There's been a shift in the NCAA D1 Men's Hockey scene over the past few years — a shift out west. Arizona State University joined the fold and the game has expanded into Arizona, California and Washington.
With interest in the sport mounting, it's finally time for the NCAA to create a true West Coast conference — one that can solidify the college game's expansion into all regions of the country. But which schools should lead the charge? Choices are abundant, but a few schools stand out as perfect options to form a West Coast college hockey league.
1. University of Southern California
University of Southern California is a prime destination for SoCal D1 Men's Hockey (Photo courtesy of USC Hockey Facebook Page)
The Los Angeles Kings are annual contenders for the NHL's Stanley Cup and the Anahiem Ducks have built a potential dynasty roster. The success of these pro squads has helped hockey take off in the unlikeliest of places: the Sunshine State… especially the southern half. There are a ton of schools in the L.A. area that would be worthy of a team, but none better than the home of the Trojans. USC is a private institution known for the quality of it's athletics and its academics, so there would be both the financial means and the desire for student athletes to play in the market. The Trojans could easily play out of the Staples Center or Honda Center, or could invest in a small arena on campus (perhaps near the current Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum).
2. University of Washington
University of Washington's ACHA club team draws a significant fan base for regional matchups. (Photo credit Chris Mast – UW Hockey)
In Seattle the University of Washington is known for being an academics first kind of school. But they've remained relatively competitive when it comes to athletics and there is no better location on the west coast to expand NCAA Division 1 Men's hockey than Seattle, Washington. The city already has a hockey ready venue in Key Arena which holds 15,000 for hockey games. Far more than UW would have to worry about accomodating. Shutting down the upper bowl would still give UW one of the best college hockey atmospheres in the nation not to mention the draw of playing in one of the country's most beautiful cities. After failing to secure an NHL expansion franchise Seattlites are itching for hockey. The 15th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. has to travel two hours north to catch professional hockey or head south to Kent, Washington for some WHL action.