After a typically dominant performance in which he won 12 of 19 faceoffs and collected seven ground balls in No. 16 Navy’s season-opening 10-6 victory over Air Force on Feb. 6, Brady Dove did not fare as well three days later.
The junior was outdueled by Johns Hopkins senior Craig Madarasz, winning just 10 of 23 draws and picking up five ground balls in the Midshipmen’s 12-11 double-overtime loss on Feb. 9.
“Their guy’s pretty good,” Navy coach Rick Sowell said Thursday. “It’s not just the faceoff man. It’s the wing play. It was a good battle. I think what counts for me is, winning the faceoff is one thing, but how often are you playing offense? It was a good battle there, and I think that’s what led to the excitement of the game. It was a good competitive game.”
Madarasz, who missed the entire 2015 campaign after suffering an unspecified injury in the preseason, won 14 of 24 faceoffs, picked up seven ground balls, and even scored a goal off a draw in the first quarter.
“Their guy’s pretty solid,” Sowell said. “He’s probably somewhat unknown, but he showed that he’s a good faceoff man. He scored a goal. That certainly helped early in the game. But we feel we’re pretty good there. We hope to get Joe Varello involved a little bit more in these coming games. But we certainly feel good about Brady as well.”
Varello, a sophomore, won 53.2 percent of the faceoffs he took last year, but has taken just two draws thus far, winning one. Sowell said he would like to get Varello more work, but conceded that it’s difficult to pull Dove, who ranks second on the program’s all-time faceoff wins list and was named to the Patriot League first team last spring.
“That’s the battle in my mind,” Sowell said. “Even if Brady loses one, you trust him and feel good he’s going to get the next one. So when do you give Joe an opportunity to get in there? We’ve gotten him in there just a few times. That’s certainly something that’s in the game plan, to use Joe more.”