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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils to host Desert Hockey Classic in January

Arizona State will kick off its NCAA play with a showdown with some of the sport's top programs at Gila River Arena.

On Jan. 11, passionate football fans that reside in the desert will be participating in the festivities surrounding the College Football Playoff National Championship that will take place in Glendale. As two of the country's best football programs convene for the national championship, the Greater Phoenix area will again enjoy one of football's top spectacles right in its backyard.

Hosting a nationally-televised sporting event is nothing new for Phoenix, but local residents and those visiting for the football festivites will have a chance to see their first Division I NCAA hockey tournament, as the newly-minted D-I Sun Devils will host the Desert Hockey Classic.

Arizona State will welcome Michigan Tech, Connecticut and Yale to Gila River Arena for a weekend tourney.

The tournament will mark the return of Division 1 collegiate hockey to Arizona, as the state hasn't seen an NCAA game since Northern Arizona dropped its program in 1985. The success ASU experienced at the club level led to its elevation into NCAA status, but the teams the Sun Devils will be welcoming for the Classic all have significant histories of success at the game's highest collegiate level.

Michigan Tech's hockey program is the only one that the school fields in NCAA Division 1 play, as the university's other sports participate in Division 2 competition, but the Huskies have a rich history in the rink. The program has struggled in recent years, but the three NCAA championship banners that Michigan Tech boasts maintain its reputation as a college hockey heavy hitter.

Connecticut is known for its basketball prowess more than its success in hockey while Yale's reputation as a stellar academic institution often precedes its athletic programs, but both have made strides towards building solid programs that will provide a strong challenge for the Sun Devils. UConn just recently transitioned into the Hockey East Association, widely considered the strongest conference in the sport, while Yale is just two years removed from winning the national title