Bemidji State has signed five hockey players to national letters of intent during the week-long early signing period which began Wednesday. They are:
* Michael Bitzer of Moorhead, Minn.
* Brendan Harms of Steinbach, Manitoba
* Bob Kinne of St. Paul
* Phillip Marinaccio of Vaughan, Ontario
* Charlie O’Connor of Elk Village, Ill.
“This year’s early signing class is forward-heavy, but we think we are bringing in a very good mixture of skill, speed and competitiveness,” said Ted Belisle, the Beavers assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, according to a BSU news release. “These players have all proven they can put up good numbers in junior hockey, but if there is one thing that stands out about this class, it is that these players have good hockey sense.”
Their short bios:
Goalie Michael Bitzer, 5-10, 201, age 19. ... In first season with Lincoln Stars of USHL, 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals against average and a .956 save percentage. Bitzer has stopped at least 28 shots in every game. ... He was 22-8-0 and a 2.30 goals against average at Moorhead H.S. last season and led the Spuds to Class 2A state tournament. ... Won Frank Brimsek Award, given to state's best senior goalie.
Said Belisle, “We really like Bitzer’s history and we like the fact that he’s adjusted well into junior hockey. He is athletic and tracks the puck very well. We are very happy to have him be a part of our program.”
Forward Brendan Harms, 5-11, 169, age 18. ... First-year forward with the USHL’s Fargo Force. Leads the team with 23 points (5g-18a) in 15 games. ... Second in USHL in scoring. Harms has scored in 11 of the Forces’ 15 games, which includes three different three-point efforts. ... Spent two previous seasons with the Portage Terriers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL). In 101 games for the Terriers, Harms hadd 50 goals and 70 assists for 120 points.
Said Belisle, “Brendan is a very exciting prospect for us. For a young player, he is already a veteran in junior hockey, this being his third year. One thing with Brendan Harms, is that he always puts up numbers. He has played on some very successful teams in juniors. He has played in two Royal Bank Cups in Canada and so far this season in the USHL, he’s had a tremendous amount of success due to his feel for the game.”
Forward Bob Kinne, 5-11, 175, age 20. ... In his first year with Bismarck Bobcats of the North American Hockey League. Has seven points (3g-4a) after 18 games and is fifth on the team in scoring. ... Kinne, the younger brother of current BSU captain Ben Kinne, played for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL last season. In 39 games, he had six goals and two assists for eight points. ... Had 95 points (42g-53a) in 54 games at Cretin-Derham Hal in high school careerl. As a senior in 2010-11, he led the Raiders to a 14-9-4 record and a trip to the section playoffs with a team-leading 53 points (22g-31a).
Belisle said, “We’re excited about Bob’s talent set and his speed. Because of the pace he plays at, we think he is going to be a very effective player for us.”
Forward Phillip Marinaccio, 5-10, 182, age 19. ... Four-year veteran of junior hockey. In second season with USHL’s Chicago Steel. In 12 games played, Marinaccio has nine points (6g-3a), which includes two game-winning goals. ...In two seasons with Chicago, he has 47 points (16g-31a). ... Also played for the Villanova Knights (2010-11) and the Vaughan Vipers (2009-10) of the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Said Belisle, “Phil Marinaccio is an offensive player with a very good ability to read and make plays. His feel for the game is tremendous. He has an exciting factor to him when he has the puck. At any moment, he can make a play to create offense from anywhere on the ice.”
Forward Charlie O’Connor, 6-0, 177, age 19. ... In his second season with Chicago Steel, teammate of Marinaccio, O’Connor has two points (1g-1a) in six games this season. ... Last season had 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points. ... Also played three seasons with Lake Forest Academy of the Midwest Prep Hockey League, where he recorded 96 points (39g-57a) in 38 games.
Said Belisle, “He’s got a tremendous amount of depth to his game as a forward. He can chip in offensively, he’s a very good fore-checker and he’s played in all situations in junior hockey. He’s just one of those glue guys that you love to have on the roster.”