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Western Collegiate Hockey Association

The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is a college athletic conference which operates over a wide area of the Midwestern, Western, and Southeastern United States. It participates in the NCAA's Division I as an ice hockey-only conference.[2]

Western Collegiate Hockey Association
Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo
DivisionDivision I
Sports fielded
RegionMidwestern United States, Alaska, and Alabama
Former namesMidwest Collegiate Hockey League (1951–53)
Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (1953–58)
HeadquartersEdina, Minnesota
CommissionerBill Robertson (men's)
Jennifer Flowers (women's)[1]
Western Collegiate Hockey Association locations

WCHA member teams have won a record 36 men's NCAA hockey championships, most recently in 2011 by the Minnesota–Duluth Bulldogs. A WCHA team has also finished as the national runner-up a total of 28 times.[3] WCHA teams also won the first 13 NCAA women's titles, which were first awarded in 2001.[4]


The league was founded in 1951 as the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL),[2] then was known as the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) until 1958. The 1958–59 season was one of independence for members as a result of recruiting techniques by some teams.[2] The current Western Collegiate Hockey Association was founded for the 1959–60 season.[2] The 2005 NCAA Frozen Four hockey tournament finals were noteworthy when all four teams came from the WCHA.

WCHA teams also won the first 13 NCAA women's titles, which were first awarded in 2001.[4] In 2006, WCHA member Wisconsin was the first school to capture both the men's and women's Division I ice hockey championships in the same season.[5]

The men's regular season conference champion is awarded the MacNaughton Cup,[6] while the league's tournament champion winning the WCHA Final Five takes home the Broadmoor Trophy.[7]

2013 realignmentEdit

On March 22, 2011, Minnesota and Wisconsin announced that their men's teams planned to leave the league in order to form a hockey Big Ten Conference in 2013–14, along with Penn State, which would start a varsity hockey program in 2012–13, and Central Collegiate Hockey Association members Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State.[8]

In response to the creation of the Big Ten men's hockey conference, Denver, Colorado College, North Dakota, Nebraska-Omaha, Minnesota-Duluth, and St. Cloud State left the WCHA to join Miami University and Western Michigan of the CCHA to create the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.[9][10] Facing membership at 4 teams for the 2013–14 season, the WCHA conference added one of its former members, Northern Michigan of the CCHA, on July 15, 2011.[11]

On August 25, 2011, the WCHA announced that it had invited the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bowling Green, Ferris State, and Lake Superior State to join beginning in the 2013–14 season. On August 26, 2011, Alaska-Fairbanks, Ferris State, and Lake Superior State accepted their invitations and joined Northern Michigan in the WCHA in 2013.[12] After much deliberation, on October 4, 2011, Bowling Green decided to join the WCHA as well in 2013.[13] On January 17, 2013, the WCHA admitted Alabama–Huntsville to the league, effective in the 2013–14 season.[14]

This realignment activity only affected the men's side of the WCHA. Even after Penn State took the ice with both men's and women's teams, the Big Ten still had only four members with varsity women's hockey (Michigan and Michigan State field only men's teams). This meant that the women's side of the WCHA remained intact for the immediate future.

After realignmentEdit

The next change in the conference membership came shortly after the 2016–17 season, when North Dakota announced that it would drop women's hockey.[15]

During the 2019 offseason, the future of the men's side of the WCHA fell into serious doubt when seven of its 10 members—Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State, and Northern Michigan—notified the WCHA that they would leave the league after the 2020–21 season, potentially forming a new men's hockey conference.[16]

At the same time, the two Alaska teams were facing a crisis following the veto by state governor Mike Dunleavy of over $100 million in funding for the University of Alaska system, a move that was seen as potentially ending intercollegiate athletics entirely at both the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses.[17] The cuts led the UA system to start the process of consolidating the three-campus system into a single accredited institution (though retaining the existing campuses), with the system president telling local media that a single accreditation would likely lead to the Anchorage and Fairbanks athletic programs being combined into a single program. While both campuses continue to sponsor men's ice hockey in the 2019–20 season, the future of at least one of the teams beyond that point was then seen as uncertain at best.[18] Later developments saw many of the budget cuts pulled back, as well as a temporary halt to work on a single UA system accreditation; this led the UA system to announce that athletics at both campuses would continue as is through the 2020–21 school year.[19]


The WCHA has 15 member schools in all; the men's division operates with 10 members, while the women's division has 7. Only two schools, Bemidji State and Minnesota State, have both men's and women's teams in the conference.


