The frenzied crowds at Ferris State make Ewigleben Arena one of college hockey's most revered venues.
Minnesota State has become a national power, tying for third in the NCAA with 100 wins over the last four seasons.
The "Madhouse on Mercer" has had a lot to celebrate, as Bowling Green has topped 20 wins in back-to-back seasons.
Michigan Tech's current success is evoking memories of the Huskies' championship-laden past.
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 65th season of competition in 2016-17.
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.
No collegiate athletic conference – in any sport – can top the impressive list of national scale accomplishments of the WCHA. Since 1951, teams representing this Association 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. 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 fourth year 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, 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 the past three years have shown, while some of the names may be different, WCHA fans continue to enjoy all of the intensity, excitement and passion that have long been league hallmarks. The 2015-16 season saw the WCHA represented in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament; place three teams in the final USCHO.com top-20 poll; stand as one of only two D-I conferences to have four, 20-win teams; feature a Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist; recognize two student-athletes who earned candidacy for the Senior CLASS Award; and, applaud 33 players who signed professional contracts.
From the Last Frontier to Ohio, WCHA schools also 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 New York Rangers goalie Cam Talbot, the Chargers made the NCAA tournament as recently as 2010.
• Alaska Anchorage goes back to 1993 as a member of the WCHA and boasts Jay Beagle, Curtis Glencross, and Mike Peluso as alumni who made it to the National Hockey League.
• Alaska traces its varsity hockey program to 1925 and 100 alumni of the school have gone on to play professional hockey, including 2015-16 NHL All-Rookie Team sensation Colton Parayko of the St. Louis Blues.
• Bemidji State carried a strong Division II tradition into Division I and in 2009 made it to the Frozen Four. Current Philadelphia Flyers winger Matt Read is among the Beavers' NHL success stories.
• Bowling Green, which ranks 13th in the country with 45 wins over the past two seasons and enters the 2016-17 campaign with a trio of NHL draft picks on its roster, 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 three years.
• Lake Superior State, which skated one of the NCAA's top-scoring freshman classes in 2015-16, was a dynasty during the late 1980s and early 1990s – winning three NCAA championships during a seven-year span.
• Michigan Tech was a charter member of the WCHA and has competed in the conference in all but three of its seasons. In 10 of its 11 NCAA tournament appearances, the Huskies made it to the Frozen Four – while winning the national title in 1962, 1965, and 1975. The 2016 MacNaughton Cup co-champions are fourth in the country with 52 wins the last two seasons.
• Minnesota State, the 2015 MacNaughton Cup and Broadmoor Trophy champions, and the 20016 Cup co-champs, has built a national powerhouse and is tied for third in the country with 100 wins over the last four seasons.
• Northern Michigan has split its history between the CCHA and WCHA and was a member of the WCHA when it won the NCAA championship in 1991.
With 10 terrific institutions committed to excellence both on and off the ice, one thing appears certain for the WCHA: the league, like it has been for the better part of seven decades, will continue to remain a premier conference on the ice for years to come, while continuing to provide an exemplary student-athlete and fan experience.
The WCHA – Tradition Starts Here.