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Ahead of football matchup, Army-Navy renew rivalry on the ice

Army’s ACHA D2 team faces off against Navy’s ACHA D1 squad at American Dream Mall Friday evening. 

Army celebrates its win over Navy in men’s ice hockey in 2016.

Army-Navy Hockey Rivalry Takes Next Step Ahead of America’s Game

While the Army-Navy rivalry traces its roots back to the late 1800s, the chapter that includes hockey is much newer.

Up until 2012, there was no sensical way for Army and Navy to compete on ice. Army has boasted a NCAA Division 1 program for many years, while Navy’s top hockey team competes at the ACHA D1 level. In most (but not all) cases, that difference creates quite a disparity in talent level and would’ve put Navy at a disadvantage.

However, in the fall of 2012, West Point’s Inline Hockey Club (composed of ice hockey players) made the decision to reform the club as an ice hockey team competing at the ACHA D2 level. This decision helped pave the way for Army and Navy to square off in the confines of an ice rink. In January 2013, the Black Knights and Midshipmen made history as the first ever Army-Navy hockey game took place at McMullen Ice Arena in Annapolis.

Despite a valiant effort, Army’s D2 team came up short, 6-4. Since that inaugural game, Army has faced off against both of Navy’s ACHA squads, typically with commanding wins over the D2 team and close defeats against the D1 team. In January of 2016, Army’s D2 team finally topped Navy’s D1 side for the first time in the rivalry’s short history.

This Friday evening, Army has another shot to tally just the second win over Navy’s D1 team to date. The two teams will take center stage, facing off at 8 p.m. EST at the American Dream Mall, just miles from MetLife Stadium. With a vast majority of Army-Navy hockey games being played either at Tate Rink (West Point) or McMullen Ice Arena, American Dream Mall presents possibly the second most notable venue the teams have played in (behind Madison Square Garden, 2016).

Let’s take a look at how the teams match up against each other.

Navy ACHA D1

Navy’s ACHA D1 team enters this contest with a 7-8-2 record, keeping them in the mix for their Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association conference standings. For the Midshipmen, Michael Rockovich and Brendan Reynolds lead the way in points with 18 and 13, respectively.

In net, Charles Doherty has the bulk of playing time, starting 14 games. With a 6-5 record, he sports a 2.71 goals against average and .917 save percentage.

Army ACHA D2

Army’s ACHA D2 team (8-1-1), a member of the Super East College Hockey League, is riding a 7-game win streak and is currently ranked #9 in the Northeast Region of the division. The Black Knights are led by cadets Mark Lehman and Caleb Kaiser, who are tied with 9 points each. Defenseman William Kiley is close behind with 6 points.

In goal, Timothy Kiley and William Eckland have split time. Kiley leads the tandem with a 1.27 goals against average and .949 save percentage, while Eckland is undefeated, posting 5 and no losses during his watch.

Unfortunately, there are no live streams of this game (that I’m aware of), so the only chance to catch the game is if you’re in town for the Army-Navy football game and are able to get to the American Dream Mall rink for puck drop.

With a dominant Army side taking on a middle-of-the-road Mids squad, the time is ripe for the Black Knights to win just the second game over Navy’s D1 team in program and series history. I’ll be interested to see the outcome, and I’d recommend following both teams’ Twitter accounts for possible score alerts and game updates on Friday.

Army ACHA D2:

Navy ACHA D1: