Mankato's Hastings, Bemidji's Bitzer pick up WCHA awards


After leading Minnesota State to the first McNaughton Cup in program history, Mavericks hockey coach Mike Hastings was named the WCHA Coach of the Year. In his third season at MSU, the Crookston native has led the Mavericks to a 25-7-3 overall record and 21-4-3 mark in league play.

According to MSU, in three seasons with the school Hastings has guided the Mavericks to a 75-37-7 career mark. It's the second time he has won the conference coach of the year award.

Considering the Mavericks head into the postseason as the No. 2 team in the country and were ranked No. 1 at four different times during the season, some feel Hastings is a frontrunner to win the national coach of the year award.

 Bemidji freshman goalie Bitzer named WCHA rookie of the year

Bemidji State University freshman goaltender Michael Bitzer was named the WCHA Rookie of the Year.

According to the school, Bitzer is the first Bemidji State goaltender to reach 14 wins in a single season since Dan Bakala accomplished it in 2010-11.

Bitzer, a Moorhead native, was the WCHA leader with a .936 save percentage. He also finished second in conference play with a 1.61 goals-against average.

The numbers are only more impressive for Bitzer since he took over as Bemidji's primary goaltender on Dec. 12. He is 12-4-3 since then and leads the country with a .948 save percentage and a 1.31 goals against average.

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