There are seven freshmen starters on Navy's club ice hockey team, but with the help of their senior leaders the Midshipmen have won eight of their past nine games.
"I'm very impressed with the boys," fourth-year coach Michael Fox said. "A couple of games we lost earlier were just youthful mistakes and just trying to use the new system we're working with."
As of Nov. 11, Navy had a 10-5 record, 5-2 in the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association, tied with Lehigh for second place behind Stony Brook.
Commander Patrick Murray, director of hockey operations, attributed much of the team's success to its senior leaders, particularly captain Sam Carlson. Carlson, a center, and junior forward Jim Tumolo are leading the team in goals with 11 each. Murray said Tumolo is having a breakout year with a league-best 25 points, already surpassing the 15 he had last season.
Murray also complimented the early success of the team's younger players -- freshmen Thomas Krysil and Tommy Reed, as well as the aggressive play and good checking of sophomore Doug Dietrich, whom he called the team sparkplug because of his ability to motivate other players.
The Midshipmen have two assistant captains, seniors Stevie Csutoros and Matt Roberts. Csutoros, named the "Unsung Hero" of last year's team, has continued in that role this season, with nine assists to his one goal as of Nov. 11. Roberts anchors the defense.
"I can't say enough about this team and the leadership with Sammy Carlson as captain and Csutoros as assistant along with Roberts and some of the underclassmen that are juniors," Fox said. "They're staying with the program and they're guiding the young ones."
Junior goalkeeper Jameson Marshall has a .90 save percentage as of Nov. 11 in 551.23 minutes. Freshman goalie Andrew Mills has also earned playing time and has a .91 save percentage in 348.20 minutes. Murray said the team has never seen so many freshmen start, especially early in a season.
Navy's next two games are against Drexel, a home-and-home series Nov. 19 in Annapolis and Nov. 20 in Philadelphia. The Midshipmen still have a long way to go before playoffs begin in February.
"The ultimate goal is to win the league," Murray said. "We haven't had a victory in our own tournament in a couple years, so we'd like to win that. If you don't win in the ECHA, you can still qualify for the nationals by being ranked in the top 16 in the country."
Navy was listed among others receiving votes in the Nov. 5 ACHA Top 25 rankings, and Stony Brook was No. 18. Fox said it was possible for the Midshipmen to finish first in the ECHA, but their biggest challenge would be to beat the Seawolves during their Feb. 11 rematch.
"We hope we win [the conference] and we win it big," he said. "But even if we stumble, as long as we're learning and getting better, that's the way we're looking at it this year."
Fox said he measured his players' success not only on the ice, but also in the classroom. The team's 2009-10 cumulative GPA was 3.19.
Issue 155: November 2010