Connect with us

Arizona State Sun Devils

ASU hockey joining National Collegiate Hockey Conference

© Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Arizona State hockey team announced today that it will be joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) beginning in the 2024-25 season in a monumental move for the program.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

The NCHC is home to five of the last seven national champions and has quickly become recognized as the top collegiate conference for hockey since its inception in 2013-14. ASU becomes its first new member since its start and ninth overall. The Sun Devils will now no longer be an independent team following the 2023-24 season.

After just one season at Mullett Arena, where ASU ranked 12th nationally in average attendance, the team is going to be put in the spotlight of college hockey. 

“On behalf of the entire NCHC Board, I am thrilled to welcome Arizona State University to the elite conference in college hockey,” said NCHC Chair of the Board and University of North Dakota President Andy Armacost in a press release. “ASU’s commitment to excellence on the ice, in the classroom, and in the lives of student-athletes reflects the ideals of the NCHC, and we couldn’t be more pleased to have them as our newest member.”

ASU only had a 18-21 record last season (went 3-4 against NCHC teams), but had back-to-back 20 win seasons in 2019-20. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, the Sun Devils were ranked top 10 in the national rankings in February and were on pace for a second straight NCAA tournament appearance.

“The NCHC is ecstatic to welcome Arizona State University as a member beginning in the 2024-25 season. Since its inception, the NCHC has been defined by member institutions with a commitment to nationally competitive hockey programs while providing a first-class student-athlete experience. ASU has demonstrated this commitment throughout its program, including the opening of Mullett Arena last fall,” said NCHC Commissioner Heather Weems. “As the NCAA Division I landscape continues to change, ASU advances the NCHC’s competitive and fiscal stability while providing a destination trip for NCHC member institutions’ alumni and fans. We are also excited to introduce ASU fans and the western U.S. market to the strong traditions of our member institutions and to create new rivalries within the NCHC.”

The Sun Devils fought hard to reach Division I status back in 2015-16, and their overall success contributed to them being able to ultimately make the move to the conference. They had attempted to join the NCHC back in 2016, but were denied. ASU also considered trying to join the Big 10 as well after it played an entire season on the road against the conference because of COVID-19.

However, being a part of the NCHC will provide an easier travel schedule and much more financial opportunity specifically for hockey, since it is a hockey-only conference, for the Sun Devils.

“Since the inception of NCAA Division I ice hockey at ASU, we’ve searched for a conference that embodies our commitment to the student-athlete experience, academics, championship performance, and elite competition,” Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson said in the same press release. “After a successful first season at Mullett Arena, the time is right to secure membership within a distinguished conference and we’re thrilled to join the NCHC. This membership further enriches and empowers our commitment to providing the best experience for our students, fans, alumni, and community stakeholders. In exchange, we look forward to hosting our fellow NCHC member institutions and contributing to the standard of excellence set by the conference and its historic programs.”

This news is up there for one of the biggest achievements thus far of coach Greg Powers’ 15-year tenure as coach, and he now has even more responsibility as their popularity figures to grow immensely.

“This will go down as one of the most influential days in the history of Sun Devil Hockey. To be accepted as a member into such a tremendous conference like the NCHC with such historic college hockey programs is an honor we will never take for granted,” said Powers. “The ability to develop rivalries in a conference where hockey is paramount to all its members, chase the Penrose Cup, and compete in postseason championships is going to be a welcomed challenge for our student-athletes and fans,” Powers continued. “We can’t wait to get started and do our part in contributing to the NCHC, the greatest single-sport conference in college athletics.”

It is likely Arizona State can build a program to be up there with the best-of-the-best, as the Sun Devils will now be playing top-tier competition for most of their games and have a lot more funding from the conference.

How the schedule will work (per press release)

“The new schedule model and rotation consists of three, three-team pods based on geography with teams guaranteed to play home and away series against the other two teams in their pod every season (eight games). 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.

The remaining 16 conference games will be played against the six ‘non-pod’ teams, with four opponents only being played in one series (eight games), home or away, and two ‘non-pod’ opponents being played in both home and away series (eight games). The ‘non-pod’ teams that are played either once or twice in a series will rotate over three seasons. The complete 2024-25 schedule will be released next spring”

Other quotes from press release

Chair of the NCHC Athletic Council and Colorado College Athletic Director Lesley Irvine:
This is a defining moment for the NCHC and college hockey. Arizona State joining the league speaks to the national expansion of the Conference and welcoming another program that prioritizes hockey at the highest levels. The value adds are multiple and include the student-athlete experience and engaging alumni, media and community in new regions. Arizona State is a great fit for the NCHC and we look forward to them being a part of this great conference.”

University of Nebraska Omaha Athletic Director Adrian Dowell:
“The rise of ASU Hockey has been impressive, and this is a tremendous addition to the Conference. The Sun Devils are one of the largest brands in all of college athletics and their accessible location gives the NCHC an even stronger footprint in the West.”

University of North Dakota Head Coach Brad Berry:
“We are looking forward to Arizona State University Hockey’s entrance into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Over the past 10 years of its existence, the NCHC has solidified its position as the top league for collegiate hockey. The NCHC’s premier and powerful brand will only be strengthened by the addition of ASU Hockey.”

University of Denver Head Coach David Carle:
“On behalf of the University of Denver, I can say that we are excited about the addition of Arizona State to the NCHC. Their track record as an independent program and the construction of their new facility makes them a perfect fit for our conference. The most successful college hockey conference over the last decade just got better with today’s announcement. We look forward to the competition on the ice.”

Mercury adding ASU’s legendary coach Charli Turner Thorne as assistant

*Get the BEST Phoenix sports insider information, exclusive content, and access to our seasonal magazines! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our premium content!*

Brendan Mau is a college sports insider and general assignment reporter for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on Twitter via @Brendan_Mau

More in Arizona State Sun Devils