Institution Location Founded Joined Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Colors NCAA Men's
Primary Conference
University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, Alabama 1969 2013 Public 9,101 Chargers           0 Gulf South (D-II)
University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, Alaska 1977 1993 15,819 Seawolves           0 Great Northwest (D-II)
University of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks, Alaska 1917 2013 7,744 Nanooks           0 Great Northwest (D-II)
Bemidji State University Bemidji, Minnesota 1919 2010 (men) 5,198 Beavers           0 Northern Sun (D-II)
Bowling Green State University Bowling Green, Ohio 1910 2013 17,357 Falcons           1 MAC
Ferris State University Big Rapids, Michigan 1884 2013 13,798 Bulldogs           0 GLIAC (D-II)
Lake Superior State University Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan 1946 2013 1,963 Lakers           3 GLIAC (D-II)
Michigan Technological University Houghton, Michigan 1885 1951–1981
7,319 Huskies           3 GLIAC (D-II)
Minnesota State University, Mankato Mankato, Minnesota 1867 1999 14,712 Mavericks           0 Northern Sun (D-II)
Northern Michigan University Marquette, Michigan 1899 1984–1997
7,612 Wildcats           1 GLIAC (D-II)


Institution Location Founded Joined Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Colors NCAA Women's
Primary Conference
Bemidji State University Bemidji, Minnesota 1919 1999 (women) Public 5,198 Beavers           0 Northern Sun (D-II)
University of Minnesota Minneapolis & Saint Paul, Minnesota 1851 1999 (women) 51,848 Golden Gophers           6 Big Ten
University of Minnesota Duluth Duluth, Minnesota 1947 1999 (women) 11,168 Bulldogs           5 Northern Sun (D-II)
Minnesota State University, Mankato Mankato, Minnesota 1867 1999 14,712 Mavericks           0 Northern Sun (D-II)
Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio 1870 1999 59,837 Buckeyes           0 Big Ten
St. Cloud State University St. Cloud, Minnesota 1869 1999 (women) 14,615 Huskies           0 Northern Sun (D-II)
University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison, Wisconsin 1848 1999 (women) 43,820 Badgers           5 Big Ten

Former men's membersEdit

Institution City State Joined Left Nickname Teams NCAA Champ.[a] Subsequent
Colorado College Colorado Springs Colorado 1951 2013 Tigers Men's 2 (1) NCHC
University of Denver Denver Colorado 1951 2013 Pioneers Men's 8 (7) NCHC
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Michigan 1951 1981 Wolverines Men's 9 (5) CCHA Big Ten
Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan 1951 1981 Spartans Men's 3 (1) CCHA Big Ten
University of Minnesota Minneapolis & St. Paul Minnesota 1951 2013 Golden Gophers Men's 5 (5) Big Ten
University of Minnesota Duluth Duluth Minnesota 1966 2013 Bulldogs Men's 2 (1) NCHC
University of Nebraska Omaha Omaha Nebraska 2010 2013 Mavericks Men's 0 (0) NCHC
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota 1951 2013 Fighting Hawks Men's 8 (7) NCHC
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame Indiana 1971 1981 Fighting Irish Men's 0 (0) CCHA Big Ten
St. Cloud State University St. Cloud Minnesota 1990 2013 Huskies Men's 0 (0) NCHC
University of Wisconsin–Madison Madison Wisconsin 1969 2013 Badgers Men's 6 (6) Big Ten
  1. ^ Total championships (Championships won while WCHA member)

Former women's memberEdit

Institution City State Joined Left Nickname Teams NCAA Champ.[a] Subsequent
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota 2004 2017 Fighting Hawks Women's 0 (0) Dropped women's ice hockey
  1. ^ Total championships (Championships won while WCHA member)

Membership timelineEdit

Lake Superior State UniversityFerris State UniversityBowling Green State UniversityUniversity of Alaska FairbanksUniversity of Alabama in HuntsvilleUniversity of Nebraska at OmahaOhio State UniversityMinnesota State University, MankatoBemidji State UniversityUniversity of Alaska AnchorageSt. Cloud State UniversityNorthern Michigan UniversityUniversity of Notre DameUniversity of Wisconsin–MadisonUniversity of Minnesota DuluthUniversity of North DakotaUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesMichigan Technological UniversityUniversity of DenverColorado CollegeMichigan State UniversityUniversity of Michigan 

Conference arenasEdit

Locations of Western Collegiate Hockey Association member institutions.
School Men's Arena Capacity Women's Arena Capacity
Alabama–Huntsville Propst Arena 6,602
Alaska Anchorage Wells Fargo Sports Complex 800
Alaska Carlson Center 4,595
Bemidji State Sanford Center 4,700 Sanford Center 4,700
Bowling Green Slater Family Ice Arena 5,000
Ferris State Robert L. Ewigleben Arena 2,493
Lake Superior Taffy Abel Arena 4,000
Michigan Tech MacInnes Student Ice Arena 4,466 [20]
Minnesota plays in the Big Ten Ridder Arena 3,400
Minnesota–Duluth plays in the NCHC AMSOIL Arena 6,764
Minnesota State Mankato Civic Center 4,832 Mankato Civic Center 4,832
Northern Michigan Berry Events Center 3,902
Ohio State plays in the Big Ten OSU Ice Rink 1,415
St. Cloud State plays in the NCHC Herb Brooks National Hockey Center 5,763
Wisconsin plays in the Big Ten LaBahn Arena 2,273

