EDINA, Minn. – Bemidji State University goaltender Michael Bitzer has been selected as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Goaltender of the Week for his role in Beavers’ series sweep at Ferris State University, Jan. 19-20.
Bitzer added another chapter to his storied career, moving into sole possession of second place in NCAA Division I men’s hockey history with his 21st career shutout. The senior from Moorhead, Minn. reached the milestone Friday night in his 124th collegiate game, surpassing Vermont’s Joe Fallon (2005-08) and moving within five shutouts of all-time men’s leader Ryan Miller (1999-2002). Bitzer made 23 stops in a 2-0 Bemidji State victory at Ferris State, part of a weekend in which he backstopped the Beavers to a sweep. He finished the series with 42 saves in 120 minutes, while leading the WCHA in wins (13), shutouts (5), save percentage (.977) and goals-against average (0.50). He also anchored a BSU penalty-kill unit that was a perfect seven-for-seven on the weekend. Now at 62-47-17 in a BSU sweater, Bitzer surpassed Mark Liska (1981-85) for fourth on the Beavers’ all-time wins list, and equaled Jim Scanlan (1978-82) and Chuck Scanlon (1971-75), who are tied for second with 62 career victories.
This marks the fifth WCHA award of the season for Bitzer, who was also the Goaltender of the Week selection Oct. 16, Oct. 30, Dec. 18 and Jan. 8. The ninth selection of 2017-18 for the Beavers, Bitzer follows Charlie Combs, the Nov. 27 Rookie of the Week, Gerry Fitzgerald, who was picked for the league’s Offensive Player of the Week Nov. 6, the Dec. 18 WCHA Offensive Player of the Week, Jay Dickman and Kyle Bauman, the league’s Jan. 8 Offensive Player of the Week.
In addition to Bitzer, Minnesota State University senior Zeb Knutson won the league’s Offensive Player of the Week award, Northern Michigan University sophomore Philip Beaulieu was selected as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week and Bowling Green State University freshman Brandon Kruse was tabbed as the league’s Freshman of the Week.
Bemidji State, now 13-7-6 overall and 10-4-4-2 in WCHA play, continues its four-game road swing Jan. 26-27 with a trip to Huntsville, Ala. to face the Chargers of the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The opening face off is set for 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday from the Von Braun Center.
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.