ASU men's hockey returns to the Valley this weekend

The men's hockey team is set to start its second full season as an NCAA Division I program

NCAA Division I hockey is returning to the Valley, and the ASU men’s hockey team is preparing to kick off its 2017 season Saturday at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe. 

ASU will take on the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks, a team based in Edmonton, Alberta. However, the Ooks are not part of the 59 other schools fielding NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey teams.

The Sun Devils' NCAA D-I schedule begins next Friday, Oct. 6 — UMass Amherst will travel to Tempe for a two-game series. 

The Sun Devils have seen the Minutemen before, defeating them twice last season in Amherst by identical scores of 4-1. 

ASU will then leave the Valley for a six-game road trip lasting the remainder of October. The journey starts in Colorado Springs where the Sun Devils will face the No. 17 Air Force Falcons, then the Sun Devils have a two-game series at the Nebraska-Omaha and at Colgate University. 

ASU has seen all of these teams since joining NCAA D-I. The Sun Devils split the series with then-No.18 Air Force last season at Gila River Arena in Glendale, lost both games two years ago at Nebraska-Omaha and split last year’s two-game series with Colgate at Oceanside. 

Ranked teams galore    

Out of the 17 set opponents ASU will face this season, six are ranked in a top-20 poll from U.S. College Hockey Online.* The Sun Devils will also face off with three teams inside the top 10, including No. 10 Penn State, No. 5 UMass Lowell and No. 2 Boston University. 

Moreover, another four teams set to play the Sun Devils in 2017-18 received votes in the poll. Those teams are Nebraska-Omaha, Yale, Michigan Tech and Michigan. 

Glendale games 

Last season, the Sun Devils played four games at Gila River Arena in Glendale, the current home of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. This season, ASU will play three home games there. 

ASU will play a two-game series against No. 10 Penn State on Friday, Nov. 17 and Saturday, Nov. 18. The final game at Gila River Arena is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20 vs. No. 14 Quinnipiac.

Holiday season tournaments

This year, the Sun Devils will take part in two tournaments around the holiday season. The first is the Three Rivers Classic on Dec. 29-30 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is home of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins. ASU will face No. 11 Providence on Dec. 29 and then face either Robert Morris or Lake Superior State on Dec. 30. 

The second tournament is the first Friday and Saturday of 2018, Jan. 5-6, when the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational is held in Las Vegas, Nevada at T-Mobile Arena, home of the NHL’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights. The Sun Devils will face Northern Michigan on Jan. 5, then play either No. 13 Boston College or Michigan Tech depending on the previous day’s result. 

That old, familiar feeling

Of the 17 NCAA D-I teams on the schedule this upcoming season, nine of those have played the Sun Devils at least once since ASU joined Division I competition, beginning in the 2015-16 season. 

The first game of the season is Saturday, Sept. 30 when the Sun Devils face the NAIT Ooks. Face-off from Oceanside Ice Arena is slated for 7:05 p.m. 

*Poll from U.S. College Hockey Online’s website was released Sept. 25, 2017.

Reach the reporter at or follow @Michael_Baron96 on Twitter.

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