Black Bears Robertson Cup Bid Ends, Drop Series to Austin

BLAINE, MN– The culmination of the 2022-23 NAHL Season took place this past week in Blaine, Minnesota at Fogerty Arena where the four playoff division winners took to the ice to battle for the Robertson Cup. The Maryland Black Bears, winners of the East Division, took on the Austin Bruins, winners of the Central Division. In a knock-down, drag-out match that took all three games to decide, the Black Bears came up short and had their season come to a close one step from the championship game. 

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Game One on Friday night saw a very slow paced game between the two squads in the first few minutes. Austin’s Matys Brassard opened the scoring with a backhanded shot that deflected off a Maryland stick and behind William Hakansson for the 1-0 lead. Brassard would also notch the second goal only eight seconds into the second period, as a dump in by Austin took an odd bounce off the boards and right to a yawning cage for Brassard. While the Black Bears tried to attack, the Austin defense stood them up at the blue, not allowing much of anything for Maryland on the attack. Ocean Wallace made it 3-0 for Austin coming out from behind the net and tucking it under Hakansson. Early in the third period, Austin’s captain Jack Malinski ripped a wrister home on the power play to make it 4-0. Maryland had 16 shots in the third period, but could not find the back of the net leading them to a Game One loss. 

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With their backs against the wall in Game Two, Maryland responded well, putting plenty of pressure on Austin’s Trent Wiemken, but were unable to net their first goal of the final four. Down the other end, Hakansson was shining with an incredible bounce-back game, making big stops in the first to keep Maryland in it. In the second period and with a carryover power play, Maryland struck as Riley Ruh got on the board tipping in a centering feed from Branden Piku to make it 1-0 Black Bears. Only 3:12 later did they strike again when Brayden Stannard, who was injured for Game One, picked up a loose puck on a delayed penalty call and ripped it through Wiemken to make it 2-0. Austin would put up pressure, but Hakansson was equal to the task, keeping his sheet clean through 40. Austin would get on the board early with Walter Zacher notching a goal to make it 2-1, but the Black Bears were blocking shots in front of Hakansson and those that got through didn’t go in, as Hakansson made 34 saves to even the series up. 

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In the all-decisive Game Three, Maryland would go down early with Zacher scoring in the first two minutes of the game to give Austin the early lead. Maryland woke up in the second half of the period, putting their physical game on display. The Black Bears were persistent on the puck, resulting in Trey Scott putting a backhanded shot from the slot over Wiemken to tie the score with under 90 seconds remaining in the period. The second period saw Austin convert on a power play, albeit controversially, when Josh Giuliani put home a rebound from a Dylan Cook shot with Cook bumping into Hakansson from his initial shot. Hakansson would bounce back, as some turnovers led to breakaways, but the Swede was strong in saving those one-on-one attempts and kept the score at 2-1. In the third frame, Austin scored in the first five minutes with Austin Salani finding the open area to make it 3-1. Maryland would get a bounce back with Ruh notching his second goal in as many games with an odd carom off the boards and behind Wiemken to make it 3-2 Austin. However, with under five minutes remaining, Austin sealed it with a Matt DeSiderio wrister from the point to make it 4-2 and winning the series two games to one. 

Even with the result in Blaine not being to the liking of the Black Bears and their followers, the season as a whole will be one to remember and one for future teams to strive to become. With the best record in franchise history, the first 40-win season, the first regular season divisional title, and the first playoff divisional title; the Black Bears showed that this team is slowly becoming a destination and an area that people will need to keep an eye on, year-in and year-out.

Black Bears Take East Division With Split in Maine

LEWISTON, ME– After a sweep at home, the Black Bears headed on the road to try and win the East Division against Maine. Knowing it wouldn’t come easy, the Black Bears used the momentum from their third period Friday into Saturday to split the weekend, but win the East Division Final three games to one and advance into the playoffs. 

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FRIDAY MAY 12th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (4) at Maine (5): The saw Maryland control the pace of the play for the start of the frame, considering they knew Maine would be throwing all they could at the Black Bears. William Hakansson was strong when Maine did have their chances in the early going, with some key saves on backdoor plays by Maine. Maryland would break the scoreless tie late in the first with Gabriel Westling getting a couple chances, but finally beating Kael DePape to make it 1-0. Less than a minute later, however, a turnover in the offensive zone gave Patrick Schmedlin the game tying goal in front. Maine would keep the pressure on with Henrik Hallberg getting the go-ahead goal for Maine off the rush and throwing it on net to beat Hakansson and make it 2-1 ahead of intermission. 

Maine would give the Maryland defense fits in the second period, with their forecheck hampering the breakout attempts by the Black Bears. That forecheck created the third goal, with Brandon Gibbons extending Maine’s lead to 3-1. Emotions picked up with four 10-minute misconducts and two fighting majors going to both sides with Maryland trying to spark something. Later in the frame, Maine would go up 4-1 with Evan Orloff pinching in and collecting a rebound to put passed Hakansson before the second intermission.

