FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. - Although several members of Miami University's hockey team have already claimed awards and honors this week, the RedHawks could be taking home a lot more at the CCHA Awards March 22 as Miami had one person named a finalist for each of the six top individual honors presented by the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, as the finalists were announced Thursday. The winners of each of the six major individual awards will be revealed at the CCHA Awards Show.
Miami was the only team to claim one of the three finalist spots for each individual award. Western Michigan was second with a finalist for four of the six honors. Sophomore forward Austin Czarnik is up for CCHA Player of the Year and Best Defensive Forward while his freshman linemate, Riley Barber, is a finalist for CCHA Rookie of the Year. Freshman Matthew Caito is a finalist for Best Offensive Defenseman while his defensive partner at Miami, senior captain Steven Spinell, is one of three nominees for Best Defensive Defenseman. Head coach Enrico Blasi is a finalist for CCHA Coach of the Year, as well.
Czarnik is up against Ohio State senior goaltender Brady Hjelle and Notre Dame junior forward Anders Lee for Player of the Year. A RedHawk has claimed the honor two of the last three years with winning Cody Reichard in 2010 and Andy Miele in 2011 while a Miamian has won the award four times in program history. For Best Defensive Forward, Czarnik is joined by Lee and Western Michigan senior Dane Walters. The last RedHawk to win that award was Tommy Wingels in 2010.
Czarnik (Washington, Mich.), who was tabbed First-Team All-CCHA Wednesday, has played in all 36 games while posting 33 points, which ties for fourth in the CCHA. The 5-foot-9 shifty forward was second on the team with 11 goals while his team-high 22 assists rank third in the league. He has six power play goals, three short-handed goals, which ties for the NCAA lead, and two game-winners. The 20-year-old has posted a +18 rating, which is third in the CCHA, and has 10 multi-point games this season, including three multi-goal outings.
Czarnik was named CCHA Player of the Month for October and also collected CCHA Postgame® Offensive Player of the Week after a five-point weekend vs. Alaska Nov. 30-Dec. 1. In league play only, he tied for fourth with 26 points while his 18 helpers tied for second. He added eight goals in CCHA action, including one game-winner and all three shorties. Czarnik also blocked 29 shots on the year while playing on Miami's top penalty kill unit.
Joining Barber as finalists for Rookie of the Year are Michigan State goaltender Jake Hildebrand and Michigan defenseman Jacob Trouba. No Miami player has ever captured CCHA Rookie of the Year honors.
Barber (Livonia, Mich.), who was a unanimous All-Rookie Team selection on Monday and earned First-Team All-CCHA Wednesday, led the RedHawks offensively, finishing with team highs of 36 points and 15 goals in 34 games. His 36 points lead all CCHA players and are the most among all rookies nationally. His 15 goals rank sixth in the CCHA while he added 21 assists, which ties for fourth in the league and is first among all NCAA freshmen. The skilled forward 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.
Barber totaled a team-high 11 multi-point games on the year and had a point in 19 of 28 league games. In league play, the Capitals prospect posted 30 points, which was second among CCHA players, as was his 1.07 points per game average. His 12 goals in league play tied for fourth in the league while his 18 assists in conference action were tied for second in the CCHA. Barber has three game-winning goals on the year and a +13 rating, as well.
All three finalists for Best Offensive Defenseman are freshmen, as joining Caito up for the award are Western Michigan's Kenney Morrison and Trouba. The last RedHawk to claim the honor was current New Jersey Devil Andy Greene, who won it back-to-back in 2005 and 2006.
Caito (Coto de Caza, Calif.) is the lone Miami defenseman to play in all 36 games this year. He totaled 18 points on the season, which ties for seventh in the CCHA among defensemen. Caito scored five goals during the year, all in league play, and dished out 13 assists. He earned CCHA Gladiator® Defenseman of the Week three times, more than any other defenseman. Of his 18 points, 16 came in league play. In addition, Caito leads the team with 63 blocked shots this year and carries a +11 rating. He was named to the Three Rivers Classic All-Tournament Team earlier this season, as well.
Along with Spinell, the other finalists for Best Defensive Defenseman are WMU's Dan DeKeyser, who won the award last year as a sophomore, and Bowling Green senior Bobby Shea. The last Miamian to win the honor was Will Weber in 2010.
Spinell (Vernon Hills, Ill.) is second on the team with 60 blocked shots, which is 11th in the league. He boasts a +13 rating, which ties for second on the squad, while anchoring the second-best defense in the country, statistically. The captain has totaled 10 points, including nine assists, while playing in 34 games this year, missing just two to injury. He notched his lone goal of the year Feb. 15 on the power play in a win over Notre Dame. His 10 points are second among Miami's defensemen while his 48 penalty minutes are third among RedHawks. Spinell was tabbed to the Three Rivers Classic All-Tournament Team earlier this season, as well.
Joining Blasi as finalists for CCHA Coach of the Year are Western Michigan head man Andy Murray and Ohio State coach Mark Osiecki. Blasi, in his 14th year at the helm of his alma mater, has been named CCHA Coach of the Year four times previously, last earning the honor in 2010.
Blasi and his staff guided the RedHawks to just 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. 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.
The CCHA Awards kick off CCHA Championship Weekend on Friday, March 22. The banquet, an Academy Awards-style event with music videos and highlights, is held at historic Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. The event begins with a social hour at 6 p.m. The world premiere of the Celebrating the Legacy DVD starts at 7 p.m., followed by the Awards Program at 7:30 p.m. Awards Show tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling the CCHA at (248) 888-0600 or at the door the day of the event.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Austin Czarnik, Miami
Brady Hjelle, Ohio State
Anders Lee, Notre Dame
COACH OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Enrico Blasi, Miami
Andy Murray, Western Michigan
Mark Osiecki, Ohio State
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Riley Barber, Miami
Jake Hildebrand, Michigan State
Jacob Trouba, Michigan
BEST OFFENSIVE DEFENSEMAN FINALISTS
Matthew Caito, Miami
Kenney Morrison, Western Michigan
Jacob Trouba, Michigan
BEST DEFENSIVE DEFENSEMAN FINALISTS
Dan DeKeyser, Western Michigan
Bobby Shea, Bowling Green
Steven Spinell, Miami
BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD FINALISTS
Austin Czarnik, Miami
Anders Lee, Notre Dame
Dane Walters, Western Michigan