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.
Coach Andy Borland said that Miles "is one of the finest linemen we've ever had at Severna Park." The Falcons were 7-3 this past season and a county tri-champion.
In boys basketball over the weekend, Severn, Northeast, Old Mill, Severna Park and Southern all opened with victories. Severn posted its first on Saturday while the others won Friday night.
Chris Pitkin, a 6-foot-4 junior, hit a game-winning throw with just three seconds left to lift Severn over Howard County's Mount Hebron, and the Vikings missed a long desperation shot at the buzzer. Pitkin finished with 16 points while fellow junior Brad Fowler led all scorers with 21 points and Jason Moran chipped in with 12.
"It was a big win for us, because we beat a very good team without Jake Mack (the 5-10 junior who broke his ankle during football season), and hopefully we will have Jake back around Christmas time," said Admirals coach Jim Doyle.
Class 2A Northeast surprised 4A Glen Burnie, 60-51. The Eagles of Johnny Barbour sank 14-of-18 free throws while the Gophers hit only 9-of-16.
Eric Sheppard popped in 21 points as Old Mill defeated Laurel, 57-49, while Scott Brown, a 6-5 senior, bagged 18 to lead Severna Park over Northern of Calvert County, 64-59.
Sophomore Chatney Howard scored 22 points to pace Southern to a 72-68 triumph over Great Mills of St. Mary's County.
On the other side of the ledger, St. Mary's (0-2) dropped its second straight, 76-46, to Georgetown Prep. South River, Arundel and Archbishop Spalding also dropped season-openers.
South River assistant coach Jack Jordan said, "We got jobbed, some good old home cookin' " in describing the Hawks' 49-48 loss at Leonardtown in St. Mary's County Friday night.
"A possession should have gone to us but went to them by mistake with 34 seconds left and we're down by 47-46," said Jordan.
"The officials didn't bother checking with the scorers' table to see whose ball it was, gave it to Leonardtown and they scored to go up 49-46. Then, after the score, they told us they made a mistake but there was nothing they could do about it."
South River's final two points came at thefoul line and time ran out. Albert Lee and Darren Hall combined for 29 points for South River.
"We went down to Pallotti planning to do some running, but they did all the running," said Spalding coach Lee Dove in describing the way his Cavs got crushed, 83-62, Friday. Juniors Jeff Paxson and Rich Reilly each had 14 points for Spalding.
Arundel dropped a 50-49 heart-breaker at Baltimore's Poly despite 20 points by Richard Abrams.
On the girls' side, Spalding was victorious by 45-39 over Pallotti as Amy Langville bagged 17 points for Coach Paul Leimkuhler.
Also triumphant in season-openers among the girls were St. Mary's, Severn, Northeast and South River, while Severna Park and Arundel lost.
St. Mary's made the head coaching debut of Harry Dobson a memorable one by 56-29 over Chesapeake as Randall Goldsborough tallied 16 points, including four three-pointers, and Amy Mikula chipped in with 11 points and nine boards, and Christine Manninghad 11 rebounds and eight assists.
The Glen Burnie debut of PattyDages, the county's all-time leading scorer from Brooklyn Park, was spoiled by Northeast, 55-27.
Severn rolled over Arlington Baptist of Baltimore County, 31-14. South River nipped Leonardtown, 41-40, onsophomore Chiara Lee's free throw with one second left. Severna Parklost at Westminster in Carroll County, 54-43, despite 14 points by Lori Sharpless, and Arundel dropped a 48-41 decision to Poly.