The Black Bears would switch goalies with Jack Wieneke going into the cage for the third, maybe to spark something or to rest Hakansson for a potential Game 4. It definitely sparked the Black Bears with Christian Catalano scoring 2:37 into the frame with plenty of forechecking pressure and the puck finding Catalano’s tape for his second of the playoffs. Only 1:09 later, Kaleb Tiessen got the Black Bears to within one goal with his first of the playoffs. Wieneke would keep the Black Bears in it with some crucial saves, but Hunter Fetterolf found a bit of a hole after the midway point and made it 5-3 for Maine. Maryland didn’t get down and out as less than two minutes later, Hunter Ramos redirected a Sean Kilcullen shot to make it 5-4. However, with the goalie pulled, the Black Bears couldn’t find the tying goal and were forced to a Game 4. 

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SATURDAY MAY 13th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (8) at Maine (4): Coming off a strong third period, the Black Bears started off strong with Adam Schankula tipping home a Kaleb Tiessen shot after a great face-off win by Brad McNeil only 2:36 into the first period. Maine would come back not long after, with Laurent Trepenier tucking home a rebound behind William Hakansson to tie it up. Maryland only took 13 seconds before Riley Ruh would pick up a loose puck low in the slot and fire home his first for the 2-1 Maryland lead. Twenty-three seconds after that, Kareem El-Bashir took a 2-on-1 by himself and put a backhand home to make it 3-1 Maryland. Clearly in the driver’s seat, Maryland kept the pressure going and drew a penalty late in the frame. It only took seven seconds for Maryland to connect, as Branden Piku hammered home a one-timer from Sean Kilcullen to make it 4-1 at the buzzer for the first intermission. 

Maine continued their second period from Friday night in Saturday’s game, pressuring the Black Bears defense and forcing them to make mistakes and killing any momentum the Black Bears were trying to make. Maine would cut the lead in half with Hunter Fetterolf connecting on a turnover for a 4-2 scoreline. The Black Bears would flip their switch and start getting sustained pressure in the offensive zone, which could restore their three-goal advantage with Gabriel Westling coming out from behind the net and ripping home a turnaround shot to make it 5-2 after two periods. 

The Black Bears continued their third period dominance starting with Branden Piku putting home a rebound off a Westling shot to make it 6-2. Three minutes and 33 seconds later, the Black Bears would come on in transition with Brad McNeil dumping the puck into the corner for Hunter Ramos, who wrapped it around and banked a backhand off of Kael DePape’s should to make it 7-2 Black Bears. Maine wouldn’t go away, pressing the Black Bears until they made it 7-3 with under five minutes remaining and Kim Hilmersson putting one home to cut the lead. Aidan Coupe make it 7-4 with under two minutes remaining after a turnover in zone from Maryland led to the tally. However, Westling would seal the deal with a minute remaining into the empty net for an 8-4 victory and 3-1 series win. 

The Black Bears have won the East Division and will head to the Robertson Cup final four where they will take on the reseeded third seed in Blaine, Minnesota. Stay tuned to Maryland Black Bears social media channels, @BlackBearsNAHL, for all the information on opponents and game times.

Black Bears Take 2-0 Series Lead After Home Weekend Sweep

ODENTON, MD– A rematch of the 2021 East Division Final started with a different look. The Maryland Black Bears held home-ice and were welcoming the Maine Nordiques for the first two games of the series. After a shaky start, the Black Bears finally got into their zone and swept their home start and are up two games to none in the best-of-five series.

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FRIDAY MAY 5th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Maine (2): The usual feeling out portion of the opening period, Maine was able to get their feet moving a little more with their forecheck giving Maryland fits and causing a couple of early icing calls. With sustained zone time, Maine got an offensive zone face off which turned into a set play with Nick Bernardo being the first to break the ice with a wrister from the slot to beat William Hakansson for his first goal of the playoffs. In the early going, Maine was beating Maryland in the small board battles and putting Maryland on their heels to start off with. The Black Bears would try to respond, getting their offense going and getting some shots on Thomas Heaney, but were not able to beat him in the first, going into the locker room down by a goal. 

After a less than phenomenal start, the Black Bears came out amped up in the second period, taking less than a minute to tie the game up when Adam Schankula won a board battle behind the net and found Kareem El-Bashir streaking down the slot for El-Bashir’s first NAHL playoff goal to tie the game. Minutes after that, Maryland get a power play and wasted no time, as the passing at the top of the zone led to Branden Piku hammering a one-timer only nine second into the power play and gave the Black Bears the lead. Penalty issues would arise for the Black Bears with three straight penalties against them. While they were able to kill off the first two, Brandon Gibbons would tie the game with a shot from the slot. The Black Bears tried to get some pressure on Heaney to get back ahead, but had nothing to show for it; going into the second intermission tied. 

