There is no doubt that getting Michael Bitzer in an Alexandria uniform through the final few weeks of this season can’t hurt the Blizzard’s chances of retaining him next year.
How much it will help, though, remains to be seen. Bitzer joined the Blizzard last week and is in the process of getting to know his new teammates. He made a good impression on them when the standout goaltender from Moorhead got his first North American Hockey League (NAHL) win in his debut this past Saturday by stopping 30-of-31 shots in Bismarck.
“I’ve only been here a couple days but there’s a bunch of great guys,” Bitzer said when I talked to him on Monday for a story that will be in Wednesday’s issue of the Echo Press. “It’s been a really great experience. I like it so far, and we’ll see what happens this summer and go from there.”
This summer is when Bitzer’s options will likely grow after the United States Hockey League (USHL) Entry Draft. It’s widely believed that Bitzer will be taken in the draft in May after his stock within the league rose after an already strong senior season was capped off with a great showing at the Minnesota state tournament.
One thing Bitzer said he won’t forget is the faith Alexandria showed in him when the Blizzard signed him to a tender in early December. In the end, though, he has to decide what is best for him and his chances of playing Division I hockey somewhere.
“Them having faith in me right away and giving me the opportunity to play right away will definitely throw a little weight their way,” Bitzer said. “But we’ll see. Whatever options are best for me. We’ll just see what happens. I want to concentrate on what’s happening now and on the rest of the season. I’ll weigh my options and see what happens when we get to that.”
Bitzer has already sacrificed quite a bit to come to Alexandria after finishing his season with the Spuds. He had to give up baseball this spring and the rest of his high school career with his friends in Moorhead. He is currently taking online courses that will allow him to finish up his education and graduate with his diploma from Moorhead this semester.