ANNAPOLIS, MD (Sunday, February 14, 2010) -- Towson University scored twice within a 47-second span at the start of third period to break a 1-1 tie, then rode the strong goaltending of senior Greg Valiquette the rest of the way,
to defeat Navy's ice hockey team, 4-1, and capture the championship of the 33rd annual Crabpot Tournament Sunday afternoon at McMullen Hockey Arena.
For those Mids who are now juniors and seniors, today's conest must have felt eerily similar to the Crabpot final two years ago, when the Tigers won by an identical 4-1 score, largely on the strength of a strong 40-save performance by goaltender Darren DeLullo. Valiquette finished with 40 saves in Sunday's finale, and as a result was presented with the "Player of the Game" trophy at center ice by Crabpot Tournament founder Steve Gordon.
Sunday's loss was particularly tough to take for Navy because the Mids had dominated early on. During the first 13 minutes of the opening period, Navy outshot the Tigers by a 12-1 margin and kept the puck in Towson's end of the ice most of the time. The Tigers caught a big break when sophomore Tyler Reddy fired a low, hard shot that Navy netminder Jameson Marshall initially stopped. But the puck trickled through his pads and rolled across the goal line to give the Tigers a 1-0 advantage with just 23.7 seconds left in the first period.
The Mids bounced back quickly when sophomore Mitch Pulver scooped up the puck during a goalmouth scramble and fired it past Valiquette just 4:20 into the second stanza to even the count, 1-1.
Both teams had plenty of opportunities to break the deadlock over the next 15 minutes. Towson, in particular, had two full power play opportunities but managed only three shots on goal during each extra man situation. But neither squad was able to capitalize and the period ended with the teams still tied 1-1.
The third period began with the Tigers enjoying 1:30 of another power play that actually started with 30 seconds remaining in the middle stanza. Although Navy successfully killed off the minor penalty, just two seconds after the penalty elapsed Towson's Matt Doyle picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it into the upper corner of the net at the 1:32 mark to give the gold-and-black clad visitors a 2-1 edge.
Just 47 seconds later, at 2:19, the Tigers sealed the deal when junior Tim Schlagenhauf fired a low wrist shot along the ice that skimmed past Marshall to give Towson a more comfortable 3-1 cushion. Navy pressed hard over the next 14 minutes to cut into the two-goal deficit and also successfully killed off another Towson power play, thanks to five saves by Marshall. The Mids then went a power play of their own with just a little over three minutes remaining in the period, but the Tigers silenced the home crowd when sophomore Steven Alfano scored a shorthanded breakway goal to give Towson an insurmountable 4-1 lead.
Marshall finished with 30 saves for Navy, compared to 40 for his counterpart Valiquette. Alfano was named "Player of the Tournament" for his efforts in both Towson victories.
Assistant team captain Andrew Ochalek summed up the Mids' disappointment in the somber Navy locker room.
"It's really tough to lose the last game you'll ever play in your home rink," Ochalek said to his teammates. "You underclassmen don't know how it feels, but it's really tough. All the seniors asked of you underclassmen was that you all gave 100% today, and you all did that. I'm proud of how we played and that we gave it our all."
Although Sunday's loss was Navy's final home game this season, the Mids will compete in the Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL) tournament next weekend at the University of Delaware. As the league's sixth seed, the Mids will take on #3 seed Delaware Friday night, most likely at 8:30 p.m. The winner of that game will meet #2 seed University of Rhode Island Saturday afternoon at 4:30 or Saturday evening at 7:30. The ESCHL championship game will be held next Sunday at 4 p.m.
Towson 1 0 3 - 4
NAVY 0 1 0 - 1
T - Reddy (unassisted) 19:37
N - Pulver 14 (Fick) 4:20
T - Doyle (Larkin) 1:32
T - Schlagenhauf (Alfano) 2:19
T - Alfano (unassisted) 16:24
Sunday March 9 (M1) Naval Academy, United Stat 2 vs. (M1) Stony Brook University 6 Friday March 7 (M1) Naval Academy, United Stat 4 vs. (M1) Liberty University 3 Thursday March 6 (M1) West Virginia University 1 vs. (M1) Naval Academy, United Stat 2