BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Nov. 1, 2017 – Three student-athletes from the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) have been announced among the 20 candidates for the 2017-18 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey: Bemidji State goaltender Michael Bitzer, Ferris State forward Andrew Dorantes and Bowling Green forward Mitch McLain.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their athletic platforms to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, student-athletes must be classified as NCAA Division I seniors and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.
Bitzer, a two-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient and a 2016-17 CoSIDA Academic All-American, recently became the WCHA's all-time leader with his 17th career shutout (he now has 18 as of Nov. 1). The 2016-17 WCHA Player of the Year and an AHCA/CCM Hockey First-Team All-American, Bitzer owns a sparkling 1.86 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 107 career games with the Beavers (52-42-13). A regular on the BSU Dean's List and the Athletics Director's 3.0 Club, he carries a 3.82 cumulative GPA in exercise science, with an emphasis in medical fitness. The Moorhead, Minn. native is also active in the Bemidji community, volunteering at the Bemidji Area Food Shelf as a gardener, serving meals at local schools and working with youth hockey players (boys and girls). His full award profile can be viewed here.
Dorantes was an AHCA All-America Scholar in 2016-17, the third of three-consecutive seasons in which he earned a WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award. A consistent scorer on a Ferris State team that has won a WCHA playoff championship and made an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight during his time on campus, Dorantes has tallied 44 points (15g-29a) in 113 collegiate games. In the classroom, the finance major from Waterford, Mich. has a cumulative 3.86 GPA as a FSU Dean's & President's Academic Award recipient. Dorantes' community endeavors include volunteer work with several organizations that help those with disabilities, fundraisers for military veterans and breast cancer assistance, and civic projects at local elementary and middle schools. His full award profile can be viewed here.
Bowling Green's captain this season, McLain is a WCHA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient, a two-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree and a 2016-17 AHCA All-America Scholar. The Falcons' active leading scorer and a returning First Team All-WCHA performer, he has 36 goals and 36 assists for 72 points in 127 collegiate contests. A native of Baxter, Minn., he owns a cumulative 3.50 GPA as a mild-to-moderate intervention specialist major. Engaged with his fellow student-athletes and the local community, he is a Student Achievement Assessment Committee (SAAC) representative, while he volunteers extensively with special education students at Wood Lane School in Bowling Green. His full award profile can be viewed here.
The 20 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists in February, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, coaches and fans, who will select one candidate who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the 2018 NCAA Men's Frozen Four in April.