Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend: Crabpot Tournament Edition

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS vs. UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

The Tigers have had a very rough season. Their goal differential is a minus-121, they have given up an average of 55.8 shots a game (1732 in 31 games), and only have one player who has double-digits in goal scoring. Obviously, defense is an issue, but all things considered; Jacob Snyder and Kevin Mackey have done all they could in net for this team and still had a team save percentage of .901 on the year. Offense wasn’t been grand either, with Ryan Dieter being the biggest contributor– as he has been for his four years at Towson. With Dieter and Matt Curtin leaving, the big stalwarts of the offense staying is going to be Costa Pizanis and Collin Mercier; who have been good…but consistency is king.

When it comes to the Terps, things were going well until Chris Bouchard left due to mid-season graduation. After Bouchard’s departure, the Terps only scored 11 goals in seven games (1-6-0)– one of which was a 7-goal output against Delaware– and they were shutout in three game during that stretch. However, Liam Eden had a quietly solid season with 13 goals and 26 assists, while Evan Yamaguchi was hot at the start of the year, but kind of faded through the season. Griffin Connolly had a strong second-half which kind of got Maryland a nice shot in the arm late.

PREDICTION: Though these teams are struggling, this could be a solid match-up with both having a lot to prove. Towson wants to not lose to a lower division team, while Maryland would love to beat a D1 team at the end of the year. At the end though, I think Towson comes out on top only due to the lack of offense Maryland has out out in this semester.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN vs. STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS

Navy has been at the top of their game this season, making sure that they are in a prime position in the playoffs, which they are hosting, next weekend and it’s paid off. Even going into the season with two untested goalies in Charles Doherty and Casey McCormick; those worries were put to rest as both keepers have been stellar with both having above .925 save percentages and sub-2.40 GAAs. Sophomore Joe Kelly and freshman Conner Hyden have been a solid duo offensively, leading the way for scoring; while John Scaccia and Brendan Reynolds have been great on the back-end.

One of the better stories coming out of Maryland hockey has been the ACHA Mustangs. Head coach Mike Urgo’s team doubled their win total from last year, had the best season in the short team history of this squad, and won three games against European pro teams during Thanksgiving. They are a part of the growing culture of hockey that Stevenson is growing. This is also a gun-slinging team that scored five-or-more goals ten times this season; Mark Bowen, Brandan Scholze, and Ian Malone leading the way. More over, Stevenson had ten players in double digits in points, while Pierce Dushenko was good when called upon, finishing with a .912 save percentage in the process.

PREDICTION: While it’s a tough one to pick, I may have to give the edge to Navy. Both teams are hungry, they have a lot of heart, and there’s plenty of skill on each side. That said, I think the goaltending will be a big factor and the skill is a touch better in the Mids side of things.

CRABPOT FINAL PREDICTION: In my scenario, Navy takes on Towson– to which I have to go with Navy in that one. Navy had beaten the Tigers 6-0 and 7-1 this season and I don’t see the Mids slowing up one bit if they have to take on the Tigers for a third time.

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.