Division I college hockey is coming to Orange County.
Top-20 teams Harvard and Arizona State will square off on Saturday, Dec. 28, and Sunday, Dec. 29, at FivePoint Arena in Great Park Ice.
The inter-regional matchup will match two ranked teams (Harvard was No. 17 as of Dec. 10, while Arizona State was 16th) that reached last season’s NCAA Tournament.
“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, the 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 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 in March, 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, a 2001 birth year, 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.
Rory Herrman, another former Jr. Ducks player, also was committed to ASU at one time before opting to attend RPI, a conference rival of Harvard's.
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 apiece.
For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit greatparkice.com/hockey/socal-clash/