DETROIT - Miami senior goaltenders Connor Knapp and Cody Reichard each took home hardware Thursday night at the annual Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Awards held at the Fox Theater, while three other RedHawks were also recognized for their achievements during the year. Reichard won the Ilitch Humanitarian Award while Knapp was named Best Goaltender. Junior forward Reilly Smith, freshman forward Austin Czarnik and senior forward Alden Hirschfeld were all recognized for awards that were announced last week, as well.
Reichard (Celina, Ohio) was awarded one of the league’s most prestigious honors in the Ilitch Humanitarian Award, which is given to a player who had tremendous philanthropic efforts. In 2010, Reichard founded Swoop’s Stoop, a program whose mission is to provide life-enriching experiences to area kids facing life-changing illnesses. The program works by bringing a sick child from Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital to a Miami home hockey game, where they and their family receive game tickets, a t-shirt, a bracelet and free food and drink. The child is also recognized during the game. In addition, Reichard, Swoop (Miami’s RedHawk mascot) and several Miami teammates visit Children’s Hospital at least once a month to play and interact with sick children. The senior netminder also brings posters and towels for the children that are signed by players. This year, Reichard successfully brought a corporate sponsor (Step Resources) into the mix, and has raised more than $16,000 to further help the Swoop’s Stoop cause, which went toward having Swoop’s Stoop blankets made for the children at the hospital. He also hopes to eventually help offset some medical costs for the children’s families and build a new play room for the hospital.
Reichard painted his goalie mask this year to help promote Swoop’s Stoop and the mask will be auctioned off at the end of the year to raise money for the program. Miami also wore special Swoop’s Stoop jerseys on Saturday, Feb. 11 against Alabama-Huntsville, which were auctioned off with the proceeds benefiting Swoop’s Stoop.
Knapp (York, N.Y.) became the fourth RedHawk to win the CCHA’s Best Goaltender Award, joining Chuck Thuss (1995), Charlie Effinger (2006) and Reichard (2010). Knapp posted a league-best 1.41 goals-against average in 16 CCHA games, which is the fifth-best single-season GAA in league history. He was also first with a .945 save percentage in CCHA action while posting four shutouts. On the year, he leads the country with a 1.43 GAA and is second nationally with a .943 save percentage, both of which would be school single-season records, while his five shutouts tie for third nationally. He was named Honorable Mention All-CCHA while earning CCHA Goalie of the Month for February. The Buffalo Sabres prospect also earned CCHA Goalie of the Week four times, the most of any goalie, while garnering Inside College Hockey (INCH) National Player of the Week twice.
Smith (Mimico, Ont.) took home the CCHA’s Perani Cup, given to the CCHA Player who collects the most Perani Cup points during the season by being named one of the game’s three starts. He was named one of the game’s three starts 13 times in 28 league games while earning first-star honors six times, totaling 45 points. A player earns five points for a first start, three for a second star and one for a third star. Smith is the second straight RedHawk to win it, joining Andy Miele from last year, and just the third non-goalie to win the cup in the 12-year history of the award.
Smith was also recognized for being named First-Team All-CCHA, which was announced last Wednesday. Czarnik was honored for being tabbed to the CCHA All-Rookie Team, which was announced last Monday while Hirschfeld was acknowledged for being Miami’s CCHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year nominee, which was announced last Tuesday.
The all-conference teams are voted on by the league’s head coaches while the best goaltender award is given to the goalie with the best GAA in league play and the Humanitarian Award is chosen by the league office.
Miami faces Western Michigan Friday at 4:35 p.m. in the CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena.