More than a month ago, this blog pointed out a subpar showing by faceoff specialist Brady Dove in Navy’s 12-11 double-overtime loss to Johns Hopkins on Feb. 9. So it’s only fair to note the junior’s string of recent dominant performances.
During the No. 13 Midshipmen’s four-game winning streak, Dove has won 67.1 percent (53-of-79) of his draws and collected 28 ground balls. In Saturday’s 12-7 victory at Patriot League rival Lehigh, he claimed 14 of 19 faceoffs and a season-high 11 ground balls to earn the conference’s Faceoff Specialist of the Week award.
With a season success rate of 59.9 percent (82-of-137), he has risen to No. 17 in Division I -- which comes as no surprise to coach Rick Sowell.
“Maybe we weren’t having quite the success that we’re used to in years past, but we felt good that it was going to turn at some point,” he said Monday. “He’s been too good for too long for us to all of a sudden to think that he doesn’t have it. We just knew we just had to figure some things out. Certainly in the last couple games, these adjustments have worked very well for him and hopefully, we can continue to be solid.”
During one three-game stretch, Dove finished at 50 percent or less against the Blue Jays, Delaware and Boston University, and Navy (6-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference) dropped those contests against Johns Hopkins and the Terriers. Sowell dismissed the notion that Dove was nursing an undisclosed injury during that span.
“Just more about making adjustments,” he said. “He was healthy, and we’re not going to blame it on anything other than we just had to keep working. We made the necessary adjustments, and it’s clicked into place, and he’s been on a roll ever since. It’s really nothing more than figuring it out, and he has done so.”
Dove has already become the program’s all-time leader in faceoff wins with 392 and is the fourth player to exceed the 200-ground ball mark with 205. Perhaps even more important, his play has given the Midshipmen a better-than-50-percent chance of stringing together a run or quelling an opponent’s.
“If we score, there’s a good chance we’re going to win the faceoff and we can build off that momentum,” Sowell said. “If the other team scores, there’s a good chance we’re going to win the faceoff and hopefully interrupt their momentum by scoring on that next possession. Any coach would tell you that having a dominant faceoff man really makes it difficult for the opponent to go off on runs against you and allows your team the opportunity to put together two or three or four goals in a row. That’s a good feeling.”