Maryland came out, again, very quick and another board battle win– this time from Brayden Stannard– led to Dimitry Kebreau ripping home his second of the playoffs to again give Maryland the lead just 33 seconds into the third. The offense for the Black Bears would come alive in the third with plenty of opportunities in their zone with their forecheck really shaking up the Maine defense. That forechecking would lead to the fourth goal, as Gunnar VanDamme picked off a breakout pass and fired one through Heaney to give Maryland the 4-2 lead. Maine wouldn’t let up, as they would try to get something going, but Hakansson and the defense would stay strong– even with some adventurous moments at time– and retain the lead to get the series opening win. 

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SATURDAY MAY 6th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Maine (1): Knowing Maine would press hard to start, Maryland kept their heads about them, with William Hakansson coming up big early with some key stops. Maryland would get an early power play and Gabriel Westling would cash in with a wrister through traffic past Thomas Heaney to make it 1-0 Black Bears. Hakansson would be called on a couple more times in the first, with crucial saves to keep the Black Bears’ lead, while Westling and the offense were pressuring the Maine net, but to no avail by the first intermission. 

Then bounces started to go Maryland’s way, as 1:32 into the period, Samuel Stitz got credit for the Black Bears second goal when Branden Piku threw a puck on net and got deflected over Heaney to make it 2-0 Maryland. Close to midway through the period, Maryland struck again with Sean Kilcullen throwing a shot on net from the point that got through traffic and made it 3-0 for the Black Bears. However, some penalty troubles in the latter half of the frame gave Maine their first goal of the game with Oliver Genest potting his second of the playoffs off a redirect from a Maryland defender’s skate after the Black Bears penalty had expired. Maryland did get a penalty late, which carried over to the third period, as the Black Bears headed into the third up 3-1. 

After killing the early penalty, the Black Bears would attack again and get another big bounce with Adam Schankula wristing a shot on Heaney with the rebound coming back at the goal and into the net to make it 4-1 for the Black Bears. Things got fiesty at the middle part of the frame, with penalties called on both sides, but nothing to show for it. With the goalie pulled late, the Black Bears were able to seal it with Dimitry Kebreau– who missed the open net a couple chances prior– received an alley-oop pass from Riley Ruh for the dagger and the 5-1 win in Game 2. With that, the Black Bears take a 2-0 series lead and can clinch the East Division as early as Friday. 

Maryland heads to Maine for Games 3 and possibly 4 on Friday and Saturday. If they are unable to get one win in Maine, they’ll come back to Piney Orchard on Sunday for Game 5. Keep an eye on the Maryland Black Bears social media for ticket information.

Black Bears Sweep Northeast, Head to East Final

ATTLEBORO, MA– After taking two at home, the Maryland Black Bears headed up to Attleboro to take on the Northeast Generals in need of only one win to get back to the East Division Final. While Northeast made a big push back towards Maryland, the Black Bears got the job done and won 3-1 to sweep the series and move into the East Division Final. 

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The first period saw the Black Bears get out of the gate early, continuing their pressure at the Northeast net, but Cullen DeYoung was on point to start things off to keep the puck out of the net for the time being. Down the other end, William Hakansson was tested towards the middle of the frame and was equal to the task to keep his own sheet clean in the first. Late in the frame, Gabriel Westling broke the ice on the scoreboard, putting home a Brayden Stannad rebound behind DeYoung to give Maryland the lead. Pressing for another, the Black Bears were going into the intermission up by one. 

Another back-and-forth period for the second saw plenty of action in the Maryland defensive zone, with Northeast playing desperate hockey in order to tie up the game. Hakansson was solid in net and stymied the Northeast attack for the majority of the period. With under five minutes remaining, Northeast broke through with Jared Scott taking a broken play and working through the Maryland defense to even up the score. The Black Bears didn’t back down and had a big response putting pressure on DeYoung and finally broke through with 18 seconds to play in the frame Samuel Stitz picked up the loose change in front through a crowd of bodies in front and cashed in very late to give the Black Bears the 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission. 

Possession from the Black Bears ruled the day in the third period, as they protected the lead thanks to their forecheck and neutral zone play was able to stop any Northeast attack. With their feet constantly moving, they were able to draw a penalty in the middle of the frame. That allowed Christian Catalano to finally get on the goal side of the scoresheet with a one-timer set-up by Trey Scott to give the Black Bears the 3-1 lead on the insurance power play goal. With the two-goal lead, the Black Bears defense held down the rest of the game, allowing Maryland to win the game 3-1 and sweep the series 3-0, moving to the East Division Final for the second time in their franchise history. 

The Black Bears now await the winner of the Maine/New Jersey series. The series will start in Maryland and you can go to to get your tickets and help the Black Bears in their hunt for the Robertson Cup.

