Looks like area hockey fans could see Moorhead goaltender Michael Bitzer wearing black and blue after all.
It’ll just be the black and blue of the Lincoln Stars. Bitzer was taken by the Stars in the second round of the USHL Entry Draft this afternoon.
The Stars’ drafting Bitzer means the Moorhead star said he will spend next season with the Stars. Bitzer signed a tender with the now-Brookings, S.D. team in the NAHL and played part of the season with the team.
But by getting drafted by Lincoln, it very well means Bitzer could come in and start in the USHL, something not often guaranteed for first-year goaltenders.
Lincoln has been one of the USHL’s perennial powers and finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season. The Stars beat the Force in a best-of-five series en route to making the conference finals, where they lost to Waterloo.
Bitzer’s future has received quite a bit of interest after he had one of the more stellar seasons of any high school player in the United States.
The 5-10 Bitzer went 22-8 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .933 save percentage, seven shutouts and 750 saves.
He was practically flawless in Moorhead’s state tournament run, leading the team to an upset over title-favorite Eagan in a 4-0 win where he stopped more than 30 shots.
Bitzer allowed Moorhead to nearly hang on in the next round before losing to Hill-Murray in overtime, en route to finishing fourth the following day.
The tournament was a coming-out party for Bitzer who in 24 hours won a first-team all tournament selection nod, the Class 2A Herb Brooks Award, the Frank Brimsek Award for Minnesota’s best senior goaltender and was named an Associated Press first-team selection.
Should he go the USHL route, he has a chance to emulate what has been some pretty lofty and successful company.
The Force drafted the 2010 Brimsek Award winner in Zane Gothberg (North Dakota), who this season set several franchise records and was named the USHL’s Co-Goaltender of the Year on Tuesday.
Omaha traded for the 2011 winner in Alex Lyon (Yale), who helped the Lancers finish second in the West during the regular season.