Call it a power play for the University of Arizona.
The Wildcats are adding a womens hockey team in the fall of 2024, Arizona mens hockey coach Chad Berman told KGUN on Wednesday.
Berman says the womens team has hired Caitlin Hogan, St. Cloud State hockey standout and U.S. Olympian, as head coach. A formal announcement about the team and coach is expected later this week, Berman says.
We wanna create opportunity for girls to come to school here, play hockey and get a great education, he told KGUN. And to us, this is real tangible signs of [the sports] growth.
Finally! Exclaimed Jennifer Colbus, reacting to the news. The Tucson hockey mom frequently drove her daughter, Willow, back and forth to Phoenix for hockey practice and games.
Willow played at Grand Canyon University and is now transferring to UArizona.
The thought of possibly being able to get back into hockey at the college level in a year, shes very excited, said Colbus. Weve been following the U of A mens forever and saying, Gosh, we really need a womens team. We do have GCU and ASU, but having it here in town is great.
The Wildcats are also adding a second mens team and a sled hockey team.
Supporting hockey families and everything down here, its just gonna help the [Tucson] Roadrunners, Colbus added. Its gonna help everything. Get more people into the game.
The new teams come ahead of a new home for Wildcats hockey: the three-rink Iceplex planned for the privately-funded Mosaic Quarter sports and entertainment development, near Kino Sports Complex.
Its not like were building an ice rink with a Field of Dreams people will come type of thing, said Berman. People are gonna come because theyre already here. There is a demand here.
We have people who have been season ticket holders for 30 years, theres a rich history of success here and tradition here with hockey.
The Wildcats play in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which does not offer scholarships like the NCAA. They currently share the ice with the Roadrunners at the Tucson Arena, inside the Tucson Convention Center.
Very lucky to be where we are now at the TCC, but obviously to have our own facility and set-up will be a game changer for our program, Berman said.
The Iceplex would give the Cats more consistent ice time and a better setup for players and fans.
My dream here, when you have a program with this much of a following is to win a National Championship, Berman added. This is gonna improve the quality of recruit we can get in.
Film room, full restaurant with club seating up to the glass This is gonna be a first-scale set-up. And beyond our program, for the community, its gonna be massive.
Berman says construction on the Iceplex could begin as soon as this fall, to be finished in late 2025.