DETROIT – Coming off a CCHA regular-season title, the Miami University hockey team added some individual hardware to its collection Friday night at the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s Awards Show held at the historic Fox Theatre, as the RedHawks captured three of the league’s top awards. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik won CCHA Player of the Year, head coach Enrico Blasi claimed CCHA Coach of the Year and freshman forward Riley Barber earned CCHA Rookie of the Year.
Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) is the fifth Miamian to be named CCHA Player of the Year and third in the last four years. He joins Brian Savage (1993), Derek Edwardson (2004), Cody Reichard (2010) and Andy Miele (2011) as former Miami players to win the league’s top individual honor.
Czarnik, who was named one of 10 Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists on Thursday, was a First-Team All-CCHA honoree this year, as well, and was a finalist for CCHA Best Defensive Forward. An All-CCHA Rookie Team honoree last year as a freshman, the shifty center has totaled 36 points on 14 goals and 22 assists while playing in all 39 games. His 36 points and 22 helpers both rank fourth in the league, while his 14 goals tie for 11th. In league play only, Czarnik tied for fourth with 26 points in 28 games, while his 18 helpers tied for second. He also scored eight goals in CCHA play, including one of his three game-winning goals, which were his first career game-winners.
Czarnik was named CCHA Player of the Month for October after totaling eight points in six games and also collected CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week after a five-point weekend vs. Alaska Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. The 20-year-old undrafted free agent has tallied 11 multi-point games on the year, including four multi-goal games and seven multi-assist contests. He tied a career high with three three-point games this season. Czarnik leads the entire NCAA by himself with four short-handed goals while tallying one power play goal. The 5-foot-9 pivot boasts a +20 rating, which is second in the CCHA and ties for 10th nationally, and has blocked 32 shots while playing on Miami’s top penalty kill and power play units.
Blasi picked up his fifth CCHA Coach of the Year Award, which is the second-most in league history behind only legendary coach Ron Mason, who won the honor seven times. Blasi’s other Coach of the Year awards came in 2000-01, 2003-04, 2005-06 and 2009-10. A Miami coach has now claimed the honor eight times as George Gwozdecky was a two-time recipient (1991-92 and 1992-93) and Mark Mazzoleni won it in 1996-97.
Blasi and his staff guided the RedHawks to the program's fourth ever CCHA regular-season championship in 2012-13. Miami was picked to finish fifth in the preseason media poll and fourth in the preseason coaches' poll and didn’t receive a single first-place vote. The RedHawks lost 12 players from their 2011-12 squad, including 10 seniors and two NHL prospects, and brought in 13 newcomers this year, including 11 freshmen. Of the 26 men on the roster this season, 18 are freshmen or sophomores, yet Blasi guided Miami to an eighth straight 20-win season and a fourth straight appearance in the CCHA Semifinals at Joe Louis Arena. He also earned his 300th career win Jan. 25 vs. Bowling Green.
Barber (Pittsburgh, Pa.) becomes the first RedHawk to ever win CCHA Rookie of the Year. He was the first freshman to earn First-Team All-CCHA honors since 2003-04 and was the lone unanimous selection to the CCHA All-Rookie Team. The Capitals prospect leads Miami and the entire CCHA with 38 points in 37 games, while his 15 goals and 23 assists are both tops on the team. His 23 assists are third in the league and tops among all rookies nationally, as are his 38 points, while his 15 goals tie for sixth in the league and rank first among freshmen in the CCHA.
Barber was named CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Week four times, more than any other freshman, and was tabbed CCHA Gongshow® Rookie of the Month twice (October and November), including Hockey Commissioners' Association National Rookie of the Month in October. In league play, the skilled winger posted 30 points, which was second among all CCHA players, while his 12 goals in league play tied for fourth and his 18 assists in conference action were tied for second. Barber recorded a team-high 12 multi-point games on the season, including a two-goal game and four multi-assist contests, while tallying three game-winning goals and four power play goals. He also carries a +15 rating.
During the CCHA Awards Show, Czarnik and Barber were given their awards for earning First-Team All-CCHA while Barber, defenseman Matthew Caito and goaltender Ryan McKay all received their CCHA All-Rookie Team awards. Barber was also Miami’s Perani Cup winner for accumulating the most Perani Cup points for being a star of the game during the season, while he was the top forward in the league among Perani Cup points. Senior defenseman and captain Steven Spinell was also honored for being Miami’s CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominee.
The all-conference and all-rookie teams and the top individual awards are all voted on by the league’s head coaches.
No. 3 and top-seeded Miami faces seventh-seeded Michigan Saturday in the second CCHA semifinal at 4:35 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit+.