OXFORD, Ohio – Although the 2013-14 Miami hockey season is still over three months away, the RedHawks have already chosen their leader for the upcoming campaign as rising junior forward Austin Czarnik was selected as the team’s captain, head coach Enrico Blasi announced Monday.

“Austin is a great example of what we as a program continue to strive for -- being in the moment and trying to be a better version of ourselves every day. Austin’s passion and love for his teammates, as seen both on and off the ice, made him a clear choice,” Blasi said. “That said, our team is full of leaders, each with their own responsibility to support and hold each other accountable to the Miami Brotherhood standard.”

Czarnik (Washington, Mich.) becomes the 77th Miami player in program history to serve as a captain, including assistant captains. He replaces Steven Spinell, who was the lone captain in 2012-13 and graduated this past spring. Czarnik will be the first junior to don the “C” on his sweater for Miami since Tommy Wingels was captain in 2009-10. No assistant captains have been named at this point.

Czarnik joins an elite group of Miami captains that includes Stanley Cup winners Kevyn Adams (1995-96) and Dan Boyle (1997-98), as well as several All-Americans, such as Brian Savage (1991-93), Bobby Marshall (1993-94), Derek Edwardson (2002-04), Andy Greene (2003-06), Ryan Jones (2005-08), Nathan Davis (2006-08) and Carter Camper (2010-11). Blasi himself was a captain for Miami from 1992-94, while the program’s first captain was Gary DeLonge in 1978-79.

“It’s a huge honor to be the captain for Miami,” Czarnik said. “I look forward to taking on the responsibility that lies ahead.”

This past season (2012-13), Czarnik was one of just five RedHawks to play in all 42 games. He led the entire Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) with 40 points, including 14 goals, which was second on the team. His 26 assists tied for the CCHA lead. The skilled center was tabbed CCHA Player of the Year, First-Team West All-American, First-Team All-CCHA and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Czarnik helped guide Miami to the final CCHA regular-season title last year and also an appearance in the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional Final. He led the country with four short-handed goals as a sophomore and also scored three game-winning goals.

For his career, Czarnik has played in 82 games, missing just one in his two years so far at Miami. He has already compiled 77 career points, the most of any active RedHawk, on 24 goals and 53 assists. He boasts a +44 career rating while committing 22 penalties for 55 minutes. He already has scored six career short-handed goals, which ties for third in school history. The two-way player also has two career power play goals and has blocked 71 shots over his two seasons.

Czarnik will lead Miami into a new era of RedHawk Hockey in 2013-14, as the program begins its inaugural season in the newly formed National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), of which Miami is a founding member. Miami opens the season with an exhibition game on Saturday, Oct. 5 against Windsor, before beginning the regular season with a home-and-home series against in-state rival Ohio State. The RedHawks play in Columbus Oct. 11, before welcoming the Buckeyes Oct. 12. Miami then kicks off its new conference with the first ever NCHC game on Friday, Oct. 18 against North Dakota at Steve Cady Arena.

The NCHC is an eight-team hockey-only league consisting of Colorado College, Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan, along with Miami. The conference boasts a combined 17 NCAA Championships, 50 Frozen Four berths, 12 Hobey Baker Award winners, including SCSU’s Drew LeBlanc this past year, and 266 All-Americans. The teams have also produced 295 players that went on to play in the NHL. The new league will reward fans every weekend with fast, exciting, action-packed hockey that pits several of the top teams in the country against each other. The NCHC also has agreed to a television deal with CBS Sports Network, assuring at least 18 league games will be broadcast to a national audience this coming season.