CHANHASSEN, Minn. – Bemidji State University junior Michael Bitzer is one of 20 collegiate goaltenders that has been placed on the 2016-17 Mike Richter Award watch list by Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.
The award, which is in its fourth year, annually honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey.
The winner will be announced at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Chicago.
Criteria for the Mike Richter Award include: Candidates must display outstanding skills on the ice, good academic standing at an NCAA college or university, academic achievement and sportsmanship, compliance with all NCAA rules; be full-time students at an NCAA college or university; and completing in 50-percent or more of the season. Consideration will be given to the candidate’s activities in the community.
Bitzer is 2-0-0 in 2016-17 with a 1.00 goals against average and a .955 save percentage in 119.53 minutes between the pipes. He is coming off a 2015-16 season during which he shouldered the bulk of the Beavers’ goaltending duties. As a sophomore, he appeared in and started in 34 of 39 games, finishing with a record of 13-16-5, a 2.16 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. He posted six shutouts, including back-to-back blank sheets versus Arizona State, Jan. 15-16, earning NCAA Third Star of the Week honors. He was honored twice as WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, earned the coveted WCHA Scholar Athlete award and earned a spot on the WCHA All-Academic Team.
Bitzer opened his junior season firmly seated among BSU’s greatest goaltenders. He owns the program’s highest career save percentage (.922) and his 1.991 career GAA is also tops all-time for BSU goaltenders with at least 1,500 minutes played. In addition, his 10 shutouts rank second.
The 2016-17 campaign marks the second season, Bitzer has appeared on the list.
Members of Let’s Play Hockey, utilizing both past performance and future potential, choose goalies on the Mike Richter Award watch list. Freshmen are not included.
Finalists for the Mike Richter Award, and eventually, its winner, will be determined a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media.
Past winners of the award include: Thatcher Demko of Boston College (2016), North Dakota’s Zane McIntyre (2015) and Connor Hellebuyck of UMass-Lowell (2014).
The Beavers, now 2-0-0 overall and in WCHA play, heads east for its first road trip of the 2016-17 season Oct. 14-15, when to team travels to Marquette, Mich. for a league matchup with Northern Michigan University.
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).