Western Collegiate Hockey Association

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Western Collegiate Hockey Association
WCHA
Western Collegiate Hockey Association logo
Established1951
AssociationNCAA
DivisionDivision I
Members15
Sports fielded
RegionMidwestern United States, Alabama, and Alaska
Former namesMidwest Collegiate Hockey League (1951–53)
Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (1953–58)
HeadquartersEdina, Minnesota
CommissionerBill Robertson (men's)
Jennifer Flowers (women's)[1]
Websitehttp://www.wcha.com
Locations
Western Collegiate Hockey Association locations

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

WCHA member teams have won a record 38 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]

History[edit]

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 realignment[edit]

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 realignment[edit]

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 its seven Midwestern 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] In February 2020, these seven schools announced they would form a new CCHA.[17]

At the time the seven Midwestern members announced their plans to leave, 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.[18] 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 continued 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.[19] 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.[20]

In November 2019, Alabama–Huntsville submitted a withdrawal letter to the WCHA, stating that it also planned to leave after the 2020–21 season. At the time, UAH was discussing potential future options with the two Alaska campuses.[21] However, UAH subsequently dropped hockey effective immediately on May 22, 2020 due to the financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic on its athletic department [22] On May 29, 2020 UAH President Darren Dawson announced that men's hockey would return for the 2020–21 season after more than $750,000 in private contributions were made during the week prior.[23]

In August 2020, Alaska Anchorage announced that it would drop hockey after the 2020–21 season.[24] The University of Alaska Board of Regents offered the hockey team a chance at reinstatement in September if they could raise 2 seasons worth of expenses, approximately $3 million by February 2021. The fundraising was divided into 2 parts: $1.5 million in cash and the remainder in firm pledges. As of December 2020, the team has begun fundraising for the needed money.[25]

While the men's WCHA is now all but certain to fold, the women's WCHA announced a further expansion effective in 2021–22 with the arrival of St. Thomas, a Twin Cities school that received NCAA approval to directly transition from Division III to Division I. St. Thomas had been expelled from its longtime D-III home of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference effective with the end of the 2020–21 school year due to perceptions by many members that it had grown too strong for that conference in multiple sports.[26][27] The Summit League offered the Tommies a D-I home, and backed the school's bid to directly transition from D-III.[28]

Members[edit]

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.

Men's[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Colors NCAA Men's
Champ.
Primary Conference
University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, Alabama 1950 2013 Public 9,736 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
1984
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
2013
7,612 Wildcats           1 GLIAC (D-II)

Women's[edit]

Institution Location Founded Joined Affiliation Enrollment Nickname Colors NCAA Women's
Champ.
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           6 Big Ten

Former men's members[edit]

Institution City State Joined Left Nickname Teams NCAA Champ.[a] Subsequent
Conference
Current
Conference
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 member[edit]

Institution City State Joined Left Nickname Teams NCAA Champ.[a] Subsequent
Conference
Current
Conference
University of North Dakota Grand Forks North Dakota 2004 2017 Fighting Hawks Women's 0 (0) Dropped women's ice hockey

Future women's member[edit]

Institution City State Joining Nickname Teams NCAA Championships Current
Conference
University of St. Thomas St. Paul Minnesota 2021 Tommies Women's 0 MIAC (Division III)


  1. ^ Total championships (Championships won while WCHA member)

Membership timeline[edit]

University of St. Thomas (Minnesota)Lake Superior State UniversityFerris State UniversityBowling Green State UniversityUniversity of Alaska FairbanksUniversity of Alabama in HuntsvilleUniversity of Nebraska 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 arenas[edit]

Locations of Western Collegiate Hockey Association member institutions.
School Men's Arena Capacity Women's Arena Capacity
Alabama–Huntsville Propst Arena 6,600
Alaska Anchorage Sullivan Arena 6,290
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 [29]
Minnesota plays in the Big Ten Ridder Arena 3,400
Minnesota–Duluth plays in the NCHC AMSOIL Arena 6,764
Minnesota State Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center 5,280 Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center 5,280
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:[30] 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.[31]

National Championships[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milweski, Todd (June 4, 2019). "WCHA names Jennifer Flowers women's league commissioner". Wisconsin State Journal. Archived from the original on June 5, 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 16, 2011. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  9. ^ Paisley, Joe (July 9, 2011). "Schools confirm new college hockey 'super league'". Archived from the original on July 16, 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 16, 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". USCHO.com. 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. ^ Johnson, Randy (February 18, 2020). "CCHA will be new name for seven teams leaving WCHA in 2021-22". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  18. ^ "7 of 10 WCHA Teams Announce Plans to Leave". College Hockey News. June 28, 2019. Retrieved June 29, 2019.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Alaska Schools Cleared to Play in 2020-21". College Hockey News. November 11, 2019. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  21. ^ Bragg, Beth (November 20, 2019). "Could UAA and UAF be the last hockey teams left in the WCHA?". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved April 22, 2020.
  22. ^ "COVID-19 Forcing UAH to Take Steps for More Budget Reductions". UAH Athletics. May 22, 2020. Retrieved May 23, 2020.
  23. ^ "UAH announces hockey will return after private funds raised to support program". AL.com. May 29, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2020.
  24. ^ "UAA announces reconfiguration of athletics programs" (Press release). Alaska Anchorage Seawolves. August 19, 2020. Retrieved September 10, 2020.
  25. ^ Bragg, Beth (October 19, 2020). "UAA hockey supporters launch Save Seawolf Hockey fundraising campaign". Anchorage Daily News. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  26. ^ Campbell, Dave (May 22, 2019). "MIAC ousts original member St. Thomas for being too strong". Star Tribune. Associated Press. Retrieved July 15, 2019.
  27. ^ "Athletics Conference Update" (Press release). University of St. Thomas (Minnesota). October 4, 2019. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  28. ^ "NCAA Ruling Allows D-III St. Thomas to Make Unprecedented Leap to D-I" (Press release). St. Thomas Tommies. July 15, 2020. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
  29. ^ "Tech-Northern Rivalry Resumes on Ice This Weekend". 19 February 2014.
  30. ^ "Head Coaches Tab Denver as MacNaughton Cup Favorite in Annual Grand Forks Herald WCHA Pre-Season Poll". WCHA.com. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2013-08-26.
  31. ^ "WCHA Awards". College hockey Historical Archive. Retrieved 2013-08-26.

External links[edit]