Black Bears Take First Two Games of Eastern Semis

ODENTON, MD– Heading into the franchise’s second playoff appearance, the Maryland Black Bears looked to get things started on home ice in a big way. Friday night proved that, but Saturday night was a little tougher. Regardless of the situation, the Black Bears shone through and swept both games in Maryland, looking to close out the series in Northeast. 

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FRIDAY APRIL 21st, 2023: BLACK BEARS (8) vs. Northeast (2): A feeling out period for the first five minutes of the game saw little sustained action in the offensive zone for either side. Maryland would get a little more comfortable on home ice while taking the first lead in the series, with Gunnar VanDamme tallying the first goal of the playoff jumping up into the play and redirecting a Brayden Stannard cross-ice pass behind Cullen DeYoung to make it 1-0 Maryland. The Black Bears got into some penalty trouble in the middle of the frame, with Northeast making them pay for one with Joseph Schubert making a power move in front of the net to tie the game with 10:33 left in the first. The Black Bears would get a power play tally of their own with Samuel Stitz getting a deflection off a Sean Kilcullen shot to make it 2-1 for the Black Bears. 

Northeast got into penalty trouble of their own in the early going, giving the Black Bears an extended two-man advantage. Maryland would cash in with Brad McNeil notching his first of the playoffs picking up the loose change in front of the net to make it 3-1 for Maryland. The Black Bears would keep pressuring the Northeast net with plenty of chances. It wouldn’t be until under the two minute mark when Stitz would pick up his second of the game with a rip from the slot past DeYoung to give Maryland the 4-1 lead going into the second intermission. 

In the third, Maryland took over emphatically. Starting 2:04 into the frame with Dimitry Kebreau streaking down the middle and getting a great placed pass from Stannard to make it 5-1 for Maryland. Just under three minutes later, McNeil would notch his second of the game off a big rebound from a Hunter Ramos shot to put the score up to 6-1 for Maryland. In the middle of the frame, Ramos got on the board himself with a highlight reel goal, dangling through the neutral zone to make it 7-1. To close it out, Stannard– who had a great night setting people up– got his name in the goal column, getting his own rebound and putting it home for the 8-1 score. William Hakansson didn’t have much action against him, but made the saves when called upon, including a big windmill glove save later into the game. With under two minutes left, Northeast would notch their second goal of the game with Paul Minnehan making it 8-2, but that would end up being the final goal of the game giving Maryland the critical Game One victory. 

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SATURDAY APRIL 22nd, 2023: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Northeast (2) OT: The Black Bears looked to continue their goal outburst from Game One and they did that just 3:03 in the first. On the power play, Sean Kilcullen potted home a redirected puck to beat Cullen DeYoung to give Maryland the early lead. Northeast would press after that point, getting quality chances on William Hakansson. Northeast finally broke through with a deflection from Ryan Schelling to level the game. However, 38 seconds later, Kilcullen intercepted a breakout pass and found Branden Piku, who cut through the defense and backhanded home his first of the playoffs and gave Maryland the lead right back. Maryland was not letting up, notching 26 shots in the first, but going into the intermission up 2-1.  

Penalty troubles for Maryland didn’t matter to start the second, as they had a couple of shorthanded chances, but nothing to show from it. Though too many penalties did Maryland in, as Northeast’s Sixten Jennersjo ripped home a shot from the tops of the circles on a 5-on-3 advantage to tied the game up at two. The Black Bears would have plenty of chances down late, but DeYoung was able to keep the game even going into the second intermission. 

More chances for Maryland as they piled on the pressure, but Brad McNeil, Hunter Ramos, and Branden Piku’s chances could not get through the defense or DeYoung. Northeast would have a big opportunity after Kaleb Tiessen got a major and game misconduct, but the Maryland penalty kill was up for the challenge and killed the major while getting a few chances of their own. McNeil, Ramos, and Kareem El-Bashir had glorious chances late in the frame, but all their chances went wide. With two seconds left, Northeast had an amazing chance, but the glove of Hakansson denied them, sending it into overtime. 

A very back-and-forth at the start of overtime for each side, but yielded nothing as a result. Northeast had a power play just past the midway point, but the penalty kill and Hakansson would keep the game going. After the Maryland penalty, the Black Bears got a power play of their own. On the regrouping rush back into the offensive zone, Christian Catalano’s drive to the net was denied, the rebound came out to Trey Scott who threw it towards the net and Brad McNeil got the last touch at the side of the net to send the Black Bears’ fans home happy with a 3-2 overtime win and 2-0 series lead heading up to Northeast. 

The series shifts to Attleboro for Games Three and, if necessary, Four on Wednesday and Thursday. If a Game Five is needed, it will take place Saturday April 29th at Piney Orchard. For ticket information, is the resource you need.

Skoog Signs AHL Deal; Becomes First Black Bears Alum to Sign North American Deal

In a record breaking season, the Maryland Black Bears can add another milestone to their season and franchise with their first alumni signing a pro contract in North America. Wilmer Skoog (2019-20) signed a one-year AHL deal with the Florida Panthers and will play with the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL for the 2023-24 season. 

