Minnesota State Mankato 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 Thursday.
The Mavericks won the MacNaughton Cup and enter this weekend's WCHA playoffs against Lake Superior 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 won 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 compiling a 12-4-3 record.
Bitzer, from Moorhead, Minn., 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 Mankato. He was named the tournament MVP.
Minnesota State Mankato junior goaltender Stephon Williams (1.55 goals-against average in conference play) was selected Goaltending Champion, and Michigan Tech senior forward Tanner Kero (13 goals, 21 assists in WCHA games) was named the WCHA Player of the Year.
The Mavericks picked up six all-conference honors, with forward Matt Leitner and defenseman Zach Palmquist landing on the first team.
The NCHC will announce its individual honors March 19, but it unveiled its all-conference teams this week. St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth each had four all-NCHC mentions, led by St. Cloud State junior forward Jonny Brodzinski on the first team. Brodzinski is also a finalist for the Player of the Year award.
Omaha sophomore defenseman Jake Guentzel, son of Gophers associate head coach Mike Guentzel, was an NCHC all-conference honorable mention.
Wrestling nationals to start Friday
The NCAA Division II and III wrestling championships begin Friday, and Minnesota will be strongly represented.
Ten Augsburg wrestlers qualified for the Division III meet in Hershey, Pa., where the Auggies will be going for the school's 12th national championship. Wartburg has won the past four titles and is tied for the NCAA record with Augsburg with 11 championships.
St. Cloud State qualified six wrestlers for the Division II meet in St. Louis, and Minnesota State Mankato qualified three.
•The St. Olaf men's and women's Nordic and Alpine ski teams each won the President's Award in last weekend's Collegiate Skiing and Snowboarding National Championships in Mount Bachelor, Ore. The St. Olaf women also won the Nordic Women's Championship.
•The Lynx revealed their preseason schedule for the coming WNBA season. The team will play at Washington on May 27 and will play New York on June 1 at Target Center. The regular season will begin with a home game June 5 against Tulsa.