ASU men's ice hockey moves to the big time

Sun Devils make switch from club team to NCAA Division I


ASU men's ice hockey teams plays the University of Arizona.

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  Youth hockey is flourishing in Arizona but until now, there was no top-level college program in the state.

 This year, Sun Devil men’s ice hockey team made the jump from a club sport to NCAA Division I.

“I was hoping I would get to this level but back then I didn’t expect it in Arizona,” said Jordan Young, a senior who is one of the three captains of Arizona State University’s first varsity hockey team.

 Young, who is from Cave Creek, is one of five Arizona players on the 32-man roster.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said of the move to varsity.

 “It’s a matter of everyone getting rewarded for all the hard work they put in. It felt perfect that it happened at the right time.”

ASU fans cheer on the men's ice hockey team.

Go Devils!

An Arizona State University fan throws up the pitchfork during ASU ice hockey's first game as an NCAA sport at Gila River Arena on Oct. 3, 2015. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

 The move was announced in November 2014, thanks to a $34 million private donation that also will fund two additional women’s sports team, which are to be determined.

 And just a year later, ASU has become the 60th men’s hockey team in the top division of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

 “I knew the club team was getting better and better but it seemed pretty far off that they would make the jump to Division 1,” said Drew Newmeyer, a junior who is from Scottsdale.

 The team won the club team national championship in 2014, when ASU was part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

ASU will play 11 home games at Tempe's Oceanside Ice Arena and three games at Gila River Arena in Glendale, home of the Arizona Coyotes NHL team. ASU’s first game, an exhibition on Oct. 3 in which they defeated the University of Arizona’s club team 8-1, was at Gila River.

 Youth hockey has been growing in Arizona, with membership in the USA Hockey organization nearly doubling in the last decade, to about 7,400 players.

 Both Young and Newmeyer came to ASU’s club team after playing on local youth teams and in the United States Hockey League, a premier division for players who are 20 years old and younger.

 Now that they’re varsity, many things on the ASU team are “amped up,” Young said.

 “The pre-season, the film, the hard work lifting weights, the mental preparation, everything is different,” he said.

 “We’re working out four days a week at 6:30 a.m. in the gym. Last year, it was work out on your own, hold yourself accountable and be in game shape.”

 Newmeyer said the heightened attention is one difference.

 “Everything is way elevated from where it was before,” he said. “There are really good trainers and medical staff.”

Senior defender Jordan Young battles for the puck.

Arizona State University senior defender Jordan Young of Cave Creek, AZ, battles for the puck during the first game Oct. 3 at Gila River Arena. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

 Coach Greg Powers said that Arizona will be a prime recruiting area for the team.

 “We want to make sure that the best Arizona kids stay in Arizona and play for ASU,” he said. “It’s a priority.”

 ASU’s other local players are Edward McGovern of Scottsdale; Anthony Croston of Phoenix, and Cody Gylling of Chandler.

 But while young Arizona players can now stay in state to play Division I hockey, only a few will make it.

 “They have to be an elite player,” Powers said. “We’re not going to take someone just because they’re from Arizona.

 “But we are starting to produce some really elite players in this state.”

 The next ASU men’s ice hockey home game is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at Oceanside Ice Arena, 1520 N. McClintock Dr., Tempe.

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