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Skoog, 23, played only 24 games for the Black Bears in 2019-20 after coming over from Minot, but he made a big impact on the team. Skoog hit the record books with the first hat trick in Black Bears’ history September 14th, 2019 against New Jersey. The Stockholm, Sweden native had 15 goals and 18 assists in his 24 games before departing midseason to play for Boston University. Skoog played 103 games with Boston University since 2020, registering 40 goals and 76 points in that time frame. 

While he’ll be the first to play in a professional league in North America, the Black Bears do have alumni who have played professional hockey elsewhere. Lukas Ljungblom (2018-19) played with IF Molndal in Division 2 of the Swedish leagues, Karim Del Ponte (2018-19) is currently playing for HC La Chaux-de-Fonds in Division 2 of the Swiss leagues, and Asper Petersen (2018-19) played in the Danish top league for one season. Former goalie David Tomeo (2018-19) has suited up for AHL games as an emergency goalie, but never got into a game. 

In only their fifth season, the Black Bears are helping churn out professional players and prospects to the NHL. With this being the first wave of players, it is only just the beginning for Black Bears alumni getting to their hockey goals and proving that Maryland was a prime destination for development to the next step of hockey.

Black Bears Split With Danbury Heading Into Playoffs

ODENTON, MD– After last weekend’s idle week, the Black Bears came back to the ice for their final regular season match-up knowing they were the first seed in the East and knowing who they’d take on in the first round. With that, the Black Bears rested some of their players on the weekend as they took on the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. When all was said and done, Maryland took three of four points on the weekend heading into the playoffs on a positive note. 

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FRIDAY APRIL 14th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Danbury (3) SO: Giving Brad McNeil, Christian Catalano, Hunter Ramos, Sean Kilcullen, and Gunnar VanDamme the night off, that gave the depth of the Black Bears time to shine, as well as some tendered contracted players in Sebastien Brockman, Jack Darby, and Brody Simko.

Maryland was able to control some of the offensive play with plenty of shots at the Danbury net, but Thomas Kiesewetter was equal to the tasks in the early going. However, thanks to a turnover created by Jesse Horacek, the Black Bears got on the board first with Kareem El-Bashir picking up his own rebound and potted a backhanded shot over Kiesewetter to make it 1-0 Maryland halfway through the first. The Black Bears got a couple power plays later in the frame, but were unable to find the back of the net before the end of the first period. 

Getting started early, the Black Bears made it 2-0 when the board work from Samuel Stitz and Riley Ruh ended with Gabriel Westling going backhand over Kiesewetter only 1:24 into the second period. Danbury started to get a little more active offensively, but William Hakansson was solid in the cage, with the Black Bears defense really keeping shots to the outside, making it easy for Hakansson to see and snag. While Maryland did have some power play chances through the period, they still had nothing to show as the game went to the second intermission with Maryland up 2-0. 

In the third, the bounces went against the Black Bears. Starting 4:50 into the frame with Danbury getting on the board as Chase Sandu picked up a rebound that ricocheted off the back boards and put it into the net to make it 2-1. While Maryland tried to find an insurance goal, Kiesewetter was able to do all he could to keep Danbury in the game. His work would pay off for Danbury, as they would even the game on the power play with Logan Nickerson getting a bounce off a Black Bear defender’s skate to get past Hakansson to even the game. With both sides getting short power plays after that, neither could do anything with it, which put this game into overtime. 

For the extra frame, Maryland dominated in part to a power play in the middle of the period. Unfortunately for the Black Bears, their attempts didn’t find the back of the net and Danbury held off the onslaught to force a shootout. In the skills competition, Danbury netted two of their three shots, while Maryland was blanked on their two attempts, giving Danbury the 3-2 victory. 

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SATURDAY APRIL 15th 2023: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Danbury (0): On this night, those who sat out Friday jumped back in with Dimitry Kebreau, Trey Scott, Kaleb Tiessen, Luke Amell, and Brayden Stannard given the night off.

The game started not so great, as a double-minor was given to Maryland and they were instantly on the penalty kill. However, the Black Bears showed they were as lethal shorthanded by notching their 17th shorthanded goal as a team of the year thanks to Kareem El-Bashir carrying the puck deep in the zone, drawing the defenders, then finding Samuel Stitz out in front for his 11th of the season to give Maryland the 1-0 lead. Jack Wieneke was stellar in the first, making some solid saves to keep the score at 1-0 going into the break. 

A back-and-forth second saw Danbury get some better quality shots, but Wieneke was able to turn them aside to keep his sheet clean. Midway through the first on a delayed call, Gunnar VanDamme found Branden Piku streaking down the slot, as Piku notched his 17th of the season to give the Black Bears a 2-0 advantage. Tempers started to flare up a bit towards the end of the second, with both sides getting their shots in, while also getting some penalty time for their troubles, as well. Like Friday night, the Black Bears went into the second intermission up 2-0. 