Awards (Men's)Edit

At the conclusion of each regular season schedule the coaches of each WCHA team vote which players they choose to be on the two to four All-Conference Teams:[21] first team and second team with a rookie team added in 1990–91 and a third team added in 1995–96. Additionally they vote to award up to 5 individual trophies to an eligible player at the same time. The WCHA also awards a Most Valuable Player in Tournament, which is voted on at the conclusion of the conference tournament. Only the Coach of the Year award has been bestowed in each year of the WCHA's existence, making it the oldest continually-awarded conference award in Division I ice hockey.[22]

National ChampionshipsEdit

WCHA schools have won 38 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey National Championships

Year School
1951 Michigan
1952 Michigan
1953 Michigan
1955 Michigan
1956 Michigan
1957 Colorado College
1958 Denver
1959 North Dakota
1960 Denver
1961 Denver
1962 Michigan Tech
1963 North Dakota
1964 Michigan
1965 Michigan Tech
1966 Michigan State
1968 Denver
1969 Denver
1973 Wisconsin
1974 Minnesota
1975 Michigan Tech
1976 Minnesota
1977 Wisconsin
1979 Minnesota
1980 North Dakota
1981 Wisconsin
1982 North Dakota
1983 Wisconsin
1987 North Dakota
1990 Wisconsin
1991 Northern Michigan
1997 North Dakota
2000 North Dakota
2002 Minnesota
2003 Minnesota
2004 Denver
2005 Denver
2006 Wisconsin
2011 Minnesota-Duluth

WCHA schools have won 16 NCAA Women's Ice Hockey National Championships

Year School
2001 Minnesota-Duluth
2002 Minnesota-Duluth
2003 Minnesota-Duluth
2004 Minnesota
2005 Minnesota
2006 Wisconsin
2007 Wisconsin
2008 Minnesota-Duluth
2009 Wisconsin
2010 Minnesota-Duluth
2011 Wisconsin
2012 Minnesota
2013 Minnesota
2015 Minnesota
2016 Minnesota
2019 Wisconsin


  1. ^ Milweski, Todd (June 4, 2019). "WCHA names Jennifer Flowers women's league commissioner". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on June 4, 2019. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d Stutt, Kurt. "History of the WCHA". USCHO. Archived from the original on 2008-05-21. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  3. ^ "All-Time Championship Tournament records and results" (PDF). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved 2009-02-23.
  4. ^ a b "National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey Champions". National Collegiate Women's Ice Hockey History. NCAA. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  5. ^ Schmoldt, Eric (2006-04-10). "UW's championship celebration continues at rally". The Badger Herald. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  6. ^ Julien, Connie (2009). "MacNaughton Cup Winners". CC Hockey History.
  7. ^ "WCHA Unveils New Playoff Format and Broadmoor Trophy, Welcomes Bemidji State and Nebraska Omaha". Media Center. Western Collegiate Hockey Association. 2010-03-20. Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  8. ^ "Big Ten Officially Announces Hockey Conference". College Hockey News. March 21, 2011. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  9. ^ Paisley, Joe (July 9, 2011). "Schools confirm new college hockey 'super league'". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  10. ^ "St. Cloud St., W. Michigan join league". September 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "WCHA set to add Northern Michigan as sixth member for 2013–14". U.S. College Hockey Online. July 15, 2011. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  12. ^ Sipple, George (August 26, 2011). "Ferris State becomes third CCHA team to accept WCHA invitation". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
  13. ^ Wagner, John (October 4, 2011). "Falcons make switch to WCHA". Toledo Blade. Retrieved October 5, 2011.
  14. ^ "WCHA accepts Alabama-Huntsville for 2013-14 season". January 17, 2013. Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  15. ^ "Deep budget cuts force UND to eliminate three varsity sports" (Press release). North Dakota Fighting Hawks. March 29, 2017. Retrieved April 1, 2017.
  16. ^ "Statement Regarding Hockey League Affiliation" (Press release). Bowling Green Falcons. June 28, 2019. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  17. ^ "7 of 10 WCHA Teams Announce Plans to Leave". College Hockey News. June 28, 2019. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  18. ^ Bragg, Beth (August 2, 2019). "As University of Alaska moves toward consolidation, two athletic programs might become one". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  19. ^ "Alaska Schools Cleared to Play in 2020-21". College Hockey News. November 11, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  20. ^ "Tech-Northern Rivalry Resumes on Ice This Weekend". 19 February 2014.
  21. ^ "Head Coaches Tab Denver as MacNaughton Cup Favorite in Annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA Pre-Season Poll". 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  22. ^ "WCHA Awards". College hockey Historical Archive. Retrieved 2013-08-26.

External linksEdit