BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Feb. 19, 2018 – Two top scorers from the nation's hottest team, along with a pair of standout seniors, highlight the Players of the Week in the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The honorees for games of Feb. 15-17, 2018 are: Minnesota State senior Brad McClure (Offensive), Michigan Tech senior Mark Auk (Defensive), Bemidji State senior Michael Bitzer (Goaltender) and Minnesota State freshman forward Reggie Lutz (Rookie).
Brad McClure, Sr.
Minnesota State (Stratford, Ontario)
McClure helped power the nation's top-ranked offense, tying for the WCHA lead with three goals and four points as now-No. 4/5 Minnesota State swept Ferris State and moved five points ahead in the MacNaughton Cup race. The senior from Stratford, Ontario had a goal and an assist in Friday's 7-1 victory, before a two-goal effort in the series finale. McClure scored the game's first goal and then, at 17:22 of the third period, the Mavericks' co-captain snapped a 2-2 tie with the game-winner. He also led the league with 14 shots on goal, helping Minnesota State extend its NCAA-best winning streak to nine-straight games. This is McClure's first WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 season and his second career honor (including a Rookie of the Week accolade).
Honorable Mention: Lukas Craggs, So., Bowling Green (tallied three points as the now-No. 15 Falcons earned a road sweep at Alaska Anchorage, scoring the game-winning goal in Thursday night's victory).
Mark Auk, Sr.
Michigan Tech (St. Clair Shores, Mich.)
Auk led WCHA defensemen with three points, one goal (tied), two assists (tied), three power-play points, 10 shots on goal and seven blocked shots. The senior from St. Clair Shores, Mich. had an assist in Friday's game, before logging a two-point effort to help the Huskies to a 5-3 win Saturday and nonconference split with Arizona State. With Tech trailing 1-0 to start the second period, Auk buried a power-play goal to tie the contest, then assisted on another man-advantage goal to give the host Huskies a 2-1 lead. This is Auk's second career WCHA weekly award, both coming this season (also on Oct. 9).
Michael Bitzer, Sr.
Bemidji State (Moorhead, Minn.)
Bitzer assured he and his fellow Bemidji State seniors would have more games at the Sanford Center, backstopping the Beavers to a five-point league series that clinched home ice in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 WCHA Playoffs. The senior from Moorhead, Minn. played all 125 minutes in net against visiting Alaska, stopping 43-of-46 shots faced for a .935 save percentage and a 1.44 goals-against average. Bitzer made 19 saves in Thursday's 2-2 tie, then stood tall in net as BSU scored in the 3-on-3 overtime for the extra league point. Friday, he pitched a shutout for 58:38, finishing with 24 saves in a 2-1 victory. In addition, he led a BSU penalty-kill unit that held the Nanooks scoreless on nine opportunities. This is Bitzer's fifth WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 season and his 16th career honor, including a pair of Rookie accolades and nine Defensive awards.
Honorable Mention: Justin Kapelmaster, So., Ferris State (made 43 saves Saturday night at now-No. 4/5 Minnesota State, helping the visiting Bulldogs remain tied until less than three minutes were remaining in the third period).
Reggie Lutz, Fr., F
Minnesota State (Elk River, Minn.)
Lutz tied for the WCHA lead with three assists and four points, helping now-No. 4/5 Minnesota State move into first place – and within two points of clinching the MacNaughton Cup – with a league sweep of Ferris State. The freshman from Elk River, Minn. had a career-high three points on a goal and two assists in Friday's 7-1 win, then helped set up Brad McClure's game-winning goal in Saturday's 4-2 triumph. Lutz' trio of helpers tied for the NCAA rookie lead last week, while his four points tied for third (trailing only a pair of freshmen that played in three games). This is Lutz' first WCHA weekly award of his freshman season.
Honorable Mention: Charlie Combs, Fr., F, Bemidji State (had a team-high three points, on two goals and an assist, as the Beavers clinched quarterfinal-round home ice with five points against Alaska); Lucas Finner, Fr., F, Ferris State (led the Bulldogs with two points, tallying a goal and an assist at now-No. 4/5 Minnesota State); Brandon Kruse, Fr., F, Bowling Green (tied for the WCHA overall lead and the NCAA rookie lead with three assists, including a helper on Friday's game-winning goal, as the now-No. 15 Falcons picked up a road sweep at Alaska Anchorage).