The frenzied crowds at Ferris State make Ewigleben Arena one of college hockey's most revered venues.
Minnesota State has become a national power with five-straight 20-win seasons, tying for fourth nationally with 122 victories over that span.
The "Madhouse on Mercer" has had a lot to celebrate, as Bowling Green has topped 20 wins for three-straight seasons)
Michigan Tech's current success, which includes ranking fourth nationally with 75 wins the last three seasons, is evoking memories of the Huskies' championship-laden past.
Bemidji State's 22-win season in 2016-17 included the Beavers' first MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champions.
Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen broke a 63-year-old WCHA record and tied the all-time NCAA D-I men's standard with five-straight shutouts between Jan. 21 and Feb. 11, 2017.
THE WCHA – TRADITION STARTS HERE
The men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association, college hockey's most historic, tradition-rich and successful conference, will proudly mark its 66th season of competition in 2017-18.
Founded in 1951 with seven original members as the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL), on to the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) in 1953 and then to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) in 1959, the league has adapted and evolved on numerous occasions over its distinguished history, always with a mindset of growing the game and assisting developing programs however possible.
Since 1951, teams representing the WCHA have earned a record 37 men's national championships and finished as the national runner-up another 27 times. The league has also produced a record 16 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winners, more than 350 All-Americans, 110 Olympians, and more than 450 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). Just a few of the many stars who have worn WCHA jerseys over the years include the likes of John Mayasich, Tony Esposito, Red Berenson, Bill "Red" Hay, Keith Magnuson, Glenn Anderson, Brett Hull, David Backes, Jonathan Toews, Zach Parise, Matt Read, Dany Heatley, Paul Stastny, Curtis Glencross, Phil Kessel and – most recently, 2015-16 NHL All-Rookie Team performer Colton Parayko.
Entering its fifth season under its current configuration, the WCHA consists of 10 quality institutions that offer the best in both educational and athletic environments: the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bemidji State University, Bowling Green State University, Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota State University and Northern Michigan University.
As demonstrated over the past four years, WCHA fans continue to enjoy the intensity, excitement and passion that have long been league hallmarks. The 2016-17 season marked a new era, as the league introduced a new overtime and points structure and capped the campaign with the rousing success of its three-week, on-campus "Battle for the Broadmoor" postseason tournament. In 2016-17, the WCHA also: Produced a quartet of 20-win teams; watched in awe as Northern Michigan goaltender Atte Tolvanen shattered league record books and made a run at NCAA history; featured a Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist and a pair of All-Americans; applauded Senior CLASS Award® winner Brendan Harms of Bemidji State, along with an NCAA-high three student-athletes among the finalists; saluted Minnesota State defenseman Daniel Brickley for representing the U.S. at the 2017 IIHF World Championships; and, cheered on the 31 players -- from all 10 member institutions -- who signed professional contracts (including seven who inked NHL deals).
From the Last Frontier to Ohio, WCHA member institutions boast strong – and sometimes unique – hockey heritages:
• Alabama Huntsville is one of only two Division I hockey teams in the southern United States. Led by current Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot (who set the franchise single-season record for wins last year), the Chargers made the NCAA tournament as recently as 2010.
• Alaska Anchorage goes back to 1993 with the WCHA and boasts Jay Beagle, Curtis Glencross, and Mike Peluso as alumni who made it to the NHL.
• Alaska traces its varsity hockey program to 1925 and counts more than 100 alumni that have played professional hockey, including 2015-16 NHL All-Rookie Team sensation Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues.
• Bemidji State, which advanced to the 2009 Division I Frozen Four and counts current Philadelphia Flyers winger Matt Read among its NHL successes, captured its first MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champion in 2016-17.
• Bowling Green, which has three-straight 20-win seasons and ranks 14th nationally with 72 victories over that span, was also a longtime CCHA power – including the 1984 national championship.
• Ferris State became the first MacNaughton Cup champion of the reconfigured WCHA in 2014, won the 2016 Broadmoor Trophy and has appeared in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament twice in the last four years.
• Lake Superior State, which skated one of the NCAA's top-scoring groups of underclassmen in 2016-17, was a dynasty during the late 1980s and early 1990s – winning three NCAA championships during a seven-year span.
• Michigan Tech, a charter member of the WCHA and a three-time national champion, was MacNaughton Cup co-winners in 2016 and Broadmoor Trophy champions in 2017, and ranks fourth nationally with 75 wins over the last three seasons.
• Minnesota State, the 2015 MacNaughton Cup and Broadmoor Trophy champions, and the 2016 Cup co-champs, has built a national powerhouse with five-straight 20-win seasons, tying for fourth nationally with 122 victories over that span.
• Northern Michigan, which has split its history between the CCHA and WCHA, and was a member of the WCHA when it won the NCAA championship in 1991, enters a new era in 2017-18 under first-year head coach Grant Potulny.
With 10 high-quality institutions committed to excellence both on and off the ice, playing in front of the sport's best fans, this much is certain: The WCHA, like it has been for seven decades, remains a premier conference on the ice, while providing an exemplary student-athlete and fan experience.
The WCHA – Tradition Starts Here.