Must-see NCAA series to be played later this month at Great Park Ice
Big-time college hockey is coming to Southern California.
Great Park Ice and FivePoint Arena in Irvine will play host to a matchup between Harvard and Arizona State on Saturday, Dec. 28, and Sunday, Dec. 29.
The inter-regional matchup will pit two ranked teams (Harvard was No. 12 going into December, while Arizona State was 20th) that reached last season’s NCAA Tournament against each other.
“It’s great exposure for the college game, and it’s an opportunity for hockey players and fans on the West Coast to see two pretty good teams,” said Art Trottier, vice president of THE RINKS. “We’re excited to host a series between two top Division I programs.”
The programs are a study in contrasts, both geographically and historically.
Harvard, which plays in the ECAC, established its program in 1897 and is based in the Boston area. The Crimson have played in the NCAA Tournament 25 times and reached the Frozen Four as recently as 2017.
Arizona State became the fastest program to play in an NCAA Tournament, reaching the postseason in just its third season. The Sun Devils are a poster child for the college game’s expansion into the Southwest and the first Pac-12 school to add Division I hockey. They currently are the only independent among the 60 schools playing Division I hockey.
Hosting Arizona State is a natural for FivePoint Arena. Not only are the Sun Devils the closest D-I program to California, but they have ties to the state, and to the Anaheim Jr. Ducks.
Longtime Jr. Ducks player Jackson Niedermayer is committed to the school and expected to begin his college career there in either 2020 or 2021. Niedermayer currently plays Junior A hockey for Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League.
FivePoint Arena holds 2,500 for hockey (400 standing-room only), more than triple what ASU’s Oceanside Ice Arena holds.
Saturday’s game faces off at 4 p.m., while Sunday’s is a 1 p.m. start. Ticket prices range from $10-25.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit greatparkice.com/hockey/socal-clash/.
— Chris Bayee
(Dec. 17, 2019)