The Washington Capitals will be hosting their annual rookie camp this weekend, from Sept. 16 through Sept. 19. The first day of camp will be held at MedStar Capitals Iceplex, with the next three days moving to John McMullen Hockey Arena at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
The last time the Capitals visited the United States Naval Academy campus was back on Mar. 5, 2018, where the Caps took on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL Stadium Series at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Washington defeated the Leafs in a dominating 5-2 affair. The Caps also spent time on campus back in 2014 during their training camp. Players spent the day touring the facilities and had lunch with the midshipmen.
The arena was built back in 2007 and was named after Dr. John J. McMullen, who was a member of the Naval Academy Class of 1940. McMullen was a naval architect, marine engineer and the former owner of the New Jersey Devils and Houston Astros. The rink itself is an Olympic size ice sheet and can hold up to 695 spectators.
McMullen Hockey Arena is the home of the U.S. Naval Academy men’s Division I and Division II club hockey teams, as well as the women’s Division II team. The men’s Division I team competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) as a member of the Eastern Collegiate Hockey Association (ECHA) and the Division II squad plays in the College Hockey Federation (CHF) as a member of the Atlantic Coast Collegiate Hockey League (ACCHL). The women’s team competes in the ACHA women’s Division II league.
The first ever intercollegiate game that the navy and gold played was against Johns Hopkins University in 1896. Though they never competed at the NCAA level, the Midshipmen won two Intercollegiate Hockey Association championships in 1900 and 1902. The program continued to grow, and it eventually joined the Eastern Intercollegiate Hockey League (EIHL) in 1904 and won two straight league championships in 1905 and 1906.
However, in 1911, the program was halted after the EIHL disbanded in 1906 and the Midshipmen couldn’t find a consistent play schedule.
But since then, the program has been one of the top teams in each of its respective leagues. Last year, the Division I team finished with a record of 18-6-2, which was 24th nationally among 70 club teams. The Midshipmen also won the ECHA regular season, going 12-0-2 in conference play. Two seasons ago they qualified for the ACHA National tournament for the first time since 2016, when they won the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Hockey League championship.
The women’s team finished third in the ACHA going 18-3-0-1. Though it did not qualify for the national championship, Navy participated in the ACHA Division II National Pool Play.
Hopefully there will be a Naval Academy NCAA program soon.
By Jacob Cheris