WCHA coaches; media tab Bemidji State second in preseason polls

WCHA coaches; media tab Bemidji State second in preseason polls
Monday, September 25, 2017
WCHA coaches; media tab Bemidji State second in preseason polls

EDINA, Minn. – Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches, along with the league’s media, have picked the Bemidji State University men’s hockey team to finish second in the Mankato Free Press Western Collegiate Hockey Association Coaches’ and UAHHockey.com WCHA Media preseason polls.

BSU seniors Michael Bitzer and Gerry Fitzgerald were each recognized as members of the Preseason All-WCHA teams.

Bitzer, the reigning WCHA Player of the Year and an All-WCHA First Team selection to cap 2016-17, was selected as the goaltender for the coaches’ and media preseason first team. He compiled a record of 22-14-3 as a junior. He made 912 saves for a .932 save percentage (2nd) and the nation’s best goals against average (1.71) to go with a NCAA-best six shutouts. He 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 has been among the top three in the country all season. He was a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top 10 finalist as well as one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, annually given to the nation’s top goaltender. He capped the season being named First Team All-American West by the American Hockey Coaches Association.

A Preseason All-WCHA Second Team selection by the league’s voting media, Fitzgerald finished 2016-17 second on the team in scoring with 26 points (13g-13a). He led the team with 13 goals, which includes a team-best eight goals on the power play and four game-winning goals, while he established a career-high 13 assists. With 18 points (12g-6a) in league play, he tied for 22nd among all WCHA players in scoring, while his eight power-play goals led the league and his 13 points on the man advantage was good for second.

Minnesota State University, Mankato was picked to dethrone the reigning MacNaughton Cup champion, Bemidji State, and defending Broadmoor Trophy champions, Michigan Tech, in both polls. The Mavericks, who finished third in the 2016-17 league standings, collected nine of the 10 possible first-place votes from the league’s coaches and 12-of-14 first-place votes from media around the league.

The same four schools – Minnesota State (first), Bemidji State (second), Michigan Tech (third) and Bowling Green (fourth) – finished 1-4 in both the coaches’ and media polls. BSU picked up the remaining first-place vote in the coaches’ poll, while Michigan Tech and Bowling Green each grabbed a first-place vote in the media poll. Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Northern Michigan University and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks occupied the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth positions in both ledgers. The coaches slotted University of Alabama-Huntsville to finish ninth, while the University of Alaska Anchorage finished 10th in both polls.

There was a tie among the league coaches for WCHA Preseason Player of the Year, as two Minnesota State players, sophomore forward Marc Michaelis and junior defenseman Daniel Brickley–the media’s pick–each received four coach votes apiece. Michaelis, the reigning WCHA Rookie of the Year, was a first-team All-WCHA selection and the league’s top overall scorer last season with 36 points (14g-22a). Brickley was the league’s 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year, a first-team All-WCHA pick and the WCHA’s top-scoring defenseman with 31 points (8g-23a), while his 1.00 points-per-game ranked second among NCAA blue-liners a year ago. Bemidji State senior goaltender Michael Bitzer, the 2016-17 Player of the Year, and Beavers’ senior forward Gerry Fitzgerald split the other two coach votes.

Ferris State defender Cameron Clarke (media) and Minnesota State forward Parker Tuomie (coaches’) split the Preseason Player of the Year votes.

2017-18 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Rk             Team (1st place votes)          Points
1.        Minnesota State (8)                     90

  1. Bemidji State (1)                     81
  2. Michigan Tech                         70
  3. Bowling Green                         67
  4. Ferris State                               59
  5. Lake Superior State                    51
  6. Northern Michigan         40
  7. Alaska                                  35
  8. Alabama Huntsville                      29
  9. Alaska Anchorage                       18

Predicted order of finish. Based on a 9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale. Coaches could not vote for their own teams.

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Daniel Brickley, Jr. D, Minnesota State (4) and Marc Michaelis, So., F, Minnesota State (4)

Others receiving votes: Michael Bitzer, Sr., G, Bemidji State (1); Gerry Fitzgerald, Sr., F, Bemidji State (1).

Preseason WCHA Rookie of the Year
Jake Jaremko, F, Minnesota State (4)

Others receiving votes: CBrendan Harris, F, Bemidji State (2); Connor Mackey, D, Minnesota State (2); Reggie Lutz, F, Minnesota State (1); Joseph Nardi, F, Northern Michigan.

