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WCHA All-Conference Awards

Matt Christians

Yesterday, we announced our choices for the WCHA All-Conference teams. Today, the WCHA announced their official All-Conference teams and individual league award winners.

Here are this year's honorees:

2014-15 ALL-WCHA TEAMS

FIRST TEAM

PLAYER (YEAR / HOMETOWN)                      POSITION                      SCHOOL

Tanner Kero (Sr. / Hancock, Mich.)                         Forward                        Michigan Technological University

Matt Leitner (Sr. / Los Alamitos, Calif.)                        Forward Minnesota State University

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 University

Jamie Phillips (Jr. / Caledonia, Ontario)                       Goaltender                    Michigan Technological University

SECOND TEAM

PLAYER (YEAR / HOMETOWN)                      POSITION                      SCHOOL

Bryce Gervais (Jr. / Battleford, Saskatchewan)                  Forward                        Minnesota State University

Alex Petan (Jr. / Delta, British Columbia)                      Forward                        Michigan Technological University

Malcolm Gould (Jr. / North Vancouver, British Columbia) Forward                        Michigan Technological University

Matt Prapavessis (Sr. / Oakville, Ontario)                       Defenseman                 Bemidji State University

Casey Nelson (Soph. / Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.)                      Defenseman                 Minnesota State University

Stephon Williams (Jr. / Fairbanks, Alaska)                        Goaltender                    Minnesota State University

THIRD TEAM

PLAYER (YEAR / HOMETOWN)                      POSITION                      SCHOOL

Blake Pietila (Sr. / Brighton, Mich.)                         Forward                        Michigan Technological University

Marcus Basara (Soph. / Port Moody, British Columbia)        Forward                        University of Alaska

Brendan Harms (Soph. / Steinbach, Manitoba)                      Forward                        Bemidji State University

Blake Tatchell (Jr. / North Battleford, Saskatchewan)            Forward                        University of Alaska Anchorage

Shane Hanna (Soph. / Salmon Arm, British Columbia)           Defenseman                 Michigan Technological University

Brock Maschmeyer (Soph. / Bruederheim, Alberta)             Defenseman                 Northern Michigan University

CJ Motte (Sr. / St. Clair, Mich.)                         Goaltender                    Ferris State University

ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

PLAYER (YEAR / HOMETOWN)                      POSITION                      SCHOOL

Brandon Hawkins (Fr. / Macomb, Mich.)                         Forward                        Bowling Green State University

C.J. Franklin (Fr. / Forest Lake, Minn.)                         Forward                        Minnesota State University

Max McHugh  (Fr. / Seattle, Wash.)                         Forward                        University of Alabama in Huntsville

Mark Friedman (Fr. / Toronto, Ontario)                       Defenseman                 Bowling Green State University

Nolan Valleau (Fr. / Novi, Mich.)                         Defenseman                 Bowling Green State University

Michael Bitzer (Fr. / Moorhead, Minn.)                         Goaltender                    Bemidji State University

And here are the individual award winners, with write-ups courtesy of the WCHA:

WCHA Player of the Year and Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year

Tanner Kero, Sr., F, Michigan Tech (Hancock, Mich.)

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.

WCHA Defensive Player of the Year

Colton Parayko, Jr., D, Alaska (St. Albert, Alberta)

Parayko earned his second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year honor after excelling on both ends of the ice. The junior from St. Albert, Alberta ranked third among WCHA defensemen with 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) in 28 league contests, while tying for third among all league players with 13 power-play points. While finishing with 23 points overall, Parayko also helped anchor a Nanooks’ defense that ranked in the top 25 nationally – including yielding just 1.38 goals per game over a perfect 7-0-1 stretch to end the season. On Tuesday, March 10, the All-WCHA First Team defenseman signed a two-year entry level contract with St. Louis, after he was originally drafted by the Blues in the third round (86thoverall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

WCHA Rookie of the Year

Michael Bitzer, Fr., G, Bemijdi State (Moorhead, Minn.)

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.

WCHA Coach of the Year

Mike Hastings, Minnesota State

Hastings was honored by his peers after guiding the Mavericks to the first MacNaughton Cup in program history and a No. 2 national ranking entering the postseason. During Hastings’ third year at the helm, Minnesota State went 21-4-3 for 45 points in league play, posting a .804 winning percentage that is the third-best in WCHA history for a 28-game conference schedule. The Mavericks, who also ascended to the top of the opinion polls for the first time ever, enters the postseason tied for the nation’s best overall winning percentage at .757 (25-7-3).