BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Feb. 16, 2018 – Two student-athletes from the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) have been named among the 10 finalists for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey: Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer and Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain.
Fans can vote for their favorite candidates daily by visiting the Senior CLASS Award website. Fan voting runs through March 26 and is one-third of the criteria that determines the winner.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their athletic platforms to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must be classified as NCAA Division I seniors and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
Bitzer, a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a 2016-17 CoSIDA Academic All-American, is WCHA's all-time leader with 21 career shutouts – the second most in NCAA Division I men's hockey history. The 2016-17 WCHA Player of the Year and an AHCA/CCM Hockey First-Team All-American, Bitzer owns a sparkling 1.95 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in 133 career games with the Beavers (64-51-18). A regular on the BSU Dean's List and the Athletics Director's 3.0 Club, he carries a 3.82 cumulative GPA in exercise science, with an emphasis in medical fitness. The Moorhead, Minn. native is also active in the Bemidji community, volunteering at the Bemidji Area Food Shelf as a gardener, serving meals at local schools and working with youth hockey players (boys and girls). His full award profile can be viewed here.
Bowling Green's captain this season, McLain is a WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree and a 2016-17 AHCA All-America Scholar. The Falcons' active leading scorer and a returning First Team All-WCHA performer, he has 49 goals and 45 assists for 94 points in 153 collegiate contests. A native of Baxter, Minn., he owns a cumulative 3.50 GPA as a mild-to-moderate intervention specialist major. Engaged with his fellow student-athletes and the local community, he is a Student Achievement Assessment Committee (SAAC) representative, while he volunteers extensively with special education students at Wood Lane School in Bowling Green. His full award profile can be viewed here.
The finalists were chosen by national media from the list of candidates announced in November. Fan votes will be combined with those of the media and Division I head coaches to determine the winners. The Senior CLASS Award recipients will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Men's Frozen Four.