Arizona State to Join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference

When the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) was founded in 2011, the idea was to create a conference that was truly national in nature. Efforts to add Notre Dame to the conference fell short but the idea of moving away from merely regional affiliation in hockey was given birth. The addition of Arizona State University adds a strong, visible member to the conference with new facilities in Mullett Arena and a rising hockey program.

The announcement  Wednesday by the NCHC that ASU is joining the conference starting in 2024-25 is a solid move, sure to strengthen the overall conference both on the ice and nationally while adding a new region to the NCHC.

ASU has quickly built its program under head coach Greg Powers. Coach Powers has been on the Sun Devil Coaching Staff for 12 years, and enters his fifth year as Head Coach of ASU’s NCAA Division I Varsity Hockey Program. He was a finalist for the 2019 Spencer Penrose Award, which is awarded to the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year. Denver is 8-1-1 against the Sun Devils with a 6-0 record at Magness Arena in Denver.

According to College Hockey News, NCHC officials and member schools had a conference call with Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson and the athletic department’s chief financial officer, asking them questions and finalizing expectations before taking a vote. Prior to the recent vote, Miami had voiced concerns about adding the Sun Devils but their objections must have been adequately addressed prior to the vote.

With an unbalanced schedule, the league intends to remain at 24 league games by using three scheduling “pods” of three teams each. The three-team pods are: Arizona State, Colorado College, and Denver; Minnesota Duluth, North Dakota, and St. Cloud State; and Miami, Omaha, and Western Michigan. Teams will play eight games vs. the other two teams in their pod — one home and away series vs. each — while play the other non-pod teams once or twice per season. Which teams play each other twice or once will rotate over a three-year period.

This is a particularly good move for Denver with a pod of CC and ASU and should create some excellent rivalry games in the future. Tempe/Phoenix will be a desired road destination for Denver fans who are not particularly well known as a ‘traveling fan base’. The weather and geographical proximity will be ideal to welcome fans and alumni to Mullett Arena in the cold winter months. In the past, DU has had some dust-ups with the Sun Devils on the ice and fans have enjoyed sharing barbs about each other’s teams (and uniforms) in the press and online.

Denver is scheduled to play the Sun Devils this upcoming season in Tempe, Arizona on November 10th and 11th in the Pios’ first games at Mullett Arena.

Top photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

6 thoughts on “Arizona State to Join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference”

  1. Fantastic addition. Best possible outcome.

    The NCHC should stay at nine teams. I would not admit any other schools that are not major DI schools in new markets. There is no more need for any schools in the upper midwest, as that market is already well-covered by the NCHC.

    If a major, name-brand school in Texas, Utah, Washington, Oregon or California were to start a D-I program, that might be a good 10th addition some day…

  2. Awesome! Now this is good news!

    Lots of good ramifications to think about, but this is very welcome

  3. Some thoughts:
    Does this mean we are done worrying about some ridiculous Summit League for hockey, god I hope so

    the pods: a revived CC would make it fun, but for last 10+ years I really like the NoDak games ( we can still call them The Sioux right?) but don’t see how we can play them every year here. Maybe I’ll finally go there, need to see that arena once. Wait, what the hell am I saying … Arizona or N Dakota in February… this new pod idea is great!

    Wonder what the vote was, agree with swami, let’s not add any of the lesser midwest schools discussed previously ( no summit league ) we already have some great programs from that region . But do want to keep good traditional programs with us like Western M , St Cloud and of course Duluth and North Dakota

    This is fun to think about, lots of implications

  4. With the uncertainty of college athletics these days, this comes as a welcome move by the NCHC.

  5. The first word in NCHC is National. So let’s stay that way and be the only National League in college hockey. The rest are all regional. If a future member emerges, make sure it’s not a regional mid western type school. This “brands” the league a cut above all the other regionals. As Swami says, let’s wait for one of the major universities that wants to get involved in college hockey. Ten is a nice round number.

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