- 17 National Championships in 20 years
- 7 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award Winners
- 101 All-Americans
- 174 Olympians
- Countless young women inspired
Beginning its third decade of competition in 2019-20, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is home to a record 17 women's national championship teams since 1999. It has also produced seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners, 101 All-Americans and 174 Olympians. Women's collegiate hockey's most successful conference, the WCHA boasts seven of the top programs in the sport.
The Women's League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the top league in all of women's collegiate hockey, proudly celebrates its 21st season of competition in 2019-20, its first under the leadership of Commissioner Jennifer Flowers.
Founded in 1999, the WCHA has been at the forefront of growing and raising the profile of women's hockey nationwide as the league continues to churn out national champions, Patty Kazmaier winners, Olympians and professional players competing around the globe.
The league consists of seven premier institutions that offer the best in both educational and athletic environments - Bemidji State University (Beavers), University of Minnesota (Gophers), University of Minnesota Duluth (Bulldogs), Minnesota State University (Mavericks), The Ohio State University (Buckeyes), St. Cloud State University (Huskies) and University of Wisconsin (Badgers).
A closer look at the seven member institutions that make up college hockey's premier conference:
|Bemidji State, which set a program record with 22 wins in 2015-16 and has 84 victories over the last five seasons, counts U.S. National Team forward Stephanie Anderson and WCHA career saves leader Brittni Mowat among its recent alumnae.|
|Minnesota is one of the country's elite programs, with two Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners (including U.S. Olympic gold medalist Amanda Kessel), 35 All-Americans and a record seven national championships – including four in the last eight seasons..|
|Minnesota Duluth, which boasts five national championships, 16 All-Americans and numerous international stars in its storied history, returns 2018 U.S. Olympic hero Maddie Rooney to its net for the 2019-20 campaign.|
|Minnesota State’s exciting new era under fourth-year head coach and 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medalist John Harrington continued to move forward in 2018-19, as the Mavericks' late-season run included a victory over an eventual NCAA Frozen Four participant.|
|Ohio State, the alma mater of Team Canada star Natalie Spooner, established itself as a budding national power in 2017-18 with a program-record 24 wins, its first-ever Frozen Four appearance and a No. 4 ranking in the final polls.|
|St. Cloud State, which welcomes new head coach Steve Macdonald in 2019-20, is backstopped by the goaltending duo of Emma Polusny and Swiss Olympian Janine Alder, who combined to stop 1,435 shots a season ago, the second-highest team total in the NCAA.|
|Wisconsin has become one of the country's dominant programs under head coach and 1980 U.S. Olympian Mark Johnson, winning five NCAA championships, producing five Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners and 33 All-Americans, and developing some of the sport's brightest stars (including Brianna Decker, Alex Rigsby, Hilary Knight, Ann-Renée Desbiens and Annie Pankowski).|
No women's hockey conference can top the impressive list of national accomplishments of the WCHA. Since 1998, member teams have earned a record 17 NCAA and AWCHA national championships while finishing as the national runner-up seven times. Since the inception of the NCAA women's ice hockey championship in 2001, the WCHA has won 16 titles, landed at least one team in every Frozen Four and iced two or more teams in 14 Frozen Fours.
The league has also produced seven Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winners as well an additional 18 student-athletes who were among the Top-3 finalists for the award.
Eighty-three WCHA student-athletes have made 174 appearances in the Olympic Games, with 27 earning Gold medals, since women's ice hockey made its first appearance in the Games in 2002 in Salt Lake City.
Since 2002, every team to medal at the Olympics has had at least one player with WCHA ties on its roster.
At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang South Korea, 37 current or former WCHA players competed. The group included Gold medal winners Hannan Brandt, Dani Cameranesi, Brianne Decker, Megan Duggan, Amanda Kessel, Hilary Knight, Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson, Monique Lamoureux-Morando, Gigi Marvin, Sidney Morin, Kelly Pannek, Alex Rigsby, Maddie Rooney and Lee Stecklein of the United States.
The Silver medal-winning Canadian team featured WCHA stars Emily Clark, Ann-Renee Desbiens, Haley Irwin, Brigette Lacquette, Jocelyne Larocque, Meaghan Mikkelson, Sara Nurse, Natalie Spooner and Blayre Turnbull. Bronze medalist Finland boasted a roster that included WCHA players Mira Jalosuo, Michelle Karvinen, Emma Nuutinen, Noora Räty and Eveliina Suonpaa.
WCHA players have been recognized as All-Americans 101 times in league history, including three-time selections Hannah Brandt, Natalie Darwitz, Brianna Decker, Hilary Knight, Monique Lamoureux, Annie Pankowski, Noora Räty, Maria Rooth, Lee Stecklein and Krissy Wendell.
When it comes to coaching, WCHA teams and players have benefited from the expertise of some of the best minds in the game. Current bench bosses Mark Johnson (Wisconsin) and Brad Frost (Minnesota) are the nation's winningest active coaches and their respective career winning percentages rank among the top five in NCAA history.
WCHA coaches have won 11 of the 22 AHCA Women's Division I National Coach of the Year awards presented since the honor's inception in 1998.
Crowds at WCHA games are always among the most enthusiastic in all of hockey. The Top-10 most-attended women's ice hockey games in NCAA history, including a record 15,359 fans who turned out for the Wisconsin-St. Cloud State game on Jan. 14, 2017 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., featured WCHA teams.
In January 2019, a pair of WCHA schools - Bemidji State and Minnesota State - met outdoors on the shores of Lake Bemidji in northern Minnesota as part of the annual Hockey Day Minnesota festivities in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Ohio State and Minnesota will take part in the 2020 edition of HDM with the Buckeyes and Gophers meeting on an outdoor rink at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis on Jan. 18, 2020.
The WCHA provides fans the opportunity to watch league action throughout the season. Every game hosted by Bemidji State, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State and St. Cloud State, along with the WCHA Final Faceoff and select games hosted by Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin (shown on BTN Plus), will be streamed live and on demand exclusively on FloHockey.tv.
The semifinals and final of the WCHA Final Faceoff will again air live on Fox Sports North, March 8-9 from Ridder Arena in Minneapolis.
With seven high-quality institutions producing leaders and champions on and off the ice, and playing in front of the sport's best fans, this much is certain: The WCHA - like it has for two decades - will remain elite on the ice, while growing the game by providing an exemplary student-athlete and fan experience.