April 1, 2008
2007-08 INCH Awards

INCH Player of the Year
INCH Goaltender of the Year
INCH Rookie of the Year
INCH Coach of the Year

INCH All-America Teams
INCH Freshman All-America Team

INCH's annual awards are selected by Inside College Hockey editors and staff, with input from media and coaches from around the country.


Mark Mitera
42 GP, 2-21—23, +33

The CCHA coaches didn't vote Mark Mitera, Michigan's standout junior defenseman, to the all-league first team. Which begs the question, what were they thinking?

Sure, Miami's Alec Martinez and Tyler Eckford of Alaska deserved recognition for their outstanding performances, and their offensive totals were superior to Mitera's. Still, Mitera has reached single-season bests in goals and assists, and he's done it while serving as the stabilizing force for the Wolverines' callow defensive corps.

Consider that Mitera, a first-round pick of Anaheim in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft had played alongside the likes of Matt Hunwick , Tim Cook, and Jack Johnson during his first two years in Ann Arbor. When Mitera, who entered the season with 80 games of collegiate experience to his credit, took the ice for the Wolverines' season opener against Boston College in early October, the other five defensemen in the lineup that night had played in a combined 76 games.

While Mitera's improvement on offense — he's scored at least one point in eight of Michigan's last nine games and has 1-13—14 during that span — has been a boon to the Wolverines' effort, his leadership and sound play in his own end have been his most significant contributions. He plays an average of nearly 25 minutes a game and, in spite of all the ice time, has had a negative plus-minus rating in just two of his team's 42 games. He's been on the ice for roughly one quarter (14 of 54) of the even-strength goals U-M has allowed this season. And he entered the NCAA tournament as the team's leader in blocked shots with 62.

Of course, Mitera is physically gifted. He's a towering presence on the blue line at 6-foot-3 and has the strength and toughness to match, yet skates remarkbly well for his size. Combine those tools with his consistently heady play, burgeoning leadership skills, and continued improvement from season to season, and you've got the recipe for an elite defenseman.

Runner-up: Jack Hillen, Colorado College