Along with league commissioner Kemp, the conference family is also pleased to welcome two new head coaches for 2014-15 in Jim Scanlan at Bemidji State and Eric Rud at St. Cloud State.
The women's WCHA was founded in 1999 with seven original members in Bemidji State, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Minnesota State, Ohio State, St. Cloud State and Wisconsin. For the 2004-05 season, the league added North Dakota to bring membership to its current eight institutions.
The eight universities that make up the WCHA women's family are among the finest institutions of higher learning in the country. They offer the very best in both educational and athletic environments for the more than 200 student-athletes who compete annually in the league.
The members, with enrollments, are: Bemidji State University (5,360), the University of Minnesota (50,883), University of Minnesota Duluth (11,806), Minnesota State University, Mankato (15,709), University of North Dakota (14,326), Ohio State University (59,091), St. Cloud State University (16,245) and University of Wisconsin (42,595).
WINNING NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
No women's Division 1 collegiate conference – in any sport – can top the list of national scale accomplishments of the WCHA. Including the first season of 1999- 2000, teams representing the women's WCHA have captured a record 14 national championships (13 NCAA Women's Frozen Fours and 1 AWCHA title) in 15 seasons.
The WCHA also owns an enviable reputation for producing hundreds of players and coaches who have enjoyed successes in international competitions such as the Olympic Winter Games, the IIHF Women's World Championship, and the 4 Nations' Cup.
In the 2014 Olympic Winter Games held in Sochi, Russia in February, five Former WCHA skaters on Team Canada won Olympic gold medals, silver medalist USA had 11 former and current WCHA Stars and one former league player earned bronze with Switzerland. Winning gold medals were forward Natalie Spooner of Ohio State, defenseman Meghan Mikkelson of Wisconsin and Jocelyne Larocque of Minnesota Duluth and ex-UMD forwards Haley Irwin and Caroline Ouelette, who was team captain. In all, 34 current and former WCHA players competed in the Olympic Winter Games, with North Dakota's Michelle Karvinen being named the top forward in the tournament while Minnesota's Amanda Kessel and Megan Bozek and Wisconsin's Hilary Knight were All-Stars.
ALL-AMERICANS AND SCHOLAR-ATHLETES
Since it's founding in 1999, some 70 WCHA member-team skaters have earned recognition as All-Americans. Most recently, in 2013-14, four WCHA member-team players were honored as CCM Hockey Div. 1 Ice Hockey All-Americans. Named to the First Team were goaltender Alex Rigsby of Wisconsin, defenseman Rachel Ramsey of Minnesota, and forward Hannah Brandt of Minnesota while Second Team All-American acclaim was bestowed upon Gophers' defenseman Milica McMillen.
Off the ice, 52 players, representing all eight institutions, earned prestigious WCHA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2013-14 while 91 players – again representing all eight league-member teams, earned WCHA All-Academic Team honors.
Minnesota forward Kelly Terry was honored as the WCHA Outstanding Student- Athlete of the Year for 2013-14. She produced over 30 points in each of her four seasons at UM, had a grade-point average of 3.42 majoring in Biology, and intended to go to medical school in hopes of becoming a doctor. She was a WCHA Scholar-Athlete in both 2013 and 2014 and was a three-time member of the WCHA All-Academic Team.
PATTY KAZMAIER MEMORIAL AWARD
The WCHA has had six of its players earn the highly-coveted Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award since the league's founding in 1999. Those recipients have been Minnesota forward Krissy Wendell in 2005, Wisconsin forward Sara Bauer in 2006, Wisconsin goaltender Jessie Vetter in 2009, Wisconsin forward Meghan Duggan in 2011, Wisconsin forward Brianna Decker in 2012, and Minnesota forward Amanda Kessel in 2013.
An award of The USA Hockey Foundation, the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award recognizes the accomplishments of the most outstanding player in NCAA Div. 1 women's hockey each season. Selection criteria includes outstanding individual and team skills, sportsmanship, performance in the clutch, personal character, competitiveness and a love of hockey. Consideration is also given to academic achievement and civic involvement. The Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award is named in honor of the late Patty Kazmaier, a four-year letterwinner and All-Ivy League defenseman for Princeton University from 1981-86. Patty Kazmaier-Sandt died on Feb. 15, 1990, at the age of 28 following a long struggle with a rare blood disease.