Bemidji State's Bitzer named WCHA Player of the Year

Bemidji State's Bitzer named WCHA Player of the Year
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Bemidji State's Bitzer named WCHA Player of the Year

EDINA, Minn. – Bemidji State University junior goaltender Michael Bitzer has been named Western Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year, while head coach Tom Serratore was announced as the WCHA Coach of the Year Tuesday as the league named its individual award recipients for 2016-17.

Bitzer finished the regular season as the WCHA’s goaltending champion, posting the league’s best save percentage (.940), goals against average (1.40), win total (20) and winning percentage (.778), while he tied for the WCHA’s lead with five shutouts in association play.

In 39 appearances and an NCAA-high 2,355:22 minutes between the pipes, Bitzer has compiled a record of 22-14-3. He made 912 saves (11th) on 979 shots faced for a .932 (4th) save percentage and owns the nation’s best goals against average with a BSU singe-season record 1.71. Bitzer also has an NCAA-best six shutouts. This season, the All-WCHA First Team selection backstopped a BSU defense that ranks second in goals allowed per game (1.93) and a penalty-kill unit that has been among the top three in the country all season (.880). He is the first BSU goaltender to record at least 22 wins since Steve O’Shea in 1986-87, owns BSU career shutouts record (16), matched his own BSU single-season record with six in 2016-17, and sits atop BSU’s career goaltending lists with a .925 save percentage and a 1.88 goals against average. He is also a four-time defensive player of the week recipient (Oct. 17 and 31, Nov. 14 and Dec. 21) in 2016-17.

In addition, Bitzer sits atop BSU’s all-time goaltending minutes played list with 6,031:19 minutes played, is fifth on BSU’s all-time saves list (2,346) and is ninth on the Beaver Hockey victories list (49).

Bitzer is the first BSU player to be named WCHA Player of the Year, is the first Beaver to earn a league’s outstanding player award since Matt Read was selected as College Hockey America Player of the Year to cap the 2009-10.

Now in his 16th season at the helm of the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, Tom Serratore earned his first WCHA Coach of the Year citation, while it marks the sixth time he has earned a coach of the year nod, five times winning the vote of his colleagues as a member of College Hockey America.

Serratore led the Beavers to their first 20-win season since 2009-10 as BSU went 22-16-3 in 2016-17 en route to leading the WCHA from wire to wire, earning the league’s regular season title and possession of the coveted MacNaughton Cup. While 2016-17 marked the Beavers’ first WCHA title, it stood as the 22nd in the storied history of Beaver Hockey and its first since 2009-10.

A 1987 graduate of Bemidji State, Serratore is 266-256-70 as head coach of the Beavers.

In addition to Bitzer and Serratore, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Daniel Brickley was selected as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and Marc Michaelis earned the association’s Rookie of the Year nod.

Voting for WCHA awards and all-league teams is done by member team head coaches.

For more information on the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers @BSUBeaversmhky), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.

Nestled in Northern Minnesota’s wooded region and located on the shore of Lake Bemidji, Bemidji State University sponsors 15 varsity athletic programs with NCAA Division I men’s and women’s hockey membership in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, while its 13 NCAA Division II programs hold membership in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

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