Bemidji's Bitzer is WCHA POTY; Serratore Top Coach
CHN Staff Report
EDINA, Minn. Bemidji State was knocked out in the WCHA semifinals, but after going wire to wire in the regular season, took home a few individual awards.
WCHA Player of the Year: Michael Bitzer, Jr., G, Bemidji State (Moorhead, Minn.)
Bitzer backstopped Bemidji State to the program’s first MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champion, solidifying his place as one of the nation’s top goaltenders. The Moorhead, Minn. native set the all-time WCHA record with a 1.40 goals-against average in 27 league games.
Bitzer finished with a 22-14-3 record, becoming the first BSU goalie with 22 wins in a season since Steve O’Shea (22-12-1) in 1986-87. He was in the net for every Beaver victory in 2016-17, as the team won its most league games of its seven WCHA campaigns and posted its most overall triumphs since 2009-10.
WCHA Defensive Player of the Year: Daniel Brickley, So., D, Minnesota State (Sandy, Utah)
Brickley was the top two-way player in the WCHA, pacing league defensemen with 19 assists, 26 points and 14 power-play points in just 22 league contests, while ranking second with 55 blocked shots. The first-team All-WCHA performer nearly became the first blue-liner in 20 years to lead the league in scoring, falling just four points shy – despite missing six games due to injury.
WCHA Rookie of the Year: Marc Michaelis, Fr., F, Minnesota State (Mannheim, Germany)
Michaelis put together one of the most impressive rookie campaigns in Minnesota State history, leading the team with 36 points – the second-most by a Maverick freshman in the program’s Division I history. A first-team All-WCHA and WCHA All-Rookie Team selection, he scored 14 goals and collected 22 assists in 39 games, amassing what is currently the fourth-most points by a NCAA freshman.
WCHA Coach of the Year: Tom Serratore, Bemidji State
Serratore guided Bemidji State to its first MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions, capping the Beavers’ best campaign in its seven years in the league. He led BSU to a 20-6-2-2 mark and 64 points in WCHA play, outdistancing second-place Michigan Tech by 10 points. Bemidji State swept its opening weekend of WCHA play and was undefeated in its first 13 league contests (12-0-1); meaning that, aside from a bye week on the opening weekend of league games (Oct. 1-2), the Beavers held at least a share of first place after every WCHA weekend in which it competed.
Serratore wrapped up his 16th season with his sixth Coach of the Year Award, including five while a member of College Hockey America.