Those Mids on skates are headed for Tempe, Ariz., and the National Club Hockey Championships, set for Feb. 27 to March 2. Official berths to the prestigious club ice hockey Nationals go out Tuesday, but third-year Navy coach Jim Barry was told Friday his Mids will be included in the field of eight.
"(The National tournament official) told me Friday that Navy is in, but the official word will come (today) from Club Sports" magazine, Barry said Saturday night, after his Mids clinched a berth in the Northeastern Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs with an 8-3 victory over the University of Pennsylvania.
Navy virtually was assured of a berth in the nationals when it won its own 14th Annual Crab Pot Tournament at Dahlgren Hall last weekend, winning, 6-5, over Fordham University in overtime and 5-3 over West Chester College (Pa.) in the final.
At the time, Navy was ranked 10th in the nation by Club Sports while West Chester was No. 9, but West Chester helped Navy crack the top eight to qualify for the Nationals by upsetting 5th-ranked University of Rhode Island, 6-4.
When the rankings come out tomorrow, Navy should be among the elite eight, probably fifth or sixth.
Saturday night's victory over Penn's Quakers was the Mids' 11th; they have had three losses and one tie. Jeff Fogarty and Tim Fetsch tallied a pair of goals each, leading a parade of six Mids who scored.
Goalie Richie Doyle continued his sparkling play in the cage by rejecting 24 enemy shots.
Navy will play this weekend at the University of Rhode Island in the Northeastern playoffs. Navy won the Southern Division Championship last year, but fell short in the Northeast regional, finishing 14-8-1 overall.
Since coming from Boston three years ago, Barry has guided the Midshipmen to an overall record of 34-19-2 and now is about to take them to the Nationals for the first time in 21 years of the club ice hockey program, equivalent to Division III competition.
Barry, a father of five and an economics professor and counselor at the Naval Academy, has also been approached by National Tournament officials about the possibility of the Academy hosting next year's Nationals. No decision has been made yet.
Ice hockey is not a varsity sport at Navy and does not fall under the auspices of the Naval Academy Athletic Association (NAAA). Its press releases and information, such as schedules androsters, comes out of the Academy's Public Affairs office and not the sports information department, which pretty much refuses to recognize the team.
However, open-minded Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel has supported the hockey program, recognizing the way it has caught on in the yard.
"We are only club in name," says Navy tri-captain Steve Jennings ('91). "We don't get the same privileges as the varsity athletes, but we don't need them. The brigade loves us and considers us a varsity team."
That was never more evident than last weekend, when a huge contingent of the brigade jammed into Dahlgren Hallfor the Crab Pot. Capacity crowds have been commonplace throughout the season when the Mids skated at picturesque Dahlgren Hall, with itsclassic architecture and Navy sea plane hanging from the rafters. As coach Barry once told me, "The thrill of Dahlgren is the ambienceof the arena itself."
Sure would be a great place to host a National.
In other local action over the weekend, the Northeast boys' basketball team beat Archbishop Spalding, 69-46, on Saturday afternoon. Gene Pleyo paced coach Johnny Barbour's Eagles to their 13th win against 5 losses with 15 points.
Pleyo was one of 10 Eagles to scorein the game, in which the winners sank only 13 of 30 free throws. Inaddition to his 15 points, the 6-foot Pleyo also had seven rebounds,one assist and one blocked shot.
Class 2A Northeast is second in Region III behind Forestville of Prince George's County, with Pleyo averaging 13.7 points a game, second only to Steve Strauss, with 17.5 per game. Pleyo, a junior guard, paces the Eagles in assists with 5.7per outing.
Spalding (6-16) was led by Ryan Wade's game-high 17 points.
On Friday night, the Annapolis boys' hoop team won a 92-87 overtime thriller over second-ranked Southern of Baltimore. Meade upset Old Mill, 71-68. The race for the top two seeds in Class 4A Region IV is pretty wild.
The top two seeds are coveted because they mean first-round byes in the regional playoffs. The No. 1 seed has home-court advantage throughout.
Six teams in each region advance to postseason play.
Annapolis took the lead in playoff points -- 107 --with its victory. But if Old Mill, now with 99 points, wins its final four games, the Patriots would win the region over Annapolis, 130-129.
The defending State 4A Champion Fighting Panthers are 16-3 overall, but two of the wins from their Christmas Tournament do not count toward playoff points. So, they are actually 14-3 with three games left.