There were a couple of exciting announcements for hockey fans in the desert today. First, the Arizona Coyotes ownership group are planning on placing a bid to host the World Junior Championship in 2018 according to Craig Morgan of Fox Sports Arizona.
Morgan reported that Andrew Barroway, Anthony LeBlanc and Don Maloney met with USA Hockey officials at the NHL All-Star game in Columbus to discuss hosting the tournament at Gila River Arena.
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The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has already chosen the United States as the host country for the tournament in 2018. It is now up to USA Hockey to decide on where in the country the tournament will be held.
Other cities that have reportedly shown interest in hosting the tournament are Detroit, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. The last time the tournament was held in the United States was in 2011 in Buffalo, New York.
On a similar note, Morgan has also reported that the Coyotes are having discussions with Arizona State University about hosting some ASU games at Gila River Arena for the 2016-17 season. Here’s what LeBlanc said to Fox Sports Arizona.
"“We have had discussions with ASU about having the Sun Devils play some home games at Gila River Arena. We would be thrilled to have them play at our venue, but it would be premature to state anything definitively at this time,” LeBlanc said."
ASU currently plays at Oceanside Arena in Tempe. With ASU hockey making the jump to NCAA Division I, it’s looking less and less likely that the aged Oceanside Arena will remain the long term home of the Sun Devils.
In addition to the Coyotes wanting to host some Sun Devil games, Morgan has also reported that the Coyotes and Sun Devils are working together to bring the NCAA Frozen Four tournament to Arizona. This year’s tournament will be held in Boston, but Coyotes and Sun Devil representatives will be there as well to discuss bringing the tournament to Arizona.
Both the World Juniors and Frozen Four tournaments are a big deal in the hockey community and to host them in Arizona would be a big deal. Especially as hockey is on the rise through out the state.
Between 2013 and 2014, Arizona had the third highest growth in the nation, in terms of hockey enrollment and participation. The increase spans across both youth and adult hockey. There is even a high probability that Scottsdale native, Auston Matthews will be the overall No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
This is all great news for hockey in Arizona. It’s especially calming to those who are suspicious of LeBlanc’s intentions with the future of the Coyotes in Arizona. The organization has shown that they were not joking when they said they wanted to build hockey in Arizona and these announcements prove it.