With three straight penalties, the Black Bears didn’t do themselves any favors. However, the penalty kill limited any chances by keeping the puck to the outside when it was in their defensive zone. The second half of the period, Danbury got into penalty trouble of their own, allowing Maryland to extend the lead. Riley Ruh picked up a loose puck in the slot and put home his sixth of the season to give Maryland the 3-0 lead. It was academic for the Black Bears at that point, by keeping the puck in their offensive zone; allowing only three shots on Wieneke in the third en route to the 3-0 victory. 

The win for the Black Bears finished off their most successful season with 40 wins, top spot in the East Division for the regular season, among countless personal records set by the players this season. 

Work doesn’t stop here, as the playoffs begin this Friday as Maryland will take on Northeast Friday and Saturday at The Den. Go to to get your seats for this first round match-up, as the Black Bears search for their first Robertson Cup championship.

Black Bears Sweep Rebels in Last Regular Season Road Trip

SEWELL, NJ– In their last road trip of the regular season, the Maryland Black Bears looked to stay perfect when traveling to Hollydell to take on the Rebels. It did take a little work, but the depth and perseverance of Maryland shone through with a sweep of the Rebels and going closer to the regular season East Division title. 

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FRIDAY MARCH 31st, 2023: BLACK BEARS (5) at Philadelphia (2): It took just 3:32 for Maryland to get on the board with Dimitry Kebreau registering the first goal that ricocheted off the glass behind Jakub Krbecek, hitting Krbecek in the back and into the net for a wacky first goal. Maryland then got plenty of push-back from the Rebels, who held the puck in their offensive zone for a decent amount of time, not allowing the Black Bears to gain any momentum when they did get out of their own zone. The pressure paid off for the Rebels as Sonny DiNubile threw a puck on goal from the point that went through a maze of bodies in-front and passed William Hakansson to tie the game. While the Rebels tried to find the goal against goal, the transition game for Maryland was stronger, with Riley Ruh wiring a wrister behind Krebeck for his fifth of the year and to give the Black Bears back the lead heading into the intermission. 

In the second period, the Black Bears got into some penalty troubles in the middle of the frame, but the Black Bears were able to kill off those attempts and keep their lead. It wasn’t until 3:06 remaining in the frame when the Rebels would tie up the game again with David Deputy would block a shot and get sprung on a breakaway where he would get it behind Hakansson for the 2-2 tally. The Black Bears only took 1:16 to regain the lead after a solid breakout ended with Jesse Horacek leading Kebreau in the slot for a slight redirect for Kebreau’s second of the game and a 3-2 scoreline heading into the third period. 

Though the first two periods weren’t the normal for the Black Bears, they would kick into another gear for the third period, adding to their lead 4:29 in when Sean Kilcullen’s cross-ice pass found Hunter Ramos coming down the blindside for Ramos’ 20th of the season. Maryland would add onto their lead on the power play with solid movement around the zone ending with Brad McNeil notching his 17th of the year off a feed from Ramos making it 5-2. Maryland would continue the pressure, outshooting the Rebels 15-7, but it would end 5-2 for the Black Bears, giving them their 38th win of the season. Hakansson had 24 saves in his 25th victory of the season. 

SATURDAY APRIL 1st, 2023: BLACK BEARS (4) at Philadelphia (3): Building off their strong third period Friday, Maryland would get out of the gate early with an early power play allowing them to control the offensive zone despite not getting a goal out of the first power play. The Black Bears would strike first again, as Kal Essenmacher deflected a Trey Scott shot to give Maryland the 1-0 lead. Maryland would hold serve for most of the period, outshooting the Rebels 14-3, but only showing a 1-0 lead going into the intermission. 

The Black Bears continued their press at the Rebels goal, but it was the Rebels who would cash in on their chances. Starting only 4:39 into the second, Carter Casper hammered a one-timer off a cross-ice pass to tie the game. Only 44 seconds later, Connor Sedlak would come over the blue line and throw a wrister high to beat William Hakansson to give the Rebels the lead. The Black Bears would get plenty of chances in the frame, but Jakub Krbecek was solid in the second for the Rebels. Some penalty issues in the frame bit the Black Bears at the end, as Greg Spitznagel would throw a low-wrister on net from the left circle and make it 3-1 Rebels going into the break. 

With work to do, the Black Bears got things going early. After a big save by William Hakansson on an odd-man rush, the Black Bears went down the ice where Riley Ruh found Hunter Ramos only 25 seconds in to cut the Rebels lead in half. With momentum, the Black Bears would draw a penalty and convert on their chance with Christian Catalano ripping home his 30th of the season with a wrister in the slot to tie the game up. The comeback would be complete for the Black Bears with Jesse Horacek holding the puck on the blue line, waiting of Gunnar VanDamme streaking through the neutral zone then wiring a shot passed Krbecek to give Maryland the 4-3 lead. Hakansson made a couple of clutch saves down the stretch to help keep the lead and garner the 39th win of the season for the Black Bears. The Black Bears won all six games they played on the road in Hollydell. 

