Arizona State Sun Devils hockey returning to Gila River Arena for 4 more games in 2016-17 season

Posted at 2:03 PM, Jun 10, 2016

The Arizona State Sun Devils joined the NCAA Division I ranks last season, but their 2016-17 campaign will feature their first full slate of NCAA opponents.

And just like last season, four of ASU's home games will be played on the Arizona Coyotes' home ice of Gila River Arena in Glendale.

The Sun Devils released their complete 2016-17 hockey schedule Friday. That schedule includes nine home games at their regular home rink of Oceanside Ice Arena in Tempe, along with games against Harvard, Michigan and Air Force at Gila River Arena.

The Sun Devils and Coyotes began their partnership last season when ASU played four home games on the Coyotes' home ice, including an 8-1 win over archrival Arizona in their inaugural game in Glendale. ASU averaged over 5,000 fans per home game in Glendale.

This season's games at Gila River Arena will be vs. Air Force on Oct. 14 and 16, vs. Harvard on Oct. 28 and vs. Michigan on Nov. 5.

Two years removed from winning the ACHA Division I hockey championship, ASU had a rough introduction to the NCAA ranks, going 10-22-5 in its inaugural NCAA season last year.

This year's schedule is even tougher: It includes eight of the 16 teams that completed in last season's NCAA Tournament, including three of the Frozen Four finalists. 

The Coyotes are actively pursuing the creation of a new arena in the Valley for use after their current lease at Gila River Arena expires following the 2016-17 season. Sources have told ABC15 that a joint arena with ASU hockey in Tempe is among the Coyotes' favored options. Phoenix and Scottsdale are the other rumored possibilities.

Coyotes co-owner Anthony LeBlanc expects a formal announcement on a new arena before the NHL Entry Draft on June 24-25.