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ASU Hockey: Sun Devils agree to scheduling partnership with the Big Ten for 2020-21

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It has been a struggle for Sun Devil hockey in regards to finding quality opponents to play as an independent university based in the Southwest since they became a Division I team back in 2016-2017. But for the 2020-2021 season, ASU will finally have a chance to play against some consistent talent.

Arizona State and the Big Ten conference have agreed to a scheduling partnership for this upcoming hockey season. The arrangement includes ASU in the Big Ten’s conference only schedule this winter, as the conference announced it would only be playing against opponents in the Big Ten in order to keep the health and safety of the players as the top priority as the fight against COVID-19 continues.

The season is expected to begin as early as November 13, with each Big Ten school playing 24 games, plus four additional contests each against the Sun Devils. Arizona State will play all seven teams in the conference four times, totaling 28 regular season matchups on the ice for the Devils. Unfortunately for ASU, all of the games will be on the road, as they will have to travel to each university for the puck drop.

“With the national trend of athletic conferences transitioning their schedules to conference only, several of our programs are directly affected and maybe none more than our hockey program as an independent," said Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson in a statement.

Since ASU became a Division I college hockey team during the 2016-2017 season, it has been a struggle for the Devils in regards to finding consistent quality opponents to face off on the ice against since they don’t belong to a conference as an independent. Not to mention that they’re the only men’s hockey university in the southwest, which makes traveling a major factor when it comes to scheduling opposing teams.

The Sun Devils have played Big Ten opponents 12 times over the last two seasons with a record of 4-8. Playing these powerhouse teams in every game on the frigid ice in the midwest rinks will be a different and challenging task for a Sun Devil hockey team that is only entering its fifth season at the division I level.

But Arizona State and head coach Greg Powers will be ready for their biggest test as a D1 power in Cawlidge Hockey yet. Coach Powers told the media, "We are looking forward to the challenge presented in front of us and making all Sun Devils proud. We can't thank the Big Ten's coaches and administrators enough for including us as an independent so our student-athletes can share a meaningful season with theirs."