The Black Bears are off next weekend, but return home for their last regular season games against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Tickets are available at as the Black Bears prepare for the Robertson Cup playoffs.

Black Bears Salvage Split with Northeast

ODENTON, MD– In what could be a preview of the first round, the Maryland Black Bears welcomed the Northeast Generals in their last regular season meeting. While it was a grind between the two squads, it was a push for the series; with each team taking a game on the weekend. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY MARCH 24, 2023: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Northeast (6): Maryland got off to a solid start, putting plenty of chances on Cullen DeYoung thanks to forwards getting behind the defenders to create breaks. However, DeYoung was equal to the task and kept his scoresheet at zero. Northeast would break through with Matthew DeSpirt hammering home a rebound off of William Hakansson’s pad to make it 1-0. Despite chances after the goal, the Black Bears went into the first intermission down. 

Maryland continued to push in the second period, finally breaking through past the midway point with Adam Schankula tipping home a Trey Scott shot for his 11th of the year. However, during the goal celebration, the Black Bears started their penalty woes for the frame. While they killed off the first penalty, Frank D’Ancona put home his seventh to give Northeast the lead. With back-to-back penalties to put themselves down two men, Northeast struck twice in 1:22 with Ryan Remick and David Andreychuk putting home power play goals and giving Northeast the 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission. It would be the end of Hakansson’s night with Jack Wieneke starting the third.

Starting early in the frame, the Black Bears cut the lead in half with Dimitry Kebreau notching his 22nd off a great pass from Samuel Stitz in front to make it 4-2. While Wieneke did his best to keep the Black Bears in it, Jake LaRusso would make the most of a turnover in the Black Bears zone and rifled one past Wieneke to make it 5-2 Generals. Then things started to break down with both squads started to get into the playoff spirit with some scrums after the whistle, including a fight off the face off with Caleb Craven and Nick Ramm. Another penalty late for Maryland sealed it for Northeast with Andreychuk netting another power play goal to give Northeast the 6-2 victory. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY MARCH 25, 2023: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Northeast (1): Knowing they needed a jump, the Black Bears offense started strong, as they always do trying to get to Cullen DeYoung early. It wasn’t until the 12:24 mark until the Black Bears struck with Dimitry Kebreau scoring a goal that ricocheted off the back of the back bar so quickly, the referee initially called it a no-goal. After much discussion, the goal counted and it was 1-0 Black Bears. Only 2:07 later is when Maryland would extend the lead with Adam Schankula getting a loose puck in front and putting it home for his 12th of the season and giving Maryland the 2-0 lead after one. William Hakansson was back in net and played stellar in the first, stopping all seven shots he faced. 

Northeast would get on the board early in the second, as Andrew DellaDonna scored 34 seconds into the period to cut the lead in half. Maryland would get into some penalty trouble, but the penalty kill stood strong and supported Hakansson on the puck. Maryland would have their big chances later on in the frame, but couldn’t find the net behind DeYoung in the middle stanza. 

The third had some quick chances for Northeast, but Hakansson would be strong in net, keeping the game at one-goal; but the Maryland offense wouldn’t be denied. As they kept peppering the net, it was better late than never with Christian Catalano patiently outwaiting the defense and DeYoung to make it 3-1 on his 29th of the season. With only one second remaining and the goalie pulled, Gabriel Westling would notch the empty net goal and secure the Black Bears 4-1 victory in a split of the weekend. 

Maryland now goes on the road for their last road trip of the regular season against the Philadelphia Rebels on Friday and Saturday nights.

Black Bears Dominate Johnstown in Three-Game Sweep

ODENTON, MD– In their final match-up against Johnstown in the regular season, the Maryland Black Bears looked to clinch a playoff spot with at least two wins on the weekend. Maryland got greedy and took at three games to sweep the weekend and clinched a berth into the Robertson Cup playoffs. 

It also marked the head coaching debut of Kim Weiss, who is the associate head coach for Maryland, but was taking over as acting head coach due to the absence of Clint Mylymok. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY MARCH 17th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (6) vs. Johnstown (1): The Black Bears jumped out to an early offensive push, with solid puck movement and decent chances at even strength and shorthanded, but nothing got by Adam Johnson in the first half of the period. Just past the midway point, Christian Catalano got things going with a big wrister behind Johnson to give Maryland the 1-0 lead. A late power play put the Black Bears in the driver’s seat with Luke Van Why hammering home a one-timer for his 13th of the year and a 2-0 Maryland lead. However, 32 seconds later, Johnstown would get on the board with David Matousek putting home a rebound to cut the Black Bears lead in half going into the 1st intermission. 

