Bitzer Earns Top Goalie Honor

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Bitzer earns top goalie honor

What was expected was confirmed Sunday when Moorhead goaltender Michael Bitzer won the Frank Brimsek Award for Minnesota’s best senior goaltender.

Bitzer, 18, was the wire-to-wire front runner for the award after helping the Spuds reach the Minnesota state hockey tournament for the third time in the four years he was at the school.

He also becomes the first Moorhead goaltender to win the award and second player in program history to win one of Minnesota’s two major individual hockey awards – the Brimsek and Mr. Hockey. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman and Moorhead alum Brian Lee won Mr. Hockey in 2005.

Bitzer beat out Maple Grove goaltender Kyle Koop for the award.

Bitzer had one of the more impressive individual seasons in Moorhead’s illustrious history, going 22-8 with a 1.80 goals against average, .933 save percentage, seven shutouts and 750 saves.

Though voters selected Bitzer prior to the state tournament, he certainly cemented his stake to the award on Minnesota’s largest stage. Bitzer backstopped Moorhead to a first-round upset over No. 3 seed Eagan.

Bitzer helped Moorhead advance to the second round, where it was defeated by eventual state runner-up, Hill-Murray, in overtime.

Moorhead lost Saturday’s third-place game to Lakeville South 2-1.

Bitzer’s state tournament performance saw him go 1-2 with a 1.00 GAA and a shutout, and it earned him a first-team selection on the all-tournament team. He was also awarded the Herb Brooks Award for Class 2A, which goes to the player who best exemplified Brooks and his beliefs.

Bitzer’s post-Moorhead plans could very well change following what he did at the state tournament.

He and Spuds teammate, Terry Leabo, signed tenders to play with Alexandria in the North American Hockey League. Yet it appears Bitzer could be drafted by a team in the USHL.

“It just feels good to know I have somewhere to play next year,” Bitzer said. “I don’t have to worry about finding a team. We’ll see what happens after the (USHL Draft) and we’ll go from there.”

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