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ASU hockey gears up to give Oceanside Ice Arena one last ride

The Sun Devils prepare to play one last year at Oceanside after calling it home since 1979

Oceanside Outside

Oceanside Ice Arena, home of Sun Devil Hockey, as pictured Friday, Aug. 28, 2015.

The ASU hockey team is continuing to gear up for the 2021-22 season, its last season playing at Oceanside Ice Arena, the venue the team has called home through its ascent into NCAA Division I competition.

The arena is in the northern area of Tempe, about 12 minutes from ASU’s Tempe campus, and has a 747-person capacity for hockey games. It has been the home of the ASU hockey program since 1979, when the team was just a sports club. The arena continued to be the team's home when it received renovations in 2015 to be able to hold NCAA Division I competition. 

Oceanside Ice Arena is not the largest nor the most storied arena in college hockey, but some players still feel a connection to the building that gave a home to the blossoming program.

“We love Oceanside,” said graduate student defenseman Jacob Wilson. “It’s blue collar and we are very thankful for it.”

Wilson is now a second year captain alongside graduate student forward and co-captain Johnny Walker. Both have played at Oceanside for their entire ASU hockey careers. Unlike Wilson and Walker, graduate student forward William Knierim has only played at Oceanside for two years, but he still feels a connection to the building.

READ MORE: ASU hockey looks to bounce back in 2021-22 with experienced captain class

“There’s something to be said about this barn,” Knierim said. “If you check our record here from the past few seasons, you’ll see that this is a special place to us.”

Since 2018, ASU hockey has maintained a record of 25-6-3 at Oceanside Arena. These games have included statement victories against NCAA top-10 teams including a two-game sweep of No. 9 Quinnipiac University and a victory against No. 4 University of Denver in the 2019-20 season.

In the 2020-21 season, ASU played only two games at Oceanside, a two-game exhibition series against the U.S. National Developmental Under-18 Team. The Sun Devils came out of that series with a win and a loss.

Construction continues on the new multi-purpose arena in Tempe on Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021. 

The new arena, which is planned to be completed by December 2022, will seat 5,000 people and be the home of hockey, wrestling and gymnastics. The new arena is being constructed closer to the Tempe campus, south of Rio Salado Parkway and the east side of Packard Drive, close to Desert Financial Arena.

READ MORE: ABOR approves new $115-million multi-purpose arena for ASU sports programs 

The players' focus is not on next year’s new arena, it is on making the most of the last year for this current one.

“It’s going to be nice for the recruits and the younger guys next year to have a new rink and brand new facilities, but this is our home,” Knierim said. “This is where we come to practice every single day, so there is a little bit of an emotional attachment.”

Junior defenseman Tanner Hickey will see the new arena open in his time with the program. He credited the culture of the program with allowing the team to have these new facilities.

“Our culture has stayed the same, that’s what got our program up to this level to get a new rink and these nice uniforms and everything,” Hickey said.

ASU Hockey will open up its season at Oceanside Arena with a series against University of Massachusetts Lowell on Oct. 2 and 3. 

“It’s Oceanside, so we are going to send it out on a good note here for our last year,” Knierim said.

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Shane BrennanEditor-in-Chief

Shane Brennan is the Editor-in-Chief at The State Press. He was a sports and politics reporter, before becoming the editor of the politics desk. He has covered local and state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times and Cronkite News.

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