The Desert Hockey Classic will be making its first appearance at the Prescott Valley Event Center after being hosted in Glendale the previous year. The teams will include Arizona State University-who is playing their second season as a division-one team-, University of Connecticut Huskies, Brown University Bears and the St. Cloud State Huskies.
“It’s just awesome to have NCAA division-one sports of any kind here,” said Prescott Valley Event Center Business Development Director Satish “Catfish” Athelli. “I’m just excited to have a very high-level of hockey back in the building.”
The Arizona Sundogs called the Prescott Valley Event Center home, which was then called the Tim’s Toyota Center, from 2006 until the team suspended operations in 2014. Fans of hockey were left without the sport until recently when the club teams from Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University came to play earlier this year.
The Arizona State Sun Devils division-one team, who are on a program-best three-game winning streak, come to the event center looking to bring quality matches to the the quad cities.
“We figured it was a good idea just to get up here and give exposure to the northern part of the state to division-one hockey and to Arizona State hockey,” Arizona State University hockey coach Greg Powers said. “This is a good hockey town that used to have the Sundogs and it’s got a great venue.”
Athelli said there was a strong push from the community for the sport to return and potential suitors who could look to bring a professional team to the Prescott Valley Event Center in the future will have their eye on how the tournament performs with the public.
“It’s not just for our community to sit and enjoy hockey,” Athelli said. “It’s really important for our community to come out and support the hockey that is here because if you want to see professional hockey back, these are the type of events that we need to fill.”
The tournament will feature NHL-quality talent as the four teams combined include 18 NHL draft picks.
#18 ranked St. Cloud State will start the tournament at 4:00pm on Friday against UCONN.
Arizona State University will follow with a matchup against Brown University at 7pm.
The Sun Devils will play a consolation game or a championship game on Saturday at 7pm against UCONN or St. Cloud depending on the results of the Friday matchups.
“There are three very good other teams here this weekend,” said Arizona State University Captain and Left Wing Dylan Hollman. “So they should see some good hockey.”
The Prescott Valley Event Center will have more hockey coming up in 2017 as the Arizona High School Hockey Association will host four games on Sunday January 8th.
Later in January, the Northern Arizona University club hockey team will return to the event center for two straight weekends where the team will play four games.
On January 20th and 21st, NAU will play Grand Canyon University’s club hockey team. The following weekend, January 27th and 28th, has NAU taking on Arizona State’s club hockey team.
All four games start at 7pm.
“There has definitely been a big desire for hockey to come back,” Athelli said. “We are working on that every single day, trying to get another pro-team in here.”
Those who are interested in attending the Desert Hockey Classic can purchase tickets at the door or online.