Hockey in Arizona is a very delicate topic right now…NHL hockey, that is. College hockey, on the other hand, is a topic that’s full of enthusiasm in the Grand Canyon State, as Arizona State University prepares for it’s first ever Division I hockey season.
The school announced that they will be hosting an inaugural Desert Hockey Classic, a tournament that will bring Division I hockey to Arizona for the first time.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to expand ASU’s first home NCAA Division I weekend into the Desert Hockey Classic with three prestigious Division I hockey schools,” coach Greg Powers said, per azcentral.com. “To expose Arizona hockey fans to the highest level of college hockey in one weekend is incredibly exciting.”
The tournament will mark the only games played in Arizona this season, as the Sun Devils will only play road games as a part of their independent schedule for next season.
However, the Arizona tournament will certainly give ASU hockey fans a sweet taste of what the future will hold for Sun Devils hockey.
“This will be a precursor to what Arizona hockey fans can see every home weekend at ASU leading into the future as we have some incredible, big-name opponents committed to traveling to Arizona State in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons,” Powers said, per azcentral.com. “We are looking to make this the first of many very successful Desert Hockey Classics.”
Those “big-name opponents” include the 2013 National Champion Yale Bulldogs, the Michigan Tech Huskies, who made the NCAA tournament last season, and the UConn Huskies.
The tournament does not have an announced location yet, but it will be held on the weekend of January 8th.
— Sun Devil Hockey (@SunDevilHockey) June 12, 2015
This is a big step for ASU hockey, as it will give the school it’s first taste of D-I action. With the institution of the program, Arizona State is eager to make ice hockey a profitable sport for the school, just as Penn State did recently. In their first season at their new hockey arena, Penn State’s hockey program made nearly one million dollars for the school, becoming it’s third most profitable sport.
Arizona State will look to follow in it’s footsteps, while adding a truly unique and unprecedented hockey program to Division I. The hope is that fans will pour into the seats at the Desert Hockey Classic, taste the sweetness that is college hockey (many of whom will be tasting it for the first time), then crave more, and flood the gates for next season.
The Arizona Coyotes’ future may be in jeopardy, but Arizona State’s is looking bright.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!