Minnesota State men's hockey coach Mike Hastings is the WCHA Coach of the Year after leading the program to its first WCHA regular-season championship and a 25-7-3 record, the conference announced on Thursday.

The Mavericks won the MacNaughton Cup and enter this weekend’s WCHA playoffs against Lake Super State as the top seed and ranked No. 2 in the USCHO poll. Earlier in the season, they climbed to No. 1 in the polls for the first time in program history.

Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer earned WCHA Rookie of the Year honors. He led the conference with a .936 save percentage and ranked second with a 1.61 goals against average. Since Dec. 12, he leads the country with a .948 save percentage and 1.31 goals against, while earning a 12-4-3 record.

Bitzer, a Moorhead, Minn., native, also led the unranked Beavers’ championship run at the North Star College Cup in late-January, giving up just one goal in two games against then-No. 7 Minnesota Duluth and No. 1 Minnesota State. He was named the tournament MVP.  

Minnesota State junior goaltender Stephon Williams (1.55 goals against average in conference play) was the Goaltending Champion and Michigan Tech’s senior forward Tanner Kero (13 goals, 21 assists WCHA) was named the WCHA Player of the Year.

The Mavericks picked up six conference honors with forward Matt Leitner and defenseman Zach Palmquist landing on the First Team. Bemidji State earned three All-WCHA mentions. 

2014-15 WCHA Individual Awards

Player of the Year – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (Hancock, Mich.)
Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (Hancock, Mich.)
Defensive Player of the Year – Colton Parayko, Jr., D, Alaska (St. Albert, Alberta)
Rookie of the Year – Michael Bitzer, Fr., G, Bemidji State (Moorhead, Minn.)
Scoring Champion – Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (Hancock, Mich.)
Goaltending Champion – Stephon Williams, Jr., G, Minnesota State (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Coach of the Year – Mike Hastings, Minnesota State

First Team

Tanner Kero (Sr. / Hancock, Mich.)                           Forward                        Michigan Tech
Matt Leitner (Sr. / Los Alamitos, Calif.)                      Forward                        Minnesota State
Tyler Morley (Jr. / Burnaby, British Columbia)             Forward                        University of Alaska
Colton Parayko (Jr. / St. Albert, Alberta)                    Defenseman                 University of Alaska
Zach Palmquist (Sr. / South St. Paul, Minn.)              Defenseman                 Minnesota State
Jamie Phillips (Jr. / Caledonia, Ontario)                     Goaltender                    Michigan Tech 

Second Team

Bryce Gervais (Jr. / Battleford, Saskatchewan)          Forward                         Minnesota State
Alex Petan (Jr. / Delta, British Columbia)                   Forward                         Michigan Tech
Malcolm Gould (Jr. / North Vancouver, British Columbia)     Forward                 Michigan Tech
Matt Prapavessis (Sr. / Oakville, Ontario)                          Defenseman           Bemidji State
Casey Nelson (Soph. / Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.)                 Defenseman          Minnesota State
Stephon Williams (Jr. / Fairbanks, Alaska)                         Goaltender             Minnesota State 

Third Team

Blake Pietila (Sr. / Brighton, Mich.)                                 Forward                    Michigan Tech
Marcus Basara (Soph. / Port Moody, British Columbia)    Forward                     University of Alaska
Brendan Harms (Soph. / Steinbach, Manitoba)                 Forward                    Bemidji State
Blake Tatchell (Jr. / North Battleford, Saskatchewan)       Forward                     Alaska Anchorage
Shane Hanna (Soph. / Salmon Arm, British Columbia)     Defenseman               Michigan Tech
Brock Maschmeyer (Soph. / Bruederheim, Alberta)          Defenseman              Northern Michigan
CJ Motte (Sr. / St. Clair, Mich.)                                      Goaltender                 Ferris State

All-Rookie Team

Brandon Hawkins (Fr. / Macomb, Mich.)             Forward                   Bowling Green
C.J. Franklin (Fr. / Forest Hills, Minn.)                Forward                   Minnesota State
Max McHugh  (Fr. / Seattle, Wash.)                   Forward                   Alabama Huntsville
Mark Friedman (Fr. / Toronto, Ontario)               Defenseman             Bowling Green
Nolan Valleau (Fr. / Novi, Mich.)                        Defenseman             Bowling Green
Michael Bitzer (Fr. / Moorhead, Minn.)               Goaltender                Bemidji State

• The NCHC will announce its individual honors on March 19, but unveiled its all-conference teams this week. St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth each earned four All-NCHC mentions led by St. Cloud State's junior forward Jonny Brodzinski on the First Team. Brodzinski is also a finalist for the Player of the Year award. 

Gophers associate head coach Mike Guentzel's son, Jake, a sophomore defenseman for Omaha, was an NCHC all-conference honorable mention.

NCHC First-Team All-Conference
Trevor Moore, So., F, Denver – 26 points (8 first-place votes)
Jonny Brodzinski, Jr., F, SCSU – 25 (7)
Mark MacMillan, Sr., F, UND – 22 (6)
Joey LaLeggia, Sr., D, Denver – 42 (14) (unanimous)
Jaccob Slavin, So., D, CC – 21 (5)
Zane McIntyre, Jr., G, UND – 32 (10)

Second-Team All-Conference
Danton Heinen, Fr., F, Denver – 22 (5)
Austin Czarnik, Sr., F, Miami – 21 (4)
Drake Caggiula, Jr., F, UND – 17 (4)
Andy Welinski, Jr., D, UMD – 20 (4)
Jordan Schmaltz, Jr., D, UND – 19 (5)
Ryan Massa, Sr., G, Omaha – 19 (4)

Honorable Mention All-Conference
Austin Ortega, So., F, Omaha – 16 (4)
Dominic Toninato, So., F, UMD – 14 (4)
Jake Guentzel, So., F, Omaha – 8 (2)
Matthew Caito, Jr., D, Miami – 10 (3)
Andrew Prochno, Sr., D, SCSU – 4 (0)
Charlie Lindgren, So., G, SCSU - 6 (1)

All-Rookie Team
Danton Heinen, F, Denver – 42 (14) (unanimous)
Patrick Russell, F, SCSU – 35 (11)
Nick Schmaltz, F, UND – 30 (9)
Louie Belpedio, D, Miami – 40 (13)
Luc Snuggerud, D, Omaha – 22 (6)
Kasimir Kaskisuo, G, UMD – 38 (12)

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