted to prove people wrong and make it to the next level.”
Louis grew up in Winfield, Ill., a far west suburb of Chicago but now lives slightly closer to the city in West Chicago. He scored 60 times in 66 games between Team Illinois’ Bantam Major and his Under-16 seasons, earning his way onto the U.S. National Development Team.
On the Under-17 team in 2011-12, he netted 27 goals in 49 games, and he was second on the Under-18 team with 51 points the following season, second-best on the team despite facing much tougher competition.
Louie Belpedio, MU’s captain and junior defenseman, played and lived with Louis in Ann Arbor on the USNDT. Belpedio is also from Chicago, and with the tandem’s dads being longtime friends, so too have Belpedio and Louis.
“He keeps proving people wrong – that’s one of his best traits,” Belpedio said. “People always told him he’s too small, and he’ll never made it. Every level he moves up, he gets better. He proves to people that size isn’t necessarily the biggest factor, and his heart’s bigger than his body is.”
Louis turned those negative stereotypes into positives, and he said he developed a thick skin when it comes to dealing with negative comments surrounding his play.
“I wouldn’t say I didn’t believe in myself but I knew it was going to be harder because people thought I was too small,” Louis said. “I definitely used it as a motivator to myself what I could do, and prove people wrong that didn’t believe in me. It made me work (harder) than I would’ve if they weren’t doubting me.”
He earned a silver medal his final season prior to college with the U-18 squad, and Louis also keyed a Four Nations championship by recording five points in four games.
Despite that resume, every team in the NHL passed him by with their first six selections of the 2013 draft. That is, until the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks picked him last in that round.
The hometown Louis was the 181th overall pick in June of 2013.
“Obviously it’s a dream come true,” Louis said. “It’s just the first step to hopefully a few more to make the team. Growing up watching them, it was awesome, and I always wanted to play for them. Now that it’s only a few steps away, it’s going to be a lot of hard work but it’s a pretty exciting process ahead of me.”
Following in a familiar line of players from the Chicago area, Louis chose to play for Miami, where he began his career in the fall of 2013. Knowing the Wingels brothers – NHLer Tommy and brother Johnny, a current senior and student coach – helped seal his decision.
“The culture here at Miami is a big reason why I committed here,” Louis said. “Everyone here has really lived by The Brotherhood – I know there’s some people who think that’s not true – but they really do live by it here, from the staff to the players, all around at the school, just unbelievable people here at Miami. The fans, obviously, and atmosphere are incredible.”
He said the combination of playing against international competition like in the Four Nations tournament parlayed with the U.S. team taking on college teams in exhibitions prepared him for life in Division I college hockey.
But it was a slow start for the offensive whiz, as he was limited to four goals and three assists in his first 17 games wearing a RedHawks sweater.
“Getting used to the system, and obviously guys are bigger,” Louis said. “I don’t think I was as consistent my freshman year, and I was in my own head a little bit, but as I grew as a player I obviously learned how to handle that. Once I did things started going much (better) for me.”
Louis began to thrive as that season progressed. He recorded eight goals and seven assists the final 15 games, notching points in all four of Miami’s postseason games.
While the RedHawks fell a goal short in the NCHC Tournament championship game, Louis earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team as he finished that event with four goals and a pair of helpers.
Louis followed up on that campaign by tallying nine goals and a career-best 27 assists as a sophomore, and once again Louis exceled as games became more important.
He scored twice and set up five more goals in six postseason games, including a 1-1-2 line vs. Providence in his lone NCAA Tournament contest.
In his junior season, Louis amassed 11 markers and 15 assists, and although Miami was limited to two playoff games – in the first round of the NCHC Tournament at Minnesota-Duluth – he scored once and dished for two helpers in that series.
That gave Louis a career 7-9-16 line in 12 postseason games his first three seasons in Oxford, as he has loved college hockey’s spotlight.
“I have a lot of fun with it,” Louis said. “I know a lot of guys are pretty nervous and overthink things. I just try to take it all in and enjoy the atmosphere. I think it’s the most fun time of the year.”
Named an assistant captain last summer, Louis’ goal and points totals are career highs, as he is 13-24-37 this season. For his career, he has 45 goals and 80 assists for 125 points, ranking him 22nd all-time among RedHawks skaters.
One more point would move Louis into a three-way tie for 20th.
“I think that’s obviously a huge accomplishment for him, and I’m happy for him and everything that he’s done,” Belpedio said. “Obviously we’re playing top teams every night, so for him to be able to do that says a lot about him.”
But beyond the offensive stats, Louis has worked to become a more complete player in his four years at Miami.
“My defensive game has gotten much better – this is my first year of penalty killing,” Louis said.
Louis is also proud of how much physically stronger he has become since that freshman campaign. Belpedio has been impressed with Louis’ leadership this season.
“Just because I wear the ‘C’ and he wears the ‘A’ doesn’t mean he’s not just as much of a leader as I am,” Belpedio said. “We work well with each other, and we’re two guys who like to lead by example. He’s a good leader, and he might not be the most vocal guy in the world, but he’s got character traits about him that make everyone else around him better.”
Louis is set to graduate in May, when he will earn a degree in sports management. From there it’s on to the pros, and no matter how his future career in hockey evolves, he will always cherish his Miami years.
“My experience at Miami has been incredible,” Louis said. “All of the people that I’ve met, and as a whole my teammates I’ve grown with – a lot of lifelong friends that I’ll have. And from a hockey (standpoint), it’s just been incredible playing in front of the fans here. Throughout the country, even the alumni supports us well. It’s truly a Brotherhood here. It’s pretty much everything I expected coming in. I’ve really enjoyed it. Hopefully it’s not over.”