Beaver Fever Friday – Mens Hockey – Eric Martin

Rosen and Driscoll among WCHA individual award recipients

Bemidji State University sophomore blueliner Elias Rosén has been selected as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Defensive Player of the Year, while senior goaltender Zach Driscoll was announced as the WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year Thursday as the league named its individual award recipients for the 2020-21 campaign.

“Congratulations to all of our WCHA individual award winners,” WCHA President and Men’s League Commissioner Bill Robertson said. “We had a number of outstanding performances in 2020-21. To be recognized as the best of the best in the WCHA is a tremendous honor and we are proud to applaud their stellar seasons and efforts.”

Both awards are first for BSU since the Beavers joined the WCHA for the 2010-11 season. Michael Bitzer is the only other BSU student-athlete to earn a major individual league award and he was a two-time recipient. He was selected as the 2014-15 WCHA Rookie of the Year award and then was named WCHA Player of the Year to cap his junior season in 2016-17.

Rosén shares WCHA Defensive Player of the Year honors this season after another steady campaign as a key contributor on the Beaver blueline. In 20 games, the Mora, Sweden, native has 12 points on four goals and eight assists for BSU and is part of a Bemidji State penalty-kill unit that leads the country with a .929 average (65-of-70) and has killed 20 of its opponents’ last 21 power plays. Despite missing four games due to injury, he opens the WCHA postseason leading all BSU defenders and is tied for fifth on the team in scoring. The 2020-21 All-WCHA First Team selection’s eight helpers placed him third on the team, while his nine points (2g-7a) in league play tops all WCHA blueliners. A member of the Beavers’ top power-play unit, Rosén ranks third on the team with four points (1g-3a) on the man advantage. A Third Team and All-Rookie Team selection a year ago, his 18 blocked shots this season rank fourth on the team.

Rosén has at least one point in 10 of the 20 games he has appeared in during the 2020-21 season, which includes two multi-point performances and a four-game point streak (1g-3) stretching from Jan. 22 to Feb. 6.

Driscoll graduated with a business administration degree in the spring of 2020 and carried a 3.85 undergraduate GPA. He is currently enrolled as a full-time graduate student pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree and carries a 4.0 graduate GPA. The Apple Valley, Minn., native is a two-time WCHA Scholar Athlete and a two-time Academic All-WCHA selection. In addition, he is a two-time AHCA Division I Krampade All-American Scholar selection. He is also a regular on the BSU Dean’s List and the Athletic Director’s 3.0 Club. In 23 appearances in net this season, Driscoll, a Third-Team All-WCHA goaltender and four-time WCHA Goaltender of the Week, is 12-8-3 and leads the league and ranks third nationally with 630 saves. The senior finished the regular season second in the WCHA in shutouts (2), wins (7), and in minutes played (786:32), while paced the league with 334 saves in WCHA play. He has backstopped a BSU penalty-kill unit that leads the nation with a .929 average (65-of-70) and has killed 20 of the last 21 opponent power-play attempts entering the postseason. Driscoll continues to provide service to the community and campus members. He is active on the Student-Athlete Advising Committee (SAAC) and BSU’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Most summers he volunteers for Eastview Youth Hockey Association coaching young goaltenders and serving as a mentor to youth athletes in his hometown.

Driscoll is the first BSU player to be named WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year and is the first Beaver to earn a league’s outstanding student-athlete award since Kyle Hardwick was selected as College Hockey America Student-Athlete of the Year to cap the 2009-10 season.

In addition to Rosen and Driscoll, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Julian Napravnik was selected as the WCHA Offensive Player of the Year, fellow Mavericks Dryden McKay and Akito Hirose were selected as the Goaltender and Rookie of the Year, respectively, while Bowling Green State University’s Will Cullen shared the league Defensive Player of the Year award with Rosén. In addition, MSU’s Mike Hastings took home the league Coach of the Year honor.

Voting for WCHA awards and all-league teams is done by member team head coaches.

The 13-8-3 Beavers completed the WCHA season 8-5-1 to finish fourth in the league’s standings and earned right to host the first round of the WCHA playoffs. The Beavers welcome Michigan Technological University (17-10-1; 7-7-0 WCHA) in a best-of-three series for the right to advance to the semifinal round March 20-21. The series will get underway at 7:07 p.m. Friday, with a 6:07 opening faceoff Saturday and a 5:07 p.m. puck drop Sunday, if needed.

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