WICHITA, Kan. (Sept. 30) - The Wichita Thunder, ECHL affiliate of the National Hockey League's Edmonton Oilers and American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors and powered by Toyota, announced the signing of goaltender Michael Bitzer and forward Carter Johnson for the 2021-22 season.
"We're excited to add both players to our roster for the coming season," said Head Coach Bruce Ramsay. "Michael brings experience to our goaltending duo and has played with a few of our current group in the past. Carter is a high-energy player who plays a hard-nose game."
Bitzer, 27, returns to the ECHL after spending the last two seasons with the DEL2's Crimmitschau ETC. The Moorhead, Minnesota native went 16-11-0 in 29 games last season, collecting a 3.14 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. He previously made stops in Idaho, Rapid City and Atlanta before heading overseas.
"I'm really looking forward to getting down to Wichita and getting things started," commented Bitzer. "I talked to a few of the guys from last season that I have played with in the past and they all said they loved the city and playing for the organization. My family and I thought it was a no-brainer and can’t wait to see everyone at the rink!
Prior to turning pro, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound netminder attended Bemidji State University. His best season came in 2016-17, where he went 22-14-3, had a solid 1.71 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He earned WCHA First All-Star Team, WCHA Goaltending Champion, WCHA Player of the Year, helped the Beavers to the league regular season title, West First Team All-Star and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
Bitzer is a former college teammate of current Thunder forward Jay Dickman and also played youth hockey with current Thunder defenseman Garrett Schmitz.
Johnson, 25, turns pro after playing his collegiate career at Miami University (Ohio). A native of Gimli, Manitoba, the 6-foot-3, 201-pound winger appeared in 92 games for the Redhawks, recording 13 points (5g, 8a).
"I can't be more excited to be a part of the Thunder," stated Johnson. "I can't wait to head south and begin my pro career with Wichita."
Prior to heading to college, Johnson played one season for the North American Hockey League's Corpus Christi Ice Rays. He notched 37 points (16g, 21a) in 59 games during the 2016-17 season.
The Thunder will open their home schedule on Friday, October 29 against the Utah Grizzlies and close home-opening weekend on Saturday, October 30 as the Wheeling Nailers make their first-ever trip to the Air Capital.
Season tickets for the 2021-22 season are on sale now. October is not far away and the schedule has been announced. Join Thunder Nation today and lock in your seat(s) for all 36 home games at INTRUST Bank Arena. For more information, click HERE.
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