With more than 2,000 fans looking on in Dahlgren Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy Friday night, Navy's club ice hockey team (6-1) took a crucial 4-3 thriller over West Chester (7-2) of Pa.
The victory should go a long way toward Navy returning to the National Club Tournament in late February. Navy and West Chester are vying for one of the eight berths to the nationals, which will be played at Penn State.
Navy coach Jim Barry noted that only one team will go to the nationals from the five-team Eastern League of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. Navy, West Chester, the University of Maryland, Lehigh and the University of Pennsylvania make up the Eastern circuit.
Since the second meeting between contenders Navy and West Chester won't be played until mid-February, right around the time invitations go out, Friday's game was crucial.
"It puts us in pretty good shape for the nationals because West Chester just beat URI (University ofRhode Island) by 4-2 and Rhode Island is always a contender," said Barry.
"It was a great game with a great crowd. People were going crazy."
The throng of 2,000 in the majestic Dahlgren Hall watched an action-packed game that reached a crescendo in the final period, when all of the goals were scored.
It was a see-saw third period as Steve Roberto, the fourth Mid to score, notched the game-winner with about a minute to go. The two goalies were marvelous as neither team could put the puck in the net. Navy's Richie Doyle had 40 saves.
West Chester had scored first, but Navy answered on Jeff Fogarty's slap shot just inside the blue line to tie it at one. Bobby Braun then fired one into the right corner to give Navy a 2-1 lead, but it was tobe short-lived. The visitors tallied the next two goals, pushing ahead at 3-2 with seven minutes remaining. Standing in front of the net,Jake Skala tipped one in to knot the score at three with just under four minutes to go.
Roberto skated through three defenders with time running out and found the bulls-eye to set off a wild celebration on the ice and on the balconies as Navy fans cut loose with a thundering ovation.
"Somebody said to me that this is the best-kept secret in Maryland," said Barry of his Navy hockey program.
Barry mightwant to keep it a secret, because if many more hockey fans find out,Dahlgren Hall won't have room for them. Admission is always free to Navy hockey games.
Dahlgren was full to capacity Friday night and the fans got their money's worth, make that, their hockey's worth.
Anthony Walker of North County High, the Anne Arundel County Sun Football Player of the Year, and Mark Miles of Severna Park, both All-County picks, are the winners of two prestigious awards annually presented by the Annapolis Touchdown Club at its February banquet.
At a breakfast in the Officers Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy yesterday, county coaches voted Walker, a standout linebacker/running back, to receive the prestigious Rhodes Trophy, which goes to the county's top player.
Miles, a superb two-way lineman, will receive the Al Laramore Award as the county's top lineman. Laramore was the AnnapolisHigh coaching legend who died of a heart attack on Jan. 10, 1989 at 53.
Walker led the Knights to the state 4A playoffs and a share ofthe county championship with Old Mill and Severna Park (6-2 each) injust the second year of the school's existence. As a running back, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Walker rushed for 786 yards and tallied four touchdowns in 10 regular-season games for the Knights.
From his linebacker post, Walker stalked the gridiron with aplomb, taking down 88runners by himself and assisting on another 53. The Division I prospect, who burns the 40 in 4.3 seconds, also had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
His exceptional play over the last two seasons is one of the main reasons the Knights of Chuck Markiewicz have gone 16-5, including a 39-0 playoff loss to Oxon Hill of Prince George's County.
Markiewicz said Walker has narrowed his list of collegechoices down to three -- Tennessee, Syracuse and N.C. State.
"Anthony should be an outstanding college player, probably a defensive back," said Markiewicz.
Miles sparkled on both sides of the ball at offensive guard and defensive end. His textbook blocking technique made him the main escort for the Falcons' All-County running back John Jennings, who was runner-up in the voting to Walker for the Rhodes Trophy.
With the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Miles leading the way most of the time, Jennings is the only county back to rush for more than 1,000yards in each of the last two seasons. In two years, Jennings tallied 24 touchdowns and accumulated more than 2,300 yards rushing behind Miles.
Miles joined Walker as the only two-way picks (named on first-team offense and defense) on the coaches' 4A team. At defensive end, Miles was a tough hombre for opposing blockers to move. He averaged six tackles a game and had one fumble recovery.