If nothing else, Arizona State hockey has one thing going for it that most other Division I hockey teams can’t match.
“The weather,” Jacobs sophomore Matt Romer said.
Romer, who plays for the Chicago Mission 16U hockey team, committed to play collegiately at Arizona State a few weeks ago. The Sun Devils are in their third season playing a full D-I hockey schedule.
Of the 60 teams that field D-I hockey, Arizona State is one of the few that plays in a warm-weather state.
“Walking to the rink in flip flops, shorts and T-shirt, it’s like, why not?” Romer said.
Romer is a right wing who won a AAA Tier 1 national championship with the Mission in 2017. The location of those championships? Scottsdale, Arizona, just up the road from Arizona State’s Tempe campus.
“Playing Division I hockey in Arizona, you couldn’t go wrong with that,” Romer said. “The whole coaching staff is unbelievable. They’re young coaches, but they know what they’re doing. They’re just great guys.”
The Sun Devils’ 41-year-old head coach Greg Powers has led the program since 2010. He oversaw Arizona State’s rise to becoming a club power in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, winning the 2014 ACHA national championship before moving to D-I in 2015.
The only Pac-12 school with a D-I hockey program, Arizona State competes as an independent in men’s hockey.
“They were the first [school] to offer me, and I know what they’re capable of in the future,” Romer said. “They’re building a new rink in 2020. It’s going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be one of the best rinks in the country. Just the way they are right now, they’re doing great, and they’re only going to get better.”
The program is ranked for the first time in its history this week. At 9-3 early in the 2018-19 season, the Sun Devils are No. 18 in the country.
Romer will continue to play for the Mission this season. Last year, the club moved into the MB Ice Arena near the United Center, the same facility where the Blackhawks practice.
“We’ve got our own weight training facility upstairs,” Romer said. “We’re working with the Hawks’ strength and conditioning coach, Paul Goodman. He’s been working us out. It’s awesome being in the same rink where the Hawks practice and seeing all the Hawks stuff there.”