CCHA Awards Night
In the grand scheme of things, tonight doesn’t mean much. However, as the last season of the CCHA draws to a close, Miami has a lot of hardware on the line this evening. Tonight is the CCHA Awards Show (tickets are still available), and with a player/coach nominated in each of the categories, Miami could haul home some nice individual honors. Every person involved with the team will tell you the same, that tonight’s awards are team awards, or tonight’s awards don’t mean anything if the Hawks don’t get it done ON the ice in the next 4 weeks. Here’s our take on how tonight will go down.
Best Defensive Forward
Finalists: Austin Czarnik (Sophomore, Miami), Anders Lee (Junior, Notre Dame), Dane Walters (Senior, Western Michigan)
With Czarnik’s recent Hobey Baker Top 10 Finalist appointment, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win this award. He does it all on the ice, especially on the penalty kill. Czarnik is always playing a 200-foot game and this race should be close.
Predicted Winner: Dane Walters, WMU
Best Defensive Defenseman
Finalists: Steven Spinell (Senior, Miami), Dan DeKeyser (Junior, Western Michigan), Bobby Shea (Senior, Bowling Green)
Spinell has been a stout defenseman in Oxford for 4 years. He’s the Captain. He’s the student face of the team. His point totals increased over his 4 years in Oxford (4, 7, 12 and he sits at 12 to date this season), and Spinell will get some looks by NHL teams, as he is undrafted.
DeKeyser, also undrafted by the NHL, could have left Western Michigan last year and signed a pro deal. Instead, he came back for his Junior year and will likely get the same attention he got last year. Under the tutelage of former NHL coach Andy Murray, DeKeyser will give Spinell a run for his money in this race.
Predicted Winner: Spinell
Best Offensive Defenseman
Finalists: Matthew Caito (Freshman, Miami), Kenny Morrison (Freshman, Western Michigan), Jacob Trouba (Freshman, Michigan)
Strange that all three of these finalists are Rookies, but they are deserving of the respect. Caito has been great, and I’m excited to see what he does in his next 3 years in Oxford. However, there’s not going to be a race here. 9 goals and 23 points from the blue line will win you this award every year.
Predicted Winner: Trouba, Michigan
CCHA Rookie of the Year
Finalists: Riley Barber (Miami), Jake Hildebrand (Michigan State), Trouba (Michigan)
Barber leads the CCHA in overall scoring with 38 points and does it all: power play, penalty kill, stay at home defense, spectacular offense. This shouldn’t be close.
Predicted Winner: Barber
CCHA Coach of the Year
Finalists: Enrico Blasi (Miami), Andy Murray (Western Michigan), Mark Osiecki (Ohio State)
To say that this is Rico’s to win is an understatement. This is truly Rico’s masterpiece. He has taken a team that lost boat loads of scoring, has 12 freshman and 13 total new faces, and won the CCHA regular season. Even if there isn’t a Frozen Four in the mix, Blasi’s work this year is nothing short of brilliant.
Murray has done a nice job at Western, but they have many of the same key components of last year, as compared to Miami who lost half of its blueline, and a very large chunk of scoring from the forwards. Osiecki has done fine as well, but nowhere near what Blasi has done.
Predicted Winner: Blasi
CCHA Player of the year
Finalists: Czarnik, Brady Hjelle (Senior, Ohio State), Anders Lee (Junior, Notre Dame)
Some have said that Hjelle might be the best goaltender in the country. I’m not exactly sure where that comes from, considering he’s the third, possibly 4th best goalie in Ohio (see: Ryan McKay, Jay Williams and BGSU’s Andrew Hammond, who just signed an NHL contract after BGSU was done in the CCHA tournament). His stats are impressive, and are bolstered by the fact that he played in 33 of the team’s 42 games this season. His GAA and Save % are both second in the CCHA, but he was still named to the All-CCHA first team (?!?!?!?!?).
Anders Lee finished second in Overall Scoring (Riley Barber), and led Notre Dame to quite a season (19G, 18A). However, Notre Dame needed leadership to win the CCHA’s regular season title, and the team lost several games down the stretch that cost them that title. Lee has another year in South Bend, and should be one of the stars of Hockey East next year, as ND takes flight for the east coast.
Czarnik’s leadership and poise under pressure, to go along with his stellar stats (16 G, 22 A) should get him this honor. He was named as the only CCHA nominee to the Hobey Baker Award Top 10 Finalists and should bring home the hardware tonight.
Predicted Winner: Czarnik
Full CCHA nomination list: http://www.ccha.com/ccha_announces_finalists_for_top_individual_awards_2013.aspx?pg=9