By MIKE MOREA For The Capital
Unfortunately for the Naval Academy ice hockey team, another local hockey standout cost the Mids their chance to claim their 11th Crabpot Tournament championship in the 32nd Annual event at McMullen Hockey Arena.
Yesterday, Navy was victimized by Player of the Game Rob Durkee, a Harwood native, as the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers captured their first Crabpot championship with a 7-4 victory.
"Coming from a small town like Harwood, who knew that I was going to be up here and win a tournament like this?" Durkee said. "We all played well. It is good to come over here and play some good competition and all give it all that we have."
Last year, Darren Delullo of Millersville and Towson were victorious, thwarting the Navy attempt at championship No. 11.
Durkee netted the eventual game-winner, a short-handed goal with 4:49 left in the second period, as he converted a pass from Erik Becker. The short-handed goal was the second on the same penalty, as John Fetscher (two goals) scored 59 seconds earlier to give the Retrievers a 4-2 lead.
"We were on top of the world right there. We knew that we had gained the momentum from that," said Durkee, whose goal was the fifth straight by the Retrievers and made it 5-2. "Our defense played great to get the puck out from in front of the net, and I just picked it up and did what I do."
The Mids looked to be in control of matters early, taking a 2-0 lead in the first 2:20.
Jonathon Westerman opened the scoring 11 seconds into the game, and Alex Wallis poked in a rebound a little more than two minutes later.
UMBC battled back on goals by Dana Becker and Tony Martinez to send the teams into the first intermission deadlocked at 2.
The Retrievers took the lead for good on a power play tally by Sean Hoppe eight minutes into the second. That tally was followed by the two short-handed markers that essentially broke the Mids collective backs.
"Those were very deflating to the guys," Navy coach Mike Fox said "We can't have our defense suck up too far, especially on power plays. That happened and came back to bite us."
The Mids answered before the period ended on a power-play goal from Wallis to make it 5-3 at the second break.
There was very little quit in the Navy game as Charlie Daniel made it 5-4 with 11:15 remaining. UMBC took the wind out of the Mids' sails 49 seconds later when Durkee converted an odd-man rush pass from Martinez to make it 6-4.
The Retrievers were looking to give the local man the hat trick when Navy pulled goaltender Jeremy Estevez with less than two minutes left, but Durkee was unable to knock one into the empty net.
Fetscher was successful though to give UMBC the win and its first in only two trips to Annapolis in the newly-established, all-Maryland format of the tournament.
"We love coming here and playing Navy, and it's even more nice to come out ahead," UMBC coach Dan Grisanti said of his second trip to the tournament. "We had a strategy coming in on how to play (Navy) defensively, and we executed it very well. We knew that they were sharp on how they worked the puck."
Junior Patrick Heitman was credited with three assists for Navy, while freshman Mitch Pulver recorded a pair.
Seniors Eric Bowen and Matt Keller, along with freshman Kevin Frederick, each added an assist. Evan Gwinn, an Odenton native, collected a pair of assists for the Retrievers.
In the consolation game, Towson defeated Maryland, 9-4.
John Trantin (Odenton) recorded two assists for the Tigers, while TC Costello (Annapolis) netted a goal for Maryland.
UMBC (23-6-1) 2 3 2 - 7
Navy (14-33) 2 1 1 - 4
GOALS: UMBC - Durkee 2, Fetscher 2, D. Becker, Martinez, Hoppe; USNA - Wallis 2, Westerman, Daniel. ASSISTS: UMBC - Martinez 2, Gwinn 2, D. Becker, E. Becker; USNA - Heitman 3, Pulver 2, Bowen, Frederick, Keller. SAVES: UMBC - Carmack 44; USNA - Estevez 25. SHOTS ON GOAL: UMBC - 32; USNA - 48.