NCHA History

The Northern Collegiate Hockey Association was created during the early 1980s from a combination of college teams belonging to the now-defunct International College Hockey Association and the Western Intercollegiate Hockey Association. Since its inception in 1980, the league has grown into a closely-knit group of nine strong NCAA Division-III collegiate hockey programs featuring heated rivalries and intense competition.

The league officially formed on June 1, 1980, when formal approval came from the administrators of the six charter members: Bemidji State University, Mankato State University, St. Cloud State University, UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls and UW-Superior.

League play began on an unoffical basis during the 1980-81 campaign with the six teams playing an unbalanced schedule. The 1981-82 season marked the first formal schedule of NCHA play.

The College of St. Scholastica entered the league in 1983-84 to bring the team total to seven. St. Cloud State dropped out after the 1986-87 season to move to the NCAA Division I level, but with the addition of UW-Stevens Point at the same time, the number of league teams stayed at seven. St. Scholastica dropped out of the league following the 1990-91 season. More changes came at the end of the 1991-92 season when Mankato State moved to the Division I level and left the league. Lake Forest College was admitted in 1992-93. In the spring of 1994 St. Norbert College joined and St. Scholastica was readmitted to make it an eight team league. UW-Stout joined the NCHA in 1996-97. After the 1999 season Bemidji State, which was the only team remaining in the league affiliated with Division II, left the conference after moving to the Division I ranks.

At the April 10, 2000 spring meeting the NCHA added a women's division. Lake Forest, UW-Eau Claire, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point and UW-Superior were the five women's teams that joined the league. UW-Superior had started a varsity women's program in 1998-99 and UW-River Falls moved to a varsity program for the first time in 1999-2000. The Lake Forest, UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point teams were all in their first year of competition in 2000-01. Finlandia University joined the league for the 2003-04 season and Concordia-Wisconsin joined in 2007-08. Recent expansion includeds Adrian College and Marian University for the 2009-10 season as well as St. Norbert and St. Scholastica for the 2010-11 season.

"This is an exciting time for women's collegiate ice hockey and for the NCHA in general," said then NCHA President Frank O'Brien. "We look forward with great anticipation to beginning our first season with women's ice hockey."

The NCHA women originally played a four team playoff championship, held at the site of the highest seeded team. In 2007-08 the league had six teams qualify for the playoffs, with all games being played over three days at the high seed. For 2009-10, eight teams will qualify for the playoffs. The quarterfinal round features a 2+mini game format, while the semifinals and finals are single-elimination games played at the site of the highest remaining seed.

In the men's division the NCHA currently plays an 18-game balanced schedule. Each team will face the six other teams three times with a yearly rotating 2-home-1away structure. A league post-season tournament was instituted in 1985-86 and now consists of all seven teams participating. The quarterfinals use the 2+mini game series format, with the top seed receiving a bye. The semifinals are single-elimination games played at the sites of the two highest remaining seeds; the finals are also single-elimination games, played at the site of the highest remaining seed.

Year after year, the NCHA is recognized as one of the top small-college hockey leagues in the country. UW-Superior won its first men's NCAA Division. III national title in 2002. Four NCHA men's teams have won NCAA Division III titles; UW-Superior (2002), UW-River Falls (1988, 1994), UW-Stevens Point (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993) and Bemidji State (1984, 1986). Bemidji also won four NCAA Division. II titles (1993, 1994, 1995, 1997). In 1993 and 1994 it was an all NCHA final. In 1993 UW-Stevens Point beat UW-River Falls, 4-3 in overtime, and in 1994 River Falls beat UW-Superior, 6-4.

With the mission of providing quality competition for student-athletes, the NCHA's caliber of play has risen to the point where member institutions are producing both quality players and teams. Joel Otto, a member of the 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, played for Bemidji State from 1981-85. In addition to the national championships, NCHA teams also play a rugged non-conference schedule with many schools playing NCAA Division I squads.

NCHA Women's Champions

Year           Regular Season       Playoff Champion NCAA Tournament Teams Player of the Year
2010-11 UW-River Falls Adrian

Adrian (A bid, First Round)
UW-River Falls (C bid, First Round)

Kristin Faber, Sr, F, UW-Eau Claire
2009-10 Lake Forest UW-River Falls UW-River Falls (A bid, First Round) Kim Herring, So, F, Lake Forest
2008-09 UW-River Falls UW-River Falls UW-River Falls (A bid, 4th place) Nicole Grossmann, Sr, F, UW-Stevens Point
2007-08 UW-Superior UW-Superior UW-Superior (C bid, 4th place) Gina Baranzelli, Sr, F, UW-Superior
2006-07 UW-Superior UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point (C bid, 3rd place) Amber Lindner, Sr, G, UW-River Falls
2005-06 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point (C bid, 3rd place) Erin Kegley, Jr, F, UW-Superior
2004-05 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point (C bid)  
2003-04 UW-Superior UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point (C bid, Runner-Up)  
2002-03 UW-River Falls UW-River Falls UW-River Falls (C bid)  
2001-02 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point    
2000-01 UW-Superior UW-River Falls    

NCHA Men's Champions

Year           Regular Season Playoff Champion NCAA Tournament Teams Player of the Year
2010-11 St. Norbert
St. Norbert*

St. Norbert (A, Champion)
UW-Superior (C, First Round)

B.J. O'Brien, Sr, G, St. Norbert
2009-10 St. Norbert St. Norbert St. Norbert (A bid, Runner-Up) Joel Gaulrapp, Sr, F, UW-Stout
2008-09 UW-Superior UW-Stout UW-Stout (A bid, Semifinals)
UW-Superior (C bid, Quarterfinals)
St. Scholastica (C bid, First Round)
Chad Beiswenger, Sr, G, UW-Superior
2007-08 St. Norbert St. Norbert* St. Norbert (A bid, Champion)
UW-Stout (C bid, First Round)
Kyle Jones, Sr, G, St. Norbert
2006-07 St. Norbert,
UW-River Falls,
St. Norbert St. Norbert (A bid, Semifinals)
UW-River Falls (C bid, First Round)
T.J. Dahl, Jr, F, UW-River Falls
2005-06 St. Norbert UW-Superior UW-Superior (A bid, Quarterfinals)
St. Norbert (C bid, Semifinals)
Kyle Jones, So, G, St. Norbert
2004-05 St. Norbert St. Norbert    
2003-04 St. Norbert St. Norbert    
2002-03 St. Norbert St. Norbert    
2001-02 St. Norbert UW-Superior*    
2000-01 UW-Superior UW-Superior    
1999-2000 UW-Stevens Point UW-Superior    
1998-99 St. Norbert St. Norbert    
1997-98 St. Norbert St. Norbert    
1996-97 St. Norbert UW-Superior    
1995-96 UW-River Falls UW-River Falls    
1994-95 Bemidji State Bemidji State    
1993-94 UW-Superior UW-Superior*    
1992-93 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point*    
1991-92 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point    
1990-91 Mankato State,
Bemidji State
UW-Stevens Point*    
1989-90 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point*    
1988-89 UW-Stevens Point UW-Stevens Point*    
1987-88 UW-River Falls UW-River Falls*    
1986-87 Mankato State,
St. Cloud State    
Bemidji State    
1985-86 Mankato State,
Bemidji State
Bemidji State*    
1984-85 Bemidji State      
1983-84 Bemidji State*      
1982-83 Bemidji State      
1981-82 Bemidji State      

* National Champion