History of WCHA Expansion and Contraction
08/23/2011, 4:04pm CDT
By Minnesota Hockey Journal
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association was founded in 1951 and began play for the 1951-52 season as the Midwest Collegiate Hockey League (MCHL) with the seven original members being Colorado College, University of Denver, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, University of Minnesota and University of North Dakota.
Following the 1952-53 season, the MCHL evolved into the Western Intercollegiate Hockey League (WIHL) for 1953-54, maintaining the same original seven member teams. The conference continued play through the 1957-58 campaign.
There was no league play in 1958-59 after the WIHL was disbanded in March of 1958 for one season; however most of the original member teams continued to play home-and-home schedules. The seven original member teams then resumed formal league competition for the 1959-60 season under the new name Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
For the 1965-66 season, the WCHA expanded to eight teams by adding the University of Minnesota Duluth. The University of Wisconsin was then admitted to the WCHA for the 1969-70 season to bring membership to nine teams, followed by the addition of University of Notre Dame for the 1971-72 campaign which upped the membership to 10 teams.
Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech and Notre Dame then left the WCHA following the 1980-81 season to join the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), reducing the WCHA to six teams for the 1981-82, 1982-83 and 1983-84 campaigns.
Michigan Tech then returned to the WCHA beginning with the 1984-85 season and together with newly-admitted member Northern Michigan University, brought league membership back to eight teams.
The WCHA then admitted St. Cloud State University as a ninth member for the 1990-91 season, followed by the inclusion of University of Alaska Anchorage as a 10th member for the 1993-94 season.
Northern Michigan then left the WCHA following the 1996-97 season to rejoin the CCHA. The WCHA then expanded again for the 1999-2000 season with the admittance of Minnesota State University, Mankato as a 10th member.
Most recently, and beginning with the 2010-11 season, Bemidji State University and the University of Nebraska Omaha were granted admission to the WCHA to bring current men’s membership to 12 teams.