Austin Czarnik: Miami's Horse on the Ice

Miami players warm up prior to a game against Providence College on October 26, 2013. - Jeff Cox

Miami junior captain Austin Czarnik will look to lead the RedHawks back to the NCAA Tournament for a ninth straight season.

Providence, RI -- Many in the press box wondered if Austin Czarnik ever left the ice over the two games at Schneider Arena this past weekend. The junior from Washington, Mich. seemed to be constantly buzzing around Providence defensemen and keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

"He seems to be a guy that thrives off the more ice he gets. He's our leader. Sometimes he wants to take the team on his shoulders. Sometimes he can, and does a good job at it," said Miami coach Rico Blasi.

With the games so close, and Miami finding itself in positions where it needed to score, Czarnik was on the ice a lot. He's one of those dynamic players in college hockey that has the ability to change the outcome of a game every time he touches the ice.

"It's tough on the body, but Coach puts me out there, and I just do my job," said Czarnik. "I love the [pressure]. It's one of my favorite times to play because I feel like I can produce for us," added Czarnik.

Czarnik's name was also a constant in the box score as he assisted on five of the six Miami goals on the weekend. "He had a pretty good weekend, he usually does," said Blasi.

"He's a difference maker for their team," said Providence coach Nate Leaman.

It can be difficult for Czarnik to make room for himself and be the player Miami needs him to be with all the attention he draws from opposing teams. "Sometimes it's tough because he's a marked man. Everyone is after him," said Blasi.

Czarnik's linemate Riley Barber, a Washington Capitals prospect, had three goals and an assist on the weekend. Sean Kuraly and Blake Coleman were two other Miami players that impressed over the weekend, and will certainly make their presence known in the NCHC this season.

Goaltender Ryan McKay had a shaky first period, but both Jay Williams and he made some key saves on the weekend. "Miami is known for having great goaltenders. We had [to face] McKay tonight and Williams last night," said Leaman.

The RedHawks have had a brutal schedule to start the season with a home-and-home against Ohio State, a series versus North Dakota and this past weekend's trip to Providence.

Miami will return to Steve Cady Arena inside the Goggin Ice Center this weekend to host Canisius College for a pair of games. The Golden Griffins might not have the name recognition of the first three MU opponents, but they're the defending Atlantic Hockey Champions, an NCAA Tournament team from a year ago, and fresh off a road victory at Denver.

Jeff Cox covers college and junior hockey, NCAA recruiting, NHL Draft prospects and the AHL for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.

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