EDINA, Minn. – Feb. 2, 2015 – With the 2015-16 campaign entering the stretch run, the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) today recognized players from two of the league's hottest teams with its monthly honors for January 2016. Michigan Tech senior forward Alex Petan was named the league's Player of the Month, while Ferris State freshman goaltender Darren Smith garnered Rookie of the Month accolades.
Alex Petan, Sr., F
Michigan Tech (Delta, British Columbia)
Petan helped Michigan Tech vault back into the top-15 of the national rankings, averaging a point per game as the Huskies went 3-0-3 in January – including a 2-0-3 mark against ranked opponents Yale, Minnesota State and Bowling Green. Tech's co-captain was especially effective in WCHA play, pacing the league in points per game (1.50) and goals per game (1.00), while posting four goals and six points in four contests – all against the two (nationally-ranked) teams MTU is chasing in the standings. Petan did all of his league offensive damage against the WCHA's top defensive teams (and two of the top-ten units in the country in Minnesota State and Bowling Green), leading the charge as the Huskies averaged 3.25 goals per game and collected six of a possible eight league points in those two series. The senior from Delta, British Columbia now owns a 12-game point streak in WCHA play, while paces the Association in both overall scoring (14g-11a—25pts in 25 games) and league output (13g-11a—24pts in 19 contests).
- Michael Bitzer, So., G, Bemidji State (led the WCHA with nine games, 525:05 minutes, 200 saves, five wins and two shutouts, going 5-2-2 with a 1.71 goals-against average and .930 save percentage)
- C.J. Franklin, So., F, Minnesota State (scored five goals with three assists in eight games, helping the Mavericks to a 4-3-1 mark for the month)
- Brandon Hawkins, So., F, Bowling Green (WCHA leader with six goals and 11 points in nine games, helping BGSU to its highest-scoring month in a decade)
- Matt Larose, Jr., G, Alabama Huntsville (ranked second in the league with a .935 save percentage, averaging 32.5 stops per game and going 2-1-1 with a 2.22 goals-against average)
- Darren Nowick, Sr., F, Northern Michigan (paced the Wildcats with eight points and five assists; finished the month on a four-game point streak)
- Tyler Morley, Sr., F, Alaska (tied for the WCHA lead with six goals, ranked second with 10 points and paced circuit with four power-play points)
Darren Smith, Fr., G
Ferris State (Barrie, Ontario)
Smith stepped back into the Ferris State net for the team's second game of January and promptly backstopped the Bulldogs to a 3-0-2 mark over the next five contests. The freshman from Barrie, Ontario allowed only nine goals in more than 300 minutes during the stretch, posting a 1.74 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage (126 saves) – both standing as the third-best marks in the league (but tops when compared to the circuit's other undefeated goaltender). Smith posted a league-best 1.68 GAA in WCHA games, helping Ferris State earn six of a possible eight points (vs. Alabama Huntsville and at Bemidji State) and move into fourth place in the conference standings. The two-time WCHA Rookie of the Week (Jan. 11-17 and Jan. 18-24) also earned an impressive 5-2 win over Connecticut in the third-place game of the prestigious Mariucci Classic on Jan. 2.
- Max Coatta, Fr., F, Minnesota State (led all WCHA rookies with two goals, five assists and seven points, helping the Mavericks to a 4-2-1 record when he played)