Navy got a big lift from reserve goalie Scott Bartkowski and rallied from two goals down to beat fourth-ranked Army, 10-9, before 3,740 drenched fans at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
Phil Skalniak scored his fourth goal of the game off a pass from Michael Ray to break a tie with 40 seconds left. It was the third straight one-goal victory in the series.
Navy opened an early 6-1 lead, but Army's physical defense, led by goalie George Slabowski, then held Navy to one goal in 37 minutes. Thus, the Cadets came back slowly and finally went ahead, 8-7, on Pete Short's unassisted goal with 4:13 remaining in the third quarter.
Bartkowski made six saves, three from point-blank range, but his teammates couldn't convert on numerous extra-man situations. Bruce Seitz finally found Tom Calabrese open in front of the Army net to make it a 9-9 game with 4:21 to play.
Bartkowski and Slabowski then exchanged saves before Skalniak's game-winner.
"(Starting goalie Steve) Nims lost his composure in the third period and Bart's been there before," Navy Coach Bryan Matthews said. "He came in and shut the door, and that turned the momentum around."
Unranked Navy opened its 6-1 lead on two goals each by Bob Bianchi (11 this season) and Skalniak (19), another by team leader Rich Wehman (21) and Seitz's easy shot off a length-of-field pass by defender John Rupt.
Frank Giordano and Pete Short brought Army back with two apiece and, just after Navy missed a two-man advantage opportunity, Short put his side ahead, 8-7.
P.J. O'Sullivan and Wehman traded goals before Calabrese and Skalniak decided it.
"Once the momentum went against us, we didn't give up," Matthews said. "The defense has taken time to jell, but they had a great second half . . . Seitz has been so consistent and when Skalniak is hot, he is good as any middie (midfielder) around. This game showed what a week off can do for us." A week ago, Navy was a 14-12 loser to Princeton.
The Midshipmen will play host to Maryland Saturday at 2 p.m.