ASU adds ice hockey as Division I program

Donations have helped Arizona State institute a competitive ice hockey program – but the coach will determine just how far the team goes

Brian Palm, Reporter

Thanks to two private donations totaling $32 million, Arizona State will start the 2015-2016 season with a new Division I hockey team.

Greg Powers, who had been the club team’s head coach for the last five years, will remain in his position.  Powers said that the team will play its first two seasons as an independent team before joining one of the NCAA hockey conferences.  The Sun Devils will play a sort of hybrid schedule against D I opponents as well as several teams from their club days in the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

ASU will play its first game Oct. 3 when they host Arizona.  Powers said certain home games will be played at Gila River Arena (the Arizona Coyotes’ home rink) and the rest at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe (former ASU club team’s home rink).  The team will play the vast majority of their games on the road.

Powers looked towards the NHL’s minor leagues and more specifically the US and British Columbia Hockey Leagues to fill out his D I Roster.  There are five local players on this season’s team and Powers would like to have more.

“We want to support and grow hockey here in Arizona and the best way to do that is by going and getting local talent,” Powers said.  “But we’re only going to go get that talent if they can help us win.”

Powers has an uncomplicated plan for the team’s inaugural campaign.

“We want to be a very difficult team to play against,” he said.  “Our goal for next season is to be a complete pain in the ass to play against and that’s how we’ll approach every game.”

Powers also has an uncomplicated pledge to Sun Devil hockey fans.

“Our goal is to, next year, pleasantly surprise everyone who supports us by being ultra-competitive every time we take the ice, no matter who we play against,” he said.

In just a few months, what began as a conversation between a journalist and ASU athletic director Ray Anderson blossomed into a Nov. 18 press conference announcing that ASU would add ice hockey as a NCAA Division I sports program.

That journalist is Justin Emerson, who published an extremely detailed account of the process at entitled “ASU Hockey: How the Sun Devils became a Division I team.” The State Press also offers more insight into this interesting move of the westward expansion of hockey in an article titled “ASU hockey announces historic move to NCAA” at