Bitzer making the most of his minutes with the Blizzard

Alexandria Blizzard goaltender Michael Bitzer seems to improve his stock almost every time he gets a chance in net.

It has been well documented that Bitzer will likely have options as to where he plays hockey next season. With the way he has played in limited opportunities, there is no doubt Alexandria would love to have him.

Photo by Eric Morken/Echo Press: Blizzard goaltender Michael Bitzer watched the puck during the first period on Saturday night.

Bitzer continued to improve his stock with the way he played in a 5-0 shutout of Austin on Saturday night. Alexandria was facing an 0-2 hole in the Central Division playoffs before the former Moorhead standout turned aside 32 shots in a game that the Blizzard controlled in all facets.

Bitzer credited his defense, and they did play great in front of him, but during a stretch in the second period, he made a series of big stops with his team holding onto a 2-0 lead. The Bruins had 19 shots in the middle period and three power plays that they could do nothing with.

“I thought he came up with some really big saves in the second period,” head coach Doc DelCastillo said. “He kept Austin off the scoreboard, and it’s frustrating when you’re playing against that. We kind of ran into that [Friday] night. That’s how [Austin goalie Tyler] Bruggeman played. He stole some from us, and it gets really frustrating when you’re playing against a goalie that’s stealing good scoring chances away.”

For Bitzer, it’s a matter of taking advantage of his chances in goal in his role as a backup behind starter Jacob Meyers. Meyers has been strong all season, finishing the regular season fifth in goals against average (2.09), third in save percentage (.929), second in wins (30) and third in shutouts (6).

He got the start in game one against Austin and took the loss after turning aside 26 of the 30 shots he faced. Meyers has been struggling with an ankle injury the last few weeks of the season, but DelCastillo said starting Bitzer had more to do with wanting to give him a chance than a lingering injury to Meyers.

“Jacob played OK,” DelCastillo said. “But we didn’t win. You give Michael an opportunity, and he took the opportunity and made the most out of it.”

He’s done that almost every time out. Bitzer is now 4-0-1 in his five games in net for the Blizzard. He has 110 saves in 118 shots faced.

“I just feel like I’ve gotten the chance to play,” he said. “Get a few games under your belt, a few minutes. I got used to the speed, and there’s nothing better than playing playoff hockey. I’m getting another run here after the high school season. Hopefully we can run with this and have some fun.”