The International Collegiate Hockey Association (ICHA) was a hockey conference operating in the NAIA. Most of the teams have since gone on to bigger and better things, either in the NCAA or CIS. Getting information on this league is hard. However, there is a bit of an archive of old media stories, which are mostly (but not completely) consistent with one another.
- Bemidji State Beavers
- Lake Superior Lakers
- Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets
- Lakehead Norwesters
- St. Cloud State Huskies
- St. Scholastica Saints
Conference Champions 1966 ? 1967 Lakehead 1968 Lake Superior State 1969 Bemidji State 1970 Bemidji State/Lake Superior State 1971 Bemidji State 1972 Lake Superior State 1973 Bemidji State/Lake Superior State 1974 Bemidji State 1975 St. Scholastica 1976 Bemidji State 1977 Bemidji State 1978 Bemidji State 1979 Bemidji State 1980 Bemidji State
- Quote: Laker Hockey began in 1966-67, and LSSU was part of the International Collegiate Hockey Association with Lakehead, Bemidji State and Wisconsin from 1967 to 1973. LSSU joined the CCHA in 1972-73, which was the league’s second year of existence.
- Quote: The Lakers joined the International Collegiate Hockey Association (ICHA) its second season and stayed in the league through the 1973-74 season. The Lakers swept their first league series in program history with two high scoring games against Lakehead, winning 9-4 on November 18, 1967 and 8-6 the following night. The pattern continued as Lake Superior swept through the regular season and advanced to the programs first ever post-season tournament appearance in the 1968 NAIA Ice Hockey Tournament. The Lakers won their first ever playoff game in deciding fashion 7-1 over Gustavus Adolphus College. Lake Superior's run was ended in the 1968 NAIA Championship game when they lost to Bemidji State 4-5. History repeated itself the following season when Lake Superior again fell to Bemidji in the 1969 NAIA Championship 5-6. The Lakers finished the season with a record of 21-5-1, the only losses on the season coming at the hands of the Beavers.
- In the 1969-70 season Lake Superior again advanced through the ICHA regular season and the ICHA to the 1970 NAIA Tournament. Lake Superior advanced to the championship game against Bemidji State for the third straight season with a dominating 22-3 win over Alaska Methodist. The Lakers fell to Bemidji State 4-7, the third straight loss to Bemidji State in the NAIA Championship game.
- The 1970-71 season marked the first season since the inaugural 1966-67 season that the Lakers failed to make the NAIA tournament, finishing the season with a record of 13-9-4. The Lakers joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) as one of the founding members of the league in the 1971 and began play in the CCHA for the 1972-73 season. Lake Superior also remained in the ICHA and NAIA. The Lakers picked up their first CCHA victory on November 4, 1972 when they beat Saint Louis University 7-3. The team qualified for the NAIA Championship Tournament after not receiving a bid in the past season. The Lakers defeated Wisconsin State 12-2 and defeated Gustavus Adolphus 9-3 to win the program's first ever National Championship. Lake Superior fell to Lakehead in the 1973 NAIA Championship Tournament, marking the Lakers first post season loss not in the Championship game, but rebounded the next day with an 11-3 win over Gustavus Adolphus for the NAIA Third Place game. Following the 1973-74 season Ron Mason left to become the head coach at Bowling Green, Mason was replaced by Rick Comley.
- The 1973-74 season marked a historic year for the Lakers ice hockey program. Lake Superior State finished the regular season and qualified for the 1974 NAIA Championship Tournament. The Lakers advanced to the NAIA Final Four with a 7-1 victory over Concordia College (MN), then picked up a deciding 9-2 win over St. Thomas to advance into the NAIA Championship against rival Bemidji State. The Lakers won their second NAIA Championship with a 4-1 victory over the Beavers. The championship was not the end of the season, as the Lakers also received a bid to the CCHA Tournament. Lake Superior won their first ever CCHA playoff game against Western Michigan but fell in the CCHA Championship to Saint Louis 3-8. The Lakers also advanced to the National Invitational Tournament held in Saint Louis, Missouri but fell 2-3 to Vermont and 1-9 to CCHA rival Saint Louis. The 1973-74 also marked Lake Superiors last season as a member of the NAIA for ice hockey.
- Quote: BSU and LSSU met three times in the NAIA title game -- in 1968, 1969 and 1970 -- and remained in the ICHL until the 1972-74 season, when the Lakers made the jump to Division I and the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
- Since going their separate ways, the Beavers and Lakers have both seen success, albeit at different levels. BSU went on to dominate Division II and III before going to Division I in 1999.
- LSSU, on the other hand, moved to Division I and found their stride in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Lakers won their first national title in 1988, defeating St. Lawrence 4-3 in the thrilling overtime final. They would win two more, in 1992 and 1994.
- Quote: The 1966-67 season saw the Beavers with a new head coach and a new conference, the ICHA. The four team league consisting of: Bemidji State, Lake Superior State, Wisconsin-Superior and Lakehead (Ont.) saw the Beavers take the league title with a 10-2 record (13-5-1 overall). Peters would win his first game behind the Beaver bench with a 3-1 win at Lake Superior State. His first home game would also be a victory, a 5-1 win over St. Cloud State.
