On the Topic Of the Crab Pot Tournament

The 43rd installment of the Crab Pot Tournament is taking place this weekend at McMullen Ice Arena on the Brigade Sports Conplex in Annapolis, Maryland on Friday. It’ll see four games being played where the winners of the Friday games will face off in the title game Saturday night and the two losers will be in the consolation game. This title is one that is very known in the Maryland hockey community and really holds a special place with the Naval Academy as a year-end tournament.

When it comes to the history of the literal crab pot on a trophy base, it goes back to 1978 when then-Navy head coach Steve Gordon. Gordon was a goalie at Northeastern University in Boston and took part in the Beanpot Tournament that happens in mid-January every year. It’s claimed that the Crab Pot is the Beanpot offspring named after the Maryland blue crab, while many players have said it’s a great compliment to the Beanpot for the mid-Atlantic ACHA teams.

This year’s tournament is pretty special for the area, too, as it’ll be the first time since 2017 that it’ll be an all Maryland-based tournament. Of course, the Naval Academy is in Annapolis, but joining the Midshipmen will be the Stevenson Mustangs (Reisterstown), Towson Tigers, (Towson…obviously), and the Maryland Terrapins (College Park). For a trophy that is so absurdly Maryland, it’s a nice sight to see all four teams being from the state. Granted, we’ll see how the skill levels are, as both Stevenson and Maryland are Division 2 and will take on Navy and Towson (respectively) who are Division 1 in the ACHA.

It also gives a spotlight for the team to people who may not get to see these teams on a regular basis. It’s can be a haul from College Park to Towson to see a game or Reisterstown to Annapolis– especially on the weekend. This puts all the teams in one spot for all to take in. You could hope that this could be a recurring thing, as with the Beanpot– but it has been mainly an invitiational tournament that takes into account the playoff schedules of these leagues the teams are in– but if the stars can align properly, maybe it can be come a regular meeting of the four in years to come.

The tournament is a special one for the players at Navy. When speaking to Navy co-captain Derek Golembrosky he said, “The people of Annapolis love it, we (Navy) love it, it’s a cool spectacle to be in every year. It seems when teams come here for that, they always play harder against us. Last year’s tournament (win over Rhode Island) was a highlight of my career. Just sitting on the bench, heart pounding, and then into the overtime and shootout was just one of the top moments of my career.”

So, the question is now with how big the Crab Pot is and how the growth of women’s hockey has become– will we ever see a Women’s Crab Pot with Navy, Maryland, Towson, and the Loyola Greyhounds?? Time will definitely tell, but with all four of those teams in Division 2; they could go in on equal footing and draw an entirely new crowd of people to the event.

If you have the chance and are in the Annapolis area, I say you should take a look at it. It’s Friday and Saturday with game one at 5:30, game two at 8:30 and all the Maryland content you could hope for.

Maybe Liberty University Can Make the Jump to NCAA D1 Hockey

Photo via Liberty.edu

When I had time this weekend, I was able to check out some ACHA hockey between Stevenson University and Liberty University at Liberty’s rink in Lynchburg, Virginia. The rink they had, the production they had, and the support the teams have are amazing. It makes you think that if their close to 4,000-seat arena would be suited to make a jump to the NCAA level– most likely on the D1 stage.

A bit of history on Liberty’s club team– they started in 1985 and actually house five club teams, the only school in the ACHA to do so. They have a D1, D2, and D3 men’s team, while they also have D1 and D2 teams for the women’s side. All five teams have winning records this season, with the D1 and D2 men being ranked in the top-six, while both women’s teams are ranked 1st in the nation, with the D1 side being back-to-back National Champions. While it is club hockey, those numbers shouldn’t be one to scoff at regardless of the level of play.

The school is very well funded. With an endowment of $1.43B– which ranks in the top 100 of universities in North America, there’s plenty of money to be able bring their men’s D1 and women’s D1 to the big stage of the NCAA hockey and be somewhat successful. One of the big hiccups would be trying to get top recruits to get accepted to the school, as well as having them be able to adhere to the code that the school has for its students, much akin to what Brigham Young University has.

Of course, the biggest question is where they would play at, as Lynchburg isn’t all that close to many places that already play. Robert Morris and Penn State would probably be the closest rivals. You’d have to think that with the Alaska teams in trouble and the WCHA apparently falling apart in slow motion, it’d be perfect for Atlantic Hockey to pick up Liberty and maybe even Alabama-Huntsville. That’s if they want to take that risk and move their footprint down the coast and over to the South. That said, friggin’ Air Force is in Atlantic Hockey, so why wouldn’t they want to take the chance?? Not only that, but Liberty would fit right in, as nine of the 11 teams in the conference are private schools.

On the women’s side, they’d probably be able to slide into College Hockey America, with Penn State and Robert Morris being the closest rivals, as well as having Lindenwood University in Missouri being a little outlier for them. Since it is a women’s only conference– it would be a good fit for the Lady Flames to side into should they want to make the jump.

It would be another step for club teams to move up to D1, with Penn State and Arizona State making those jumps in the last decade. It’s a school that would draw a lot of eyes from an area that NCAA hockey doesn’t have a foothold in already, while also maybe counteracting things that could happen should teams have to fold into itself due to budget cuts.

The money is there, the groundwork for success is there, the arena is there– all it needs is to actually make the jump and move forward with it. Might it be an odd choice to take a team from Southwest Central Virginia into the D1 fold?? Sure, as purist would call it a non-traditional market. Yet, at the same time– the exposure top-tier college hockey to that area could create more youth hockey players in the area who want to aspire to play that level, thus helping the future crop grow for the rest of the NCAA.

PSA: Maryland Jerseys On Sale Now

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While this isn’t a paid product placement at all, I’ve got to let everyone know that the University of Maryland club hockey team is releasing their jerseys for sale for the month of January.

A link to their Google Form for the jersey is here and you should definitely look into getting one because they are slick as hell. At the price point of $120 plus $10 shipping, it’s a pretty decent deal to say the least.

More over, it’s to help the team out. Which they are trying to get the pride of Maryland out to the masses, it also is helping pay the teams bills. The club hockey team has to pay a lot of things out of pocket– especially for ice time and uniforms. The team set up a Go Fund Me earlier in the year to help with the costs of new white jerseys after the school ditch the script that the team had on the front of their whites. I’m assuming to stay in the good graces of the school and to get some kind of funding, the team had to change it. Rather than go out of pocket, the Go Fund Me got to about 75-80% of the goal when all was said and done, which help off-set a huge cost to the players.

At the semester break, the Terps are ranked #9 in the ACHA Southeast Division II standings with a 13-6-1 record. The team is currently on a three-game winning streak, while also winning nine of their last ten games heading into the break. In those nine wins, the Terps have outscored their opponents 53-19. The Terps will return to the ice January 19th at their home rink of the Laurel Ice Gardens to take on Rowan University.

So, get yourself a new jersey for your collection, support college club hockey, and show up to random pro games with an amazing jersey on your back. It’s a win-win-win in my book.