2019 is coming to a close, and there is plenty of buzz around various service academy hockey teams, both at the NCAA Division 1 level which features Army and Air Force, and at the ACHA level which features teams from all five federal service academies. Some of the teams are on break, while others are still in the thick of game action. 2020 promises to start off at a quick pace with all of the hockey action at the academies.
#20 Army - 10-5-1 (Atlantic Hockey), 13-5-1 (overall)
Head coach Brian Riley and the Black Knights are currently riding arguably the best performance in program history. Army sits in second place in Atlantic Hockey standings, just one point behind Sacred Heart. Even more impressive is the Black Knights earning a #20 national ranking from the USCHO Coaches Poll after defeating New Hampshire, 5-4, this past Sunday.
With this ranking, all four teams competing in the Fortress Invitational tournament, hosted by the Vegas Golden Knights, will be ranked: #20 Army, #14 Providence, #6 Ohio State, and #2 Cornell. Army and Providence will face off on January 3rd, followed by Ohio State versus Cornell. As it stands, the Black Knights sit poised to march comfortably into the Atlantic Hockey post-season tournament, or possibly earn an at-large NCAA tournament bid if they fail to win the Atlantic Hockey tournament. In any case, Army hockey fans have plenty to get excited about heading into 2020.
Air Force - 5-4-3 (Atlantic Hockey), 5-8-3 (overall)
The Falcons have flip-flopped with their Atlantic Hockey rival Army since last season. Air Force finished the 2018-19 season in third place in Atlantic Hockey before being eliminated in the post-season tournament. Now, the Falcons trail behind the Black Knights in sixth place.
Junior defenseman Zach Mirageas named AHA Defensive Player of the Week https://t.co/G9auL0g1b2— Air Force Hockey (@AF_HKY) December 10, 2019
Air Force hasn’t played since early December, a win and tie against Holy Cross. The Falcons kick 2020 off at home with two home games against American International College before heading to New York to take on Army January 10th-11th. With Army’s current trajectory, Air Force is in for a tough pair of games, but the rivalry nature brings out the best of both teams and typically ends in a close game.
All five federal service academies - USMA, USNA, USAFA, as well as the US Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies - all field ACHA ice hockey teams. Navy has an ACHA D1 and D2 team as well as a Women’s D2 team, Army maintains a sole D2 team, and Air Force competes at the D3 level along with Coast Guard and the Merchant Marines.
Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines currently have players representing “Team USA Military” over in Germany along with players from the Citadel. This is the second year Team USA Military has gone overseas for international exhibition games.
Final score— USA Military Hockey (@TeamUSMilitary) December 30, 2019
Team USA 8-5 over EV Berchtesgaden! pic.twitter.com/8pd0ZXHpNC
The Midshipmen are enjoying varying degrees of success across their three ACHA teams. The Men’s D1 team is currently 10-8-0 and will continue play in mid-January against Temple University. The Men’s D2 team on the other hand, is win-less in its 2019-20 campaign. Toiling in the bottom of their conference standings, the D2 Mids take on St. Joseph on January 25th.
On the women’s side, Navy is sitting at 9-5-1 and are also currently ranked #5 in the ACHA Women’s D2 Southeast Region. The Navy women’s D2 team is back in action at home against Pittsburgh on January 17th-18th.
The Black Knights have also had a rough 2019-20 outing, similar to their Navy D2 contemporaries. Army is 3-13-1 overall, and fell out of the ACHA Men’s D2 Northeast rankings. However, the Black Knights sit in sixth place in their conference and made some noise in last season’s conference tournament after an underwhelming regular season performance. Army takes on Montclair State University on January 12th at home.
We will be back January 12th with league action. For now, here are the current standings heading into break. pic.twitter.com/Vs7zVJMckz— SECHL HOCKEY (@SECHLHockey) December 17, 2019
The Falcons’ ACHA D3 team is soaring this season. Air Force is a perennial ACHA D3 Pacific Region powerhouse, and currently sits in second place with a 10-4-0 record. Of note, the Falcons defeated both Navy and Army’s D2 squads earlier this season in the first-ever CIC hockey tournament. Air Force resumes play in 2020 on January 11th against Colorado School of Mines.
The Coast Guard Academy Bears are enjoying a successful 2019-20 campaign thus far as they sport a 8-3-0 record and are locked in a 3-way tie at the top of their conference with the University of New Haven and Harvard. The Bears also come in ranked at #11 in the ACHA D3 Atlantic Region. Coast Guard resumes play in 2020 against Middlesex Community College on January 10th prior to competing in the Service Leaders of Tomorrow tournament along with Navy and the Merchant Marine Academy.
Surprisingly, the Merchant Marine Academy (or Kings Point as they are commonly referred to) is ranked at #12 in the ACHA D3 Atlantic Region despite a 1-2-1 record. Although at the bottom of their conference, the Mariners will have an opportunity to turn things around against MCHC foe Western Connecticut on January 17th.