- After the Beavers conducted their final game on the old 19th Street/College Rink [held on February 4, 1967 with an 8-1 win over Wisconsin-Superior] the Beavers would move into their newly constructed rink at theBSU Fieldhouse. And with it, another first for the Green and White with the ability to battle for a National Championship at the NAIA level. BSU would only go 6-6 in ICHA play, but would notch a 16-8 overall record. The Beavers would be invited to the NAIA tournament in St. Paul, MN, where they would be matched up with Boston State in the semifinals. Boston State would put up little fight as the Beavers would cruise to an 11-0 victory. That would set up a Championship match with ICHA rival Lake Superior State, who had defeated the Beavers four times during the regular season. BSU would get sweet revenge as they would win their first National Title with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Lakers. Terry Bergstrom, Terry Burns, Barry Dillion, Bryan Grand and Jim McElmury would be named the first of 80 All-Americans for Bemidji State. History was just getting started for the Beavers.
- The following season, the Beavers picked up right where they left off. Going 23-2, with an 11-1 ICHA Championship record, the Beavers were again invited to the NAIA National Championship in Sault St. Marie, MI. In the first round, the Green dispensed of Salem State 14-2 to advance to the title match with Lake Superior State. Even though the Lakers were on home ice, the Beavers were able to take home their second straight title with a 6-2 victory. The 1969-70 season saw the same results with the Beavers again winning the ICHA title with a 24-3 overall record and a third trip to the NAIA Championships. Again in Sault St. Marie, MI, the Beavers took out Gustavus 5-2 before claiming their third NAIA title, again stopping Lake Superior State 7-4. One game of note during the 69-70 season was a Beaver victory of Division I North Dakota 7-5.
- 1970-71 saw the Beavers win their fourth straight ICHA and NAIA titles. Compiling a 20-7-1 overall record and had the Beavers hosting the National Tournament in Bemidji. Bemidji would thump Augsburg 12-1 in the semis to set up an all ICHA Championship where they would face Lakehead (Ont.). The Beavers protected their home ice with a 6-2 victory. The 1971-72 season saw the Beavers miss their chance at a fifth straight National Title, but they did see two of their own, Jim McElmury and Charlie Brown help Team USA to a Silver Medal at the Sapporo Olympics.
- As the 70s continued, the Beavers would continue to make their mark in the NAIA. In 1972-73, the Beavers would again win the ICHA Championship with a 23-6-1 record and again move onto the NAIA Tournament. Hosted in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the Beavers would take out Boston State 8-1 and Gustavus 6-3 to set up a Championship match with host Lakehead. The Beavers would take the title with a 3-2 overtime victory. 1973-74 would see the Green and White host the NAIA championship, only to have them fall 4-1 to Lake Superior State in the Championship game. 1974-75 would be the first of only three losing seasons the Beavers would have under the guidance of Coach Peters. The Beavers would return to the 1976 NAIA Tournament, but would only be able to take home fourth place honors, but that would start another string of NAIA tournament appearances. 1977, the Beavers would garner third place honors, 1978 would see them return with second place honors and 1979, they would close out the decade with the NAIA Championship. During the decade of the 1970s, Bemidji would notch an overall 210-77-9 record with four National Titles.
- Quote: "When I got here, we were in the International Collegiate Hockey Association with four schools that were serious about hockey: Bemidji State, Superior in Wisconsin, Lakehead in Thunder Bay [Ontario] and Lake Superior State, Basch said. "One season and I said, 'This is ridiculous; we're going to be an independent.' "
- Quote: The Norwesters skated from 1965-66 to 1984-85. For 19 seasons, 236 skaters and 40 goalies donned the Blue and White jersey and went out on the ice to play their best and represent Lakehead. The Norwesters achieved some excellent results and they first participated in the ICHA (International Collegiate Hockey Association) from 1965-66 to 1976-77; playing against American competition such as St. Cloud State. Beginning in the 1972-73 season, they also began playing in GPAC (Great Plains Athletic Conference), where they played against what are now Canada West teams like Manitoba and Saskatchewan. While playing in GPAC in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the team also participated in a local Thunder Bay league against the local Senior A Thunder Bay Twins, Junior A teams, and Intermediate men’s teams.
- Lakehead twice was first in the ICHA (66-67, 70-71) and placed second three times. They also were runners-up twice in the NAIA U.S. National Finals in 1970-71 and 1972-73; both times losing to now NCAA Division 1 Team Bemidji State. The 1966-67 ICHA championship team was inducted onto the Lakehead Athletics Wall of Fame in 1999. In 1972-73, Lakehead was GPAC champion and this was the season where they made their only appearance at the CIAU national championships where they posted an 0-2 record; losing by 3-1 and 9-3 scores to Alberta.
- Quote: He led the Norwesters to an International Collegiate Hockey Association (ICHA) title in 1966-67. Akervall also led Lakehead to their only Great Plains Athletics Conference Championship in 1972-73 and their first ever CIAU (now CIS) national championships appearance. That same season saw the Norwesters also place second at the NAIA Division I championships against then ICHA archrival Bemidji State (now NCAA Division I).
- Akervall (96-82-6) held the record for most wins by a Lakehead hockey coach until this season when Lakehead Thunderwolves Head Coach Pete Belliveau set the new mark.
- Quote: During the 1972-73 season, Lakehead’s men’s hockey team made their mark both north and south of the Canada-USA border. They competed in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) with other Canadian university programs while facing off with American rivals in the International Collegiate Hockey Association (ICHA).
- The Norwesters were GPAC Champions, building a 9-3 record in their twelve games against teams from the University of Winnipeg, Brandon University, and the University of Manitoba.
- In the ICHA, Lakehead faced stiffer competition with rivals Lake Superior State, Bemidji State, and Wisconsin State University. Akervall’s team went 4-8 against their US competition.