ASU hockey to host inaugural 'Desert Hockey Classic'

The Sun Devils will host Yale, Michigan Tech and Connecticut in January

Who says hockey can't work in the desert?

The ASU hockey team will host the inaugural "Desert Hockey Classic" this January, hosting Yale, Michigan Tech and Connecticut, Sun Devil Athletics announced Thursday.

ASU will host its first NCAA hockey games in the four-team tournament, the first Division I hockey games in the state of Arizona since NAU sponsored NCAA hockey in 1985. 

The Sun Devils announced in November that they would be moving from the club ACHA level to become a NCAA sport, moving to full-time recognition after a transitional season.

Due to ASU's lack of conference affiliation during its 2015-16 hybrid season, they will be their only home NCAA games this season.

The tournament will replace ASU's previously scheduled two-game series against Yale on Jan. 8-9, taking place on the same weekend.

ASU head coach Greg Powers spoke highly of the new tournament in his statement.

"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,” Powers said. “To expose Arizona hockey fans to the highest level of college hockey in one weekend is incredibly exciting.”

Powers said the tournament will provide an opportunity for longtime and newfound ASU hockey fans alike to see what Division I hockey would look like at the University.

“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. “We are looking to make this the first of many very successful Desert Hockey Classics."

The Sun Devils were one of the most successful club hockey programs in the country in recent years, including an ACHA national championship in 2014 and never being ranked lower than No. 2 in the country during the 2014-15 season.

Yale has been one of the country's most successful programs in recent years, winning a national championship in 2013.

Michigan Tech was ranked as highly as No. 1 in the country at one point in a strong 2014-15 season.

Connecticut, otherwise known as UConn, is a member of the well-know Hockey East conference.

It was previously announced that ASU hockey would make its NCAA debut at home against ACHA opponents and rivals Arizona on Oct. 3, with speculation that it would play the game (along with several others) at Gila River Arena in Glendale.

The venue and game information of the four-team tournament will be announced in coming weeks, according to Sun Devil Athletics.

Reach the reporter at fardaya@asu.edu or follow @fardaya15 on Twitter.

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