Bemidji State’s Bauman and Bitzer earn WCHA honors

Bemidji State’s Bauman and Bitzer earn WCHA honors
Monday, January 8, 2018
Bemidji State’s Bauman and Bitzer earn WCHA honors

EDINA, Minn. – Bemidji State University forward Kyle Bauman and goaltender Michael Bitzer have been selected as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player and Goaltender of the Week, respectively, for their roles in Beavers’ series sweep over Lake Superior State University, Jan. 5-6.

Bauman led Bemidji State to a WCHA sweep at Lake Superior State, scoring twice and assisting on two other goals for a four-point weekend. After an assist on the game-winning goal in a 3-0 shutout Friday, the senior scored twice, including the game-winner, and added a helper in a 6-3, comeback win Saturday. Both of Bauman’s goals Saturday were shorthanded and came in the Beavers’ five-goal second period. In fact, he tied the all-time WCHA record for most shorthanded goals in a period, becoming the 14th player to accomplish the feat (and first since Derek Stepan on March 7, 2009). The Apopka, Fla. native finished the weekend with a plus-3 rating, tied for tops in the WCHA.

Bitzer backstopped BSU to the sweep, in the process moved into a tie for second in NCAA men’s hockey history with his 20th career shutout – an ongoing BSU and WCHA record. The senior from Moorehead, Minn. turned aside all 21 shots he faced Friday night in a 3-0 win, drawing even with Vermont’s Joe Fallon (2005-08), six back of Michigan State legend, National Hockey League All-Star and 2010 Team USA Olympic hero Ryan Miller (26 between 1999-2002). Despite surrendering three goals Saturday, Bitzer earned another win as the Beavers ran their winning streak to six-straight – the program’s longest since a six-gamer during its 2008-09 NCAA Frozen Four season. Among WCHA goaltenders with two starts last weekend, Bitzer was tops with a 1.50 goals-against average and second with a .923 save percentage.

This marks first WCHA weekly award of 2017-18 for Bauman and the fourth of the season for Bitzer, who was also the Oct. 16, Oct. 30 and Dec. 18 Goaltender of the Week selection, and the 15th of his collegiate career. The seventh and eight selections of 2017-18 for the Beavers, they follow Charlie Combs, the Nov. 27 Rookie of the Week, Jay Dickman, the Dec. 18 Offensive Player of the Week and Gerry Fitzgerald, who was picked for the league’s Offensive Player of the Week Nov. 6.

In addition to BSU duo, Minnesota State University, Mankato junior Daniel Brickley won the league’s Defensive Player of the Week award and Bowling Green State University freshman Connor Ford was tabbed as the league’s Rookie of the Week.

The Beavers, now 11-6-5 overall and 8-4-4-2 in WCHA play, are in the midst of a nine-game unbeaten streak and have won their last six games. BSU now shifts its focus away from WCHA play as it goes head-to-head with the No. 7/8 University of North Dakota in a non-conference, home-and-home match up, Jan. 12-13. The Beavers host the series opener at 7:07 p.m. Friday before traveling two hours west to Grand Forks, N.D. for Saturday’s series finale. The opening face off is set for 7:07 p.m. at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

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.