Preseason All-WCHA Team
Forwards
Marc Michaelis, So., Minnesota State; C.J. Suess, Sr., Minnesota State; Mitch McLain, Sr., Bowling Green

Defensemen
Daniel Brickley, Jr., Minnesota State; Mark Auk, Sr., Michigan Tech

Goaltender
Michael Bitzer, Sr., Bemidji State

Others receiving votes: Forwards – Gerry Fitzgerald, Sr., Bemidji State; J.T. Henke, Sr., Lake Superior State; Corey Mackin, Jr., Ferris State; Tyler Spezia, Sr., Bowling Green. Defensemen – Zach Frye, Sr., D, Alaska; Kurt Gosselin, Jr., Alabama Huntsville; Mitch Reinke, So., Michigan Tech; Ian Scheid, So., Minnesota State. Goaltender – Olivier Mantha, Sr., Alaska Anchorage.

2017-18 Bemidji Pioneer WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Media Poll

 

Rk             Team (1st place votes)          Points
1.        Minnesota State (12)                  137

  1. Bemidji State                            115
  2. Michigan Tech (1)                   110
  3. Bowling Green (1)                   108
  4. Ferris State                               81
  5. Lake Superior State                    62
  6. Northern Michigan         59
  7. Alaska                                  43
  8. Alabama Huntsville                      36
  9. Alaska Anchorage                       19

Predicted order of finish. Based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 scale.

Preseason WCHA Player of the Year
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State

Others receiving votes: Marc Michaelis, So., F, Minnesota State; Mitch McLain, Sr., F, Bowling Green; Michael Bitzer, Sr., G, Bemidji State

Preseason All-WCHA Team

Forwards:

Mitch McLain, Sr., Bowling Green; Marc Michaelis, So., Minnesota State; Corey Mackin, Jr., Ferris State

Defensemen:

Daniel Brickley, Jr., Minnesota State; Kurt Gosselin, Jr., Alabama Huntsville

Goaltender:

Michael Bitzer, Sr., Bemidji State

Preseason All-WCHA Second Team

Forwards:

Gerry Fitzgerald, Sr., Bemidji State; C.J. Suess, Sr., Minnesota State; Joel L’Esperance, Sr., Michigan Tech

Defensemen:

Mitch Reinke, So., Michigan Tech; Mark Auk, Sr., Michigan Tech

Goaltender:

Atte Tolvanen, Jr., Northern Michigan

 

Others receiving votes (listed alphabetically by position): Forwards – Kyle Bauman, Sr., Bemidji State; Gavin Gould, So., Michigan Tech; J.T. Henke, Sr., Lake Superior State; Max Humitz, So., Lake Superior State; Brad McClure, Sr., Minnesota State; Tyler Spezia, Sr., Bowling Green. Defensemen – Clint Lewis, Sr., Minnesota State; Alec Rauhauser, So., Bowling Green; Joe Rutkowski, So., Ferris State; Collin Saccoman, So., Lake Superior State; Ian Scheid, So., Minnesota State; David Trinkberger, So., Alaska Anchorage; Zach Whitecloud, So., Bemidji State; Justin Woods, Sr., Alaska. Goaltenders – Justin Kapelmaster, So., Ferris State; Olivier Mantha, Sr., Alaska Anchorage; Jason Pawloski, Jr., Minnesota State.

Bemidji State, the consensus preseason pick to earn sixth place in the upcoming WCHA regular season, finished 2015-16 with a 17-16-6 overall record and posted an 11-12-5 mark in WCHA play to finish sixth in the league. The Beavers closed the 2015-16 season by going 11-5-3 over its final 19 regular-season games, which included wins over No. 14 Michigan Tech and No. 16 Minnesota State down the stretch. BSU drew a first round WCHA Playoff series at Bowling Green, and despite winning the first game of the series, was eliminated from the three-game series, dropping the final two games.

BSU opens its 2016-17 home slate Oct. 7 and 8 when it hosts the Falcons in a two-game series to begin the WCHA season. Both games are set to get underway at 7:07 p.m. at Sanford Center.

For more information on the Bemidji State men’s hockey program, follow the Beavers on Twitter (@BSUBeavers or @BSUMHockey), like them on Facebook (facebook.com/BSUBeavers) or sign up for the TXTUpdates from BSUBeavers.com text-messaging system through the "Multimedia" pull down menu on the main page of BSUBeavers.com.

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).

About the Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll
The 2017-18 Mankato Free Press WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Coaches’ Poll was conducted by Shane Frederick, staff writer, The Free Press Media. (www.mankatofreepress.com; www.mankatofreepresshockey.blogspot.com; Twitter/@puckato)

About the UAHHockey.com WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Media Poll
The 2017-18 UAHHockey.com WCHA Men’s Hockey Preseason Media Poll was conducted by Geof Morris, editor. (www.uahhockey.com; Twitter / @weloveuahhockey)

(Portions of this release courtesy the WCHA)

--bsu-

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