With football season just about wrapped up for the service academies (best of luck to Army and Air Force in their respective bowl games), it’s time to shift gears to what I’m truly passionate about, hockey.
For new readers, the world of college hockey can be vastly different from other collegiate sports. At the top you have NCAA D1 and D3 programs, similar to other college sports. Then you have schools that participate in the ACHA (with D1, D2, and D3 levels) or newly-formed CHF. Unlike most other college sports, schools with NCAA programs may also have ACHA hockey teams (which is the case for both Army and Air Force) or schools may have multiple ACHA teams (such as Navy).
Between the five federal service academies, there are 10 hockey teams - Army (NCAA D1 and ACHA D2), Air Force (NCAA D1 and ACHA D3), Navy (ACHA D1 and CHF D3), Coast Guard (ACHA D3), and Merchant Marine (ACHA D3). Air Force and Navy also have women’s hockey teams that also compete in the ACHA, Women’s ACHA D1 and D2, respectively. Army and Air Force’s NCAA teams both compete in the Atlantic Hockey conference while the various ACHA teams compete in a variety of leagues within their respective divisions.
With that intro out of the way, let’s dive into a recap of 2021 hockey action.
Army-Navy Rivalry Renews on Ice
Since the Army-Navy rivalry took to the ice in 2013, the attention and level of awareness has increased year over year. This year, the on-ice rivalry debuted as part of the Army-Navy week festivities with Navy’s ACHA D1 team taking on Army’s ACHA D2 team last Friday night at the American Dream Mall.
Navy came out firing on all cylinders, taking a 6-1 lead in the first period. Though Army battled back hard, outscoring Navy 2-1 in the remaining two periods, it wasn’t enough to overcome the opening onslaught. The Midshipmen skated away with a 7-3 victory, stymying Army’s attempt to upset Navy’s top squad for just the second time in series history.
The game marked the final 2021 game for both teams, who will head back into their respective league action in 2022.
Air Force wrapped up the first half of their season earlier this month with a win and shootout victory over Atlantic Hockey foe, Canisius. The Falcons currently sit in second-to-last place in Atlantic Hockey standings heading into the new year. Air Forces resumes play on New Years’ Day with a 2-game road-trip against AIC.
Army also ended 2021 on a winning note, sweeping RIT last weekend and providing a much-needed bright spot for Army fans after the football loss to Navy. The Black Knights will enter 2022 third in conference standings, and resume their campaign against RPI on Jan. 2.
ACHA (and CHF) Men’s Roundup
Lot’s of ground to cover here…
Navy’s D1 squad wrapped up 2021 with another rivalry win over Army D2, 7-3. The victory brought the Mids to .500 as they now sport an 8-8-2 record heading into 2022. Navy D1 resumes play in January against Temple.
Navy’s D3 team, which has recently moved from ACHA D2 to play in the CHF, has tallied one win against 6 losses thus far. The Mids will look to right the ship in 2022 against Liberty on Jan. 14.
Army’s ACHA D2 side had their 7-game win streak snapped against Navy, and take a respectable 8-2-1 record into the new year. The Black Knights will resume play in early January at the Service Leaders of Tomorrow tournament in Bridgeport, CT.
Despite an opening series pair of losses to New Mexico, Air Force’s ACHA D3 team has dominated ACHA D3 competition, rolling into 2022 with a 12-4 record and #13 ranking across all of ACHA D3 teams. The Falcons will look to avenge their season opening losses on the road against New Mexico in January.
Coast Guard’s ACHA D3 team has had a rather light slate of games in 2021; however, the Bears have cruised along to a 4-1 record to close out the year. Coast Guard will also open 2022 play in the Service Leaders of Tomorrow tournament.
Much like their Navy D3 brethren, the Merchant Marine’s ACHA D3 team has struggled in 2021. The Mariners are 0-6, and hopefully 2022 will bring them better luck.
ACHA Women’s Recap
In contrast to their men’s team, Air Force’s Women’s ACHA D1 team has struggled. Despite a commanding win over Colorado State, 15-0, the Falcons have dropped their other five games by hefty margins. Air Force has two games slotted for January against Utah in 2022.
Navy’s Women’s ACHA D2 team has been a force to be reckoned with, posting an 11-1 start to their season, earning them a No. 2 ranking in the Women’s D2 Southeast Region. Navy resumes their schedule in January with a home series against West Virginia.