BEMIDJI, Minn. – Two Bemidji State University men’s hockey players have been named to the College Sports Information Directors of America University Division At-Large Academic All-America® Second Team. Both Michael Bitzer and Brendan Harms earned recognition for their efforts on the ice and in the classroom.
The 2016-17 At-Large team is made up of student-athletes who participate in NCAA Division I golf, lacrosse, ice hockey, rifle, skiing, swimming, tennis, volleyball (men), water polo and wrestling. Bitzer and Harms were the only men’s hockey players named among the First or Second Teams.
In 39 appearances and an NCAA-high 2,355.22 minutes between the pipes in 2016-17, Bitzer, a Moorhead, Minn., native, compiled a record of 22-14-3. He made 912 saves on 979 shots faced for a .932 save percentage and the nation’s best goals against average (1.71) to go with an NCAA-best six shutouts. The Academic All-WCHA pick and WCHA Scholar-Athlete honoree backstopped a BSU defense that ranked second in the country with a goals allowed per game mark of 1.93 and a penalty-kill unit that was among the top two in the country all season (.880). At the conclusion of the season, Bitzer was named to the All-WCHA First Team en route to being voted as the league’s Player of the Year and earning a spot on the CCM All-America West First Team. In addition, he was a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and was one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award as the nation’s top goaltender.
Harms, a native of Steinbach, Manitoba, skated in 35 games for the Beavers in 2016-17 and finished fourth on the team with 21 points on eight goals and 13 assists. As a senior he recorded a career-high six power-play goals and a pair of game-winners. The three-time recipient of the WCHA’s Scholar-Athlete award and a three-time All-WCHA selection capped his collegiate career by being named as the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award winner for men’s hockey. The award, annually given by a vote of coaches, national hockey media and fans, recognizes the most outstanding senior student-athlete for excellence in the classroom, community, character and competition.
Bitzer is a junior exercise science major and carries a 3.81 cumulative GPA, while Harms recently graduated from BSU as a business administration major and was one of five members of the Second Team with a perfect 4.00 GPA.
The Beavers finished the 2016-17 campaign with an overall record of 22-16-3 to mark the first time BSU has posted at least 22 wins since the 2009-10 season. Bemidji State also recorded a 20-6-2-2 record in WCHA play to set a program record for wins as a member of the league (since 2010-11), won its 22nd conference title and its first as a member of the WCHA, the MacNaughton Cup and treated its dedicated fans to a Sanford Center-record 13 home wins.
BSU Athletics now has four student-athletes named to the All-America team in 2016-17, which includes Sarah Stram, of the BSU soccer team, and Gena Adams, a member of the Beaver Football program, who each garnered All-America First Team honors at the conclusion of the 2016 fall sports season, and boasts 26 academic All-America selections dating back to 1977. Bitzer and Harms stand as two of only four members of the BSU men’s hockey program ever to earn Academic All-America honors. They follow 2005 First Team selection Peter Jonsson and Jim Karner, a First Team selection in 1994.
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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).