NAHL Alumni Update
March 18, 2015
Post-season awards and recognition are starting to be handed out in the NCAA and plenty of NAHL alumni are on the list of those that have been honored this year. This week’s update also features some players who earned weekly awards as well. Here is a look at some of those recognized.
Do you know an NAHL alumni who is doing something special? Send us a note and we may feature it in our next update.
WCHA Player of the Year and Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year: Tanner Kero, Michigan Tech
Kero has established himself as one of the premier players in college hockey during a dynamic senior campaign on the ice, while exemplifying the true nature of a student-athlete away from the rink. The senior from Hancock, Mich. captured the WCHA scoring crown with 13 goals, 21 assists and 34 points in 28 conference games. A Hobey Baker Award nominee and All-WCHA First Team selection, Kero enters the postseason tied for 10th in the country with 43 points overall (18 goals, 25 assists), while also ranking among NCAA leaders for plus/minus (tied for fifth at +22) and game-winning goals (tied for third with seven). In the classroom, Kero maintains a 3.72 GPA in mathematics with a concentration in actuarial sciences. He has been honored as a WCHA Scholar-Athlete and earned a spot on the All-Academic team in all three years in which he has been eligible. One of 10 finalists for the 2015 Senior CLASS Award, Kero also volunteers in the Koaches Kids reading program for elementary schools, local youth hockey programs and numerous local charity events in the Houghton, Mich. area. Kero played in the NAHL during the 2009-10 season for the Marquette Rangers, where during that season he was named NAHL Rookie of the Year.
WCHA Rookie of the Year: Michael Bitzer, Bemijdi State
Bitzer has been not just one of the best goaltenders in the WCHA, but one of the top netminders in the country during his rookie collegiate campaign. The freshman from Moorhead, Minn. led the WCHA with a .936 save percentage in conference play, while ranking second with a 1.61 goals against average. He ranks sixth nationally (third among freshman) with an overall .932 save percentage, while pacing all NCAA rookies with a 1.76 GAA (fourth overall). Beginning Dec. 12, Bitzer – who also earned a spot on the WCHA All-Rookie team – leads the country with a .948 save percentage and 1.31 GAA, while going 12-4-3 over his final 16 starts. Bitzer played his first junior hockey games in the NAHL during the 2011-12 season for the Alexandria Blizzard
WCHA All-Rookie Team
Brandon Hawkins, Bowling Green (Texas Tornado, NAHL Rookie of the Year, 2012-13)
Max McHugh, Alabama-Huntsville (Wenatchee Wild, 2010-13)
Nolan Valleau, Bowling Green (Port Huron Fighting Falcons/New Mexico Mustangs, 2011-12)
Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State (Alexandria Blizzard, 2011-12)
Austin Czarnik, Miami University (USNTDP, 2008-09)
Ryan Massa, Nebraska-Omaha (Bismarck Bobcats, 2009-10)
All-Big 10 Freshman Team
Matthew Weis, Ohio State (Corpus Christi IceRays, 2011-12)
Scott Conway, Penn State (Texas Tornado, 2012-13)
Hockey East Rookie of the Week: CJ Smith, UMass-Lowell
Smith tallied four points (2g, 2a) across three games in the Hockey East Quarterfinals against No. 5 seed Notre Dame. He scored the game winning goal in a 5-0 UMass Lowell victory Friday and the Des Moines, Iowa native buried the first goal of Sunday's Game 3 to help the River Hawks earn a trip back to TD Garden for the third straight year. Smith played two years in the NAHL from 2011-13 for the Austin Bruins.
Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week: Keegan Asmundson, Canisius
Making his postseason debut, senior netminder Keegan Asmundson shined for the Griffs in a quarterfinal sweep against Sacred Heart, stopping 51-of-52 shots for a 0.50 goals against average and .981 save percentage. The senior opened the weekend with a 19-save performance in game one to post his second shutout of the season. The then recorded 32 saves in a game two victory, helping the team to a 2-1 win. The senior stopped the final 10 shots on net of the game to lead the Griffs to their third-straight trip to the Atlantic Hockey Semifinals. Asmundson played in the NAHL from 2009-11 for the Austin Bruins and North Iowa Outlaws.
The WIAC men’s conference announced its year-end awards recently, in addition to the All-WIAC Team and Honorable Mentions. Wisconsin-Stevens Point defenseman Kevin Gibson picked up Player of the Year honors after leading the WIAC in defensemen scoring with 29 points. He recorded at least one point in 19 of 27 games, including eight multi-point games. Gibson played three seasons in the NAHL from 2008-11, most recently for the Michigan Warriors, as well as, the Marquette Rangers.