Minnesota won its second-consecutive NCAA title in 2016, the Gophers' fourth in the last five years and the program's record seventh national championship.
Minnesota Duluth (five NCAA titles; last in 2010) and Wisconsin (four NCAA crowns; last in 2011) round out the WCHA's championship trifecta.
Monique Lamoureux, who still ranks third in WCHA history with 265 points, has become a fixture on the U.S. National Team.
• 16 National Championships in 16 years
• 6 Patty Kazmaier Award Winners
• 86 All-Americans
• Hundreds of Olympic and international team heroes
• Countless young women inspired
Home to a record 16 national championships since its founding in 1999, the women's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is college hockey's premier conference.
Entering its 18th year of competition in 2016-17, the WCHA consists of its seven original members – Bemidji State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State University, the Ohio State University, St. Cloud State University and the University of Wisconsin – along with the University of North Dakota, which joined in 2004. All eight member schools are among the finest institutions of higher learning in the country, offering the very best in both educational and athletic environments for the more than 200 student-athletes who compete annually in the league.
Since its founding, the women's WCHA has set standards of excellence unmatched by any other Division I conference – in any sport. Including the first season of 1999-2000, teams representing this Association have captured a record 16 national championships – including 15 of a possible 16 NCAA Women's Frozen Four crowns. WCHA teams have also produced six Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Winners and 86 All-Americans.
The 2015-16 campaign was no exception, with Minnesota winning its seventh national title and WCHA players earning six of the 12 spots on All-America teams. The league also: Comprised half of the 2016 Frozen Four field; tied for the NCAA lead with four teams in the final opinion polls; featured both the USCHO National Player and Rookie of the Year, along with the Women's Hockey Commissioners Association Rookie of the Year; and, celebrated a Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award top-3 finalist and a NCAA-high five top-10 finalists.
The Association continues to craft an indelible legacy on the international and professional hockey scene, with scores of alumni, current players and coaches enjoying success in such prestigious settings as the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF World Championship, the 4 Nations Cup, and both the CWHL and NWHL. During the 2015-16 season alone, thirty-two current or former WCHA student-athletes, representing seven member institutions and all four competing countries, participated in the 2015 4 Nations Cup. In addition, thirty-six players with WCHA ties, representing seven member institutions and competing for six different countries, participated in the 2016 IIHF World Championships. Twenty-six WCHA alumni played professionally last season, with five former players skating for the CWHL Clarkson Cup champion Calgary Inferno and four league greats helping the Boston Pride win the first-ever NWHL Isobel Cup.
Off the ice, women's WCHA student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom and in the community. Hundreds have earned WCHA Scholar-Athlete and All-WCHA Academic Team accolades for their exemplary academic performance. In recognition of her efforts as one of the nation's top goaltenders, while also carrying a 4.0 grade-point average en route to graduating from a combined degree program and remaining tireless in her devotion to the local community, North Dakota's Shelby Amsley-Benzie was a nominee for the 2016 NCAA Woman of the Year Award. With stellar hockey being played in every rink, every night throughout the season, the women's WCHA continues to lead the country in attendance, as it has done every year since its inaugural campaign. The league's .800 nonconference winning percentage (35-8-2) in 2015-16 was once again – far and away – best in the NCAA.
Each league season concludes with the top postseason conference tournament in women's college hockey – the WCHA Final Face-Off. Conducted annually after the conclusion of the regular season and the first round of league playoffs, the WCHA Final Face-Off routinely brings together many of the nation's elite programs to compete for the league playoff championship and the conference's automatic berth into the national tournament.
A closer look at the eight member institutions that make up college hockey's premier conference:
- Bemidji State set a program record with 22 wins in 2015-16, has 43 victories over the last two seasons and counts U.S. National Team star forward Stephanie Anderson among its recent alumni.
- Minnesota is one of the country's elite programs, with two Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners (including U.S. Olympian Amanda Kessel), 32 All-Americans and a record seven national championships - including two straight and four in the last five seasons.
- Minnesota Duluth, which boasts five national championships, 15 All-Americans and numerous international stars in its storied history, appears poised to return to greatness after a Final Face-Off appearance in 2016.
- Minnesota State is entering a new era under second-year head coach and 1980 U.S. Olympian John Harrington. The Mavericks, in a newly refurbished home arena, skated 21 underclassmen in 2015-16.
- North Dakota has become a fixture in the national rankings, has won 106 games over the past five years, and has produced such notable players as U.S. Olympic stars Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.
- Ohio State, which counts Team Canada and CWHL sensation Natalie Spooner among its alumni, is building a new tradition under the leadership of first-year head coach Nadine Muzerall, who brings a national championship résumé as a player and assistant coach at Minnesota.
- St. Cloud State showed it is a program on the rise in 2015-16, posting its most league wins and overall victories in six years, while also earning its highest finish in the league standings since the 2009-10 season.
- Wisconsin has become one of the nation's dominant programs under head coach and 1980 U.S. Olympian Mark Johnson, winning four NCAA championships, producing four Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners and 26 All-Americans, and developing some of the sport's brightest stars (including Brianna Decker, Alex Rigsby and Hilary Knight).
The numbers and accolades speak for themselves regarding the WCHA – a great conference with a proud history that, by any measure, is better than ever.
The WCHA – Tradition Starts Here.