In the second period, the Black Bears’ offense exploded starting 2:33 into the period with Caleb Craven, who was moved to forward due to roster constraints, having all the patience in the world to outwait Johnson and put a backhand home for his first NAHL goal and gave Maryland a 3-1 lead. Discipline was a factor for Maryland late, but the Black Bears responded with a shorthanded goal from Catalano, who picked up his own rebound off a mini-breakaway to make it 4-1 for the Black Bears, giving Maryland their 14th shorthanded goal of the season. The pressure continued with Brad McNeil notching his 15th of the year at the side of the net thanks to Maryland’s relentless puck movement putting them up 5-1. To end the frame, Sean Kilcullen fired home his eighth of the season off great passing from Adam Schankula and Kareem El-Bashir to give the Black Bears a 6-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. 

Penalties reared their ugly head for Maryland in the third, with four straight calls against the team. However, the penalty kill and William Hakansson were solid in their own end and held off the power play from Johnstown to preserve the 6-1 lead, then into the 6-1 victory to start off the weekend series. Hakansson made 24 saves in the victory. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY MARCH 18th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Johnstown (1): Knowing what they were up against, the Black Bears got things going 41 seconds in with Hunter Ramos notching his 19th of the season with a power move to the net and ripping one past Alec Rajalin-Sharp for the early Maryland lead. The offense for Maryland kept control of the period with great work around the offensive zone while protecting William Hakansson and the defensive zone. With under five minutes remaining, Kaleb Tiessen got on the board with a wicked wrist shot from the left circle to make it 2-0 for the Black Bears. 

Maryland continued their hold on the offensive zone, with plenty of pressure and shots towards Rajalin-Sharp. They were able to tally their third goal with Adam Schankula getting sprung by Kareem El-Bashir allowing Schankula to go forehand, backhand, and into the net for his ninth of the year to give Maryland the 3-0 lead. The only blemish on the Black Bears was a turnover in their own zone off the breakout, allowing Maryland-native Will Lawrence to put home his 11th of the season and make it a 3-1 game. The Black Bears shook that off and controlled the offense to the end of the second period, but went into the locker room with the 3-1 lead. 

The offensive dominance continued for Maryland, holding the puck in the Johnstown zone for the majority of the period again. They would regain their three-goal lead with El-Bashir putting home his fifth of the season on a nice wrap-around after a lead pass from Schankula allowed him to use his momentum around the net and into a 4-1 lead. It wouldn’t stop there, as Riley Ruh was able to power home his fourth of the year behind Rajalin-Sharp to make it 5-1 for the Black Bears. After that, things got plenty feisty on both sides with five players– three for Johnstown, two for Maryland– receiving 10-minute misconducts with under six minutes to play in the period. Despite that, Hakansson went on to record 14 saves in a 5-1 victory for the Black Bears.

With that win, the Black Bears were able to secure a playoff berth into the Robertson Cup playoffs, their second playoff berth in franchise history. 

SUNDAY MARCH 19th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (6) vs. Johnstown (1): Jack Wieneke got the start on Sunday and faced some solid shots from Johnstown early, but a couple of big saves on top notch shots kept the game scoreless early. The feistiness kicked off in game three with Magnus Gadowsky and Zach Hixon getting into it with Gadowsky getting the decision. That sparked the Black Bears with Brad McNeil opening the scoring with a strong push to the front of the net and picking up the rebound for his 16th of the year. Maryland got into penalty trouble late in the 1st, but were able to hold off the attack and go into the intermission up 1-0. 

It only took 10 seconds in the middle frame for Maryland to strike, with Jesse Horacek taking a misplayed puck by Adam Johnson and putting it into the open cage to make it 2-0 Black Bears. Their only power play in the middle frame, the Black Bears made short work of that with Adam Schankula tipping a Dimitry Kebreau shot that then trickled past the line for a 3-0 Black Bears lead. After that, more fisticuffs with Raymond Perrault and Ryan Vellucci getting into it with a stalemate decision. Johnstown would get some life, peppering the Maryland net, but Wieneke was strong and kept a clean sheet through 40. 

Johnstown finally got on the board on the power play with Anthony Galante tapping one in at the side of the net to make it 3-1. However, Maryland didn’t let it get to them, as they withstood a surge from Johnstown, but turned it into a power play goal themselves with under five minutes to play. Horacek would find a rebound off a Gunnar VanDamme shot for his second of the game and a 4-1 lead. Only 20 seconds later, Samuel Stitz would notch his 10th of the year with a rebound off a scrum in front to make it 5-1, while Kareem El-Bashir would finish the scoring with 1:08 remaining with a great, patient play to rip home his sixth of the year to give Maryland the 6-1 win. Wieneke made 35 saves for the victory. 

The Black Bears are back home this Friday and Saturday against the Northeast Generals. Tickets are available at to get the hottest ticket in AA County.