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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils plan to play games at Gila River Arena next season

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Oceanside Ice Arena may not end up hosting as many games as we thought.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The home of the NCAA Division I Sun Devils might not be its current home for very long. And its newest temporary home might be an NHL arena.

ASU currently plays at Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, and the rink announced in early January it would house the NCAA team next season. It may do so for a few games, but coach Greg Powers said Friday the team does not consider the rink its long-term home, or even play all its games there next season.

"I want to make it abundantly clear," Powers said. "(Oceanside) is not, absolutely not, the permanent, long-term home for Sun Devil hockey.

"No one ever said we're playing all our games next season at Oceanside. We might just play some."

Powers said negotiations are ongoing for games to be played as soon as next season at Gila River Arena in Glendale, home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. Powers called the possibility of ASU playing rival Arizona at the Coyotes' rink "very likely."

The endgame for ASU hockey is a 4,000-6,000-seat arena in the East Valley, preferably on campus, Powers said. He said he hopes to have that done in time for ASU's third Division I season in 2017-18.

With 2015-16 games played at a combination of Oceanside and Gila River and 2017-18 ideally at the new facility, that leaves 2016-17, the first full season of NCAA scheduling. Powers said the Coyotes may continue to play host.

"I would expect most of, if not all of our games to be at a major arena," Powers said. "And that very likely could be Gila River."

The NHL rarely plays back-to-back games, meaning ASU could schedule its games for Coyotes off nights. There also exists the possibility of a double-header, with ASU playing a Saturday matinee before a Coyotes night game.

Powers offered no further update on the discussions for a new stadium in the 2017-18 season.

ASU hockey NCAA tournament eligible next season

As for the on-ice product, Powers emphasized to his recruits that the team will be immediately competitive. So much so that ASU is scheduling over 20 Division I games next season, passing the minimum threshold to be eligible for the postseason.

While it would be unrealistic to expect the Sun Devils to make the tournament, Powers said the team has scheduled games against top opponents next year. He could not release names, but said current Top-10 teams will be on the schedule. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Wisconsin will be on the schedule next season.

"We expect in Year 1 to be a complete pain in the (rear) to play against," Powers said. "In Year 2 ... we expect to be a good, solid team where getting swept is not an option.

"In Year 3 we'll join a conference and we want to compete every night to where we know no matter what going into each game that we can win. And by Year 4, we want to feel going into every game we should win."