Great West Hockey Conference

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Great West Hockey Conference
Established 1985
Dissolved 1988
Association NCAA
Division Division I
Members 4 (1985–86), 3 (1986–87 & 1987–88)
Sports fielded Ice hockey
Region Western United States, Alaska

The Great West Hockey Conference was a short-lived NCAA Division I college ice hockey conference. The conference was formed in 1985 by the four D-I independent schools west of the Rocky Mountains: the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Northern Arizona University, and U.S. International University; in an effort to ease scheduling issues.[1]

The teams played a 12-game schedule in the 1985–86 season, with U.S. International winning the championship. Northern Arizona dropped their hockey program after the season when their venue, the Walkup Skydome, required numerous repairs to the ice rink.[2] The three remaining teams played two more seasons, with Alaska–Anchorage winning the 1986–87 championship, and Alaska–Fairbanks winning in 1987–88.[3]

During the 1987–88 season, the conference announced intentions to expand to 9 teams and gain an automatic bid to the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship. They invited three schools who had recently moved up from Division II: Alabama–Huntsville, Merrimack, and St. Cloud State; however, none of the schools joined.[4] At the end of the season, U.S. International dropped its varsity hockey program, citing high travel costs; three years later, the university declared bankruptcy.[5][6]

With only two teams remaining, the conference dissolved. The two Alaska schools competed as independents until 1993, when Anchorage joined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and Fairbanks joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. After the CCHA disbanded at the end of the 2012–13 season due to major conference realignment, the Alaska schools reunited in the WCHA.


Institution Nickname Location Founded Tenure Fate Current conference
University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves Anchorage, Alaska 1977 1985–1988 Independent WCHA
University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks Fairbanks, Alaska 1917 1985–1988 Independent WCHA
Northern Arizona University Lumberjacks Flagstaff, Arizona 1899 1985–1986 dropped program
U.S. International University Gulls San Diego, California 1952 1985–1988 dropped program


  1. ^ "History of the Great West Hockey Conference". College Hockey Historical Archives. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  2. ^ Wodon, Adam. "Hotbed of Hockey?". 
  3. ^ "Great West Standings". College Hockey Historical Archives. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved January 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ Woody, Doyle (January 23, 1987). "Great West conference invites in 3 new members". Anchorage Daily News. p. B8. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Hazeltine, Rick (April 23, 1988). "Hockey Dropped by USIU". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013. 
  6. ^ Stevenson, Samantha (January 11, 1991). "Going for Broke: Bradshaw Pouring It On in U.S. International's Last Season". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2013.