The American Collegiate Hockey Association (1986-1989) (ACHA) was an American college ice hockey conference from 1986[1] to 1989 made of varsity programs from Division I and Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The league disbanded after three seasons because it did not meet the minimum number of members required to be recognized by the NCAA.[2] The American Collegiate Hockey Association that started in 1991 and governs a national collection of club hockey teams is unaffiliated with the ACHA (1986-1989).


The ACHA was formed by two NCAA Division I independent programs, University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Kent State University Golden Flashes, one NCAA Division III independent program, Lake Forest College Foresters, and one NAIA program, University of Michigan–Dearborn Wolves. The four schools shared a common philosophy on athletics, education, and finances.[3]

Michigan-Dearborn had sponsored varsity hockey since the 1979-1980 season, but had been left without a governing organization to play under when the NAIA stopped sanctioning hockey after the 1983-1984 season. Notre Dame had dropped varsity hockey after the 1983-1984 season for financial reasons, but restarted the program for the 1985-1986 season as a non-scholarship program.[4] Kent State started varsity hockey for the 1980-1981 season, but with limited scholarships (eight total)[2] they were unable to gain conference affiliation in Division I.

Plans for the league started during the 1985-1986 hockey season.[5] Plans were finalized in June 1986. The University of Alabama-Huntsville was interested in joining the league but league members were concerned about travel costs.[5] Other schools that were interested in possibly joining the league were University of Dayton, Iowa State University, Lawrence University, and St. Norbert College[5]

Regular Season and Tournament FormatsEdit

Each team played 12 league games, two home, two away against each league member. The tournament was a four-team, single elimination format with hosting rotated year-to-year among conference members.


In September 1988, the Kent State hockey program was embroiled in a hazing incident that sent a freshman player who was near death[6] to the hospital and resulted in charges against 12 members of the KSU hockey team.[7] In response, President Michael Schwartz made the decision to cancel hockey for the 1988-1989 season.[7] The school would not commit to bringing back varsity hockey until after the 1988-1989 school year. Before the season, Notre Dame had announced that 1988-1989 would be its last season in the ACHA so they could pursue playing a full independent schedule against other Division I teams.[8] These developments left just two teams committed to the conference, both of which were not NCAA Division I sanctioned. The league was disbanded after the 1988-1989 season.[9]


Notre Dame went back to being a Division I independent program and, eventually, joined the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) in 1992. Kent State regained its varsity hockey program for the 1989-1990 season.[2] The Golden Flashes applied for and were accepted to the CCHA with the Irish for the 1992-1993 season. Kent State dropped hockey in 1994. Lake Forest went back to playing an NCAA Division III schedule and joined that division's Northern Collegiate Hockey Association in 1992. Michigan-Dearborn dropped varsity hockey following the 1989-1990 season after failing to gain political and financial support for a move to NCAA Division I in hockey.[10]

Champions Edit

Regular SeasonEdit

  • 1986-1987 Lake Forest
  • 1987-1988 Michigan-Dearborn
  • 1988-1989 Michigan-Dearborn

Tournament ChampionsEdit

Year Winning team Coach Losing team Coach Score Location Venue Reference
1987 Michigan-Dearborn Dave Rosteck Notre Dame Charles "Lefty" Smith 6-4 Notre Dame, Indiana Athletic and Convocation Center [11]
1988 Notre Dame Ric Schafer Michigan-Dearborn Tom Anastos 5-2 Dearborn, Michigan University of Michigan-Dearborn Fieldhouse [12]
1989 Canceled* Kent, Ohio Kent State University Ice Arena [13]


^  The ACHA tournament was scheduled to take place on the campus of Kent State University. When Kent State canceled their season, the tournament was canceled.[13]


  1. Stephen W. Nagy, “Ice hockey team joins new league” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ July 16, 1986.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Thomas Moore, “The Hockey Team: One Year Later,” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ September 21, 1989.
  3. Bob Kemper, “86-87 hockey preview,” ‘’The Observer,’’ October 29, 1986.
  4. Tom Reale, “Know your enemy: Notre Dame,” ‘’Without a Peer,’’ June 1, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Stephen W. Nagy, “Ice hockey team joins new league,” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ July 16, 1986.
  6. Bill Bush and Mitch McKenney, “Player was near death,” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ September 27, 1988.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bill Bush and Mitch McKenney, “Schwartz kills hockey season,” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ September 22, 1988.
  8. Bernie Gearon, “KSU hockey cancellation devastates league,” ‘’Daily Kent Stater,’’ September 30, 1988.
  9. Steve Crowe, “'Little M' seeks the big time,” ‘’Detroit Free Press,’’ October 12, 1989.
  10. Scott Walton, “Sports in jeopardy for Michigan-Dearborn,” ‘’Detroit Free Press,’’ April 5, 1990.
  11. , “Headliners,” ‘’Michigan Alumnus,’’ May/June 1987.
  12. Chris Zielinski, “Wolves' miracle season ends,” ‘’The Michigan Journal,’’ March 9, 1988.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Ken Prochnau, “'Wolves ACHA Champs!,” ‘’The Michigan Journal,’’ February 8, 1989.
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