OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – Bemidji State University forward Michael Bitzer is one of 20 NCAA Division I student-athletes named as a candidate for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate hockey.
Bitzer opened the first month of 2017-18 with a 3-1-2 record and 144 saves in six starts. The 2016-17 AHCA First-Team All-American and WCHA Player of the Year in 2016-17, led the league during the season’s opening month with a .941 save percentage and a 1.56 goals-against average. The senior from Moorhead, Minn. also tied for the national lead with two shutouts.
Just over three seasons into his collegiate career, Bitzer has already cemented his place among BSU’s greatest goaltenders. He is the first BSU goalie to record at least 22 wins since Steve O’Shea in 1986-87, owns the BSU career shutouts record (18), and sits atop BSU’s career goaltending lists with a .926 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average. In addition, he has more minutes in goal than any goaltender in BSU history (6,376:47). Bitzer is also fourth on BSU’s all-time saves list (2,490) and is tied for eighth on the Beaver Hockey victories list (52).
Bitzer is an exercise science major with a medical fitness emphasis and is on track to graduate in the spring of 2018.
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School ®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2017 NCAA Men’s Frozen Final Four® in April.
Here is a complete list of candidates for the 20161-17 Senior Class Award for men’s hockey: Dylan Abood, Air Force; Louie Belpedio, Miami; Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State; Tim Davison, Wisconsin; Andrew Dorantes, Ferris State; Jake Evans, Notre Dame; Brady Ferguson, Robert Morris, Carson Gatt, Michigan State; Karson Kuhlman, Minnesota Duluth; Sam Lafferty, Brown; Alfred Larsson, Merrimack; Merrick Madsen, Harvard; Mitch McLain, Bowling Green; Brady Norrish, RIT; Judd Peterson, St. Cloud State; Tyler Phan, Army; Sam Plazza, Michigan; Austin Poganski, North Dakota; Ryan Schmeilzer, Canisius; Jared Wilson, RPI.
Last season Brendan Harms became the first Bemidji State student-athlete to win the coveted award when he was announced as the 2016-17 men’s hockey recipient during the 2017 Frozen Four.
Bemidji State, 3-1-2; 1-0-1-1 WCHA) has its sights set on Alaska as the Beavers travel to Fairbanks for a WCHA match up with the University of Alaska, Nov. 3-4. Each game is set for a 10:07 p.m. (CST) opening face off.
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).