Four Unanswered From New Jersey Down the Black Bears 6-5

MIDDLETOWN, NJ– In a rare midweek match-up, the Maryland Black Bears travelled up to Middletown, New Jersey to visit the New Jersey Titans on Tuesday night in a match-up of the top-two teams in the East Division. In the sixth match-up between the two, New Jersey scored four unanswered goals, three of them in the third, to beat the Black Bears 6-5

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

TUESDAY JANUARY 25th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) at New Jersey (6): Renewing their pleasantries, the Black Bears and Titans had a feeling out time between each other with Michael Morelli and Andrew Takacs being tested early, but making key saves to start. Even with chances, there was a little rough stuff, as Aden Bruich and Tyler Sanborn got into a scuffle that got them a five-and-ten penalty. Maryland were the first to strike, with Jack Blanchett able to find some time and space pinching in on the rush to get his seventh of the season and give the Black Bears an early lead. New Jersey took that as their wake-up call, as they started to press offensively thanks to a power play. They would finally break through with a solid passing play in transition that ended with Brendan Dumas putting home his 15th of the year to tie the game. Maryland did get some shake-ups as both Ryan Bottrill and Laker Aldridge got taken down and both missed some time– Aldridge getting the worst of it after a hard hit against the boards, which drew a penalty. On the ensuing power play, Jacob Brockman cashed in after a great set-up by Kevin Scott on a one-timer to make it 2-1. Moments later, Miles Gunty made it 3-1 after a frantic shooting gallery in front ended with Gunty picking up the loose puck and putting it behind Takacs. 

New Jersey got things going quickly thanks to a carryover penalty and quick passing off their sticks, with Anthony Calafiore finishing a tic-tac-toe passing effort to cut Maryland’s lead to just one. Maryland got the two-goal lead back off a turnover in the neutral zone to get a three-on-one into the Titans zone that saw Branden Piku finish off the Black Bears tic-tac-toe effort from Bruich and Bottrill. Just 11 seconds later, Tyler Young picked off a passing attempt by New Jersey and took it in alone, beating Takacs to make it 5-2. Maryland kept pressing and getting plenty of chances to extend the lead, but Takacs was sure to not let up the next goal. After the midway point of the frame, the Titans got a goal back on a transition breakout with Blake Farrell getting the rebound from a Tommy Bannister shot that  cut the Maryland lead to two. While New Jersey pressed hard to get another goal before period’s end, Morelli and the defense kept chances to a minimum and kept the game at 5-3 into the second intermission. 

Trying to hold things off, Maryland withstood some solid chances by the Titans, leading to some big saves from Morelli early in the period. However, a Maryland penalty led to a New Jersey power play goal thanks to a backdoor pass from Dumas to Calafiore to make it a one-goal game. Another costly penalty on Maryland resulted in another New Jersey power play goal, as Chris Carroll deflected a Dumas shot to tie the game at 5s. Maryland was able to wake-up offensively, starting to break the defensive scheme by New Jersey and getting some things towards the net, but it didn’t yield much for scoring. New Jersey battled late and were able to come all the way back after a turnover in the defensive zone led to Calafiore finishing off his hat trick to make it a 6-5 game. While Maryland pulled Morelli late and had some chances, they couldn’t find the equalizer and drop a heartbreaker of a game 6-5. 

The Black Bears will need a short memory of this, as the Johnstown Tomahawks come to town on Friday and Saturday with tickets for the game available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com from the Severn Bank Ticket Center. 

Black Bears Take Three Points in Jamestown to Start Wild Week

JAMESTOWN, NY– To start off one of their busiest stretches, the Maryland Black Bears went to Jamestown to take on the Rebels. After a sweep earlier this season, the Black Bears and Rebels faced off in a spirited match-up Friday, with Maryland taking control on Saturday– leading to a three-point weekend for the Black Bears with a loss in extra time and win on the weekend. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY JANUARY 21st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Jamestown (4) SO: The Black Bears got a small jump to start, trying to shake off the bus legs on the travel to Northwest New York. However, the Rebels would be the first to get on the board as John Lundy tipped a Peter Klemm shot over the shoulder of Luca Di Pasquo for the quick lead. Maryland then got sucked into penalty troubles, as they had four minors called on them in the 1st period alone. While the penalty kill did yield an Elliott Lareau chance, it gave up a goal not long after as the Rebels stretched the ice and ended with Lundy getting his second goal of the game to make it 2-0 heading into the intermission. 

A feisty second period to start, as there were two fights in the first 5:09 in the frame. First, Tyler Young took on Roux Bazin and got the decision; while Brad McNeil then took on Mitch Lafay and landed a big right to get the decision there. Maryland was able to get some kind of spark off of that, as they were able to get some chances in on the Jamestown goal before they broke through midway through. Laker Aldridge got a rebound off the end-boards from a Matthew Davies shot and put it past Jon Howe to get Maryland on the board. While Maryland continued to press, Jamestown’s defense was able to hold the Black Bears out of the danger areas and frustrated the Black Bears a bit. However, a late penalty from Maryland yielded another power play goal with Jak Vaarwerk finding a loose puck that squeaked through Di Pasquo and led to a tap-in and 3-1 Rebels’ lead into the second intermission. 

Most of the third period was Jamestown and Maryland keeping each other at bay with plenty of board play and tight checking. Maryland had another big chance shorthanded with Aden Bruich, but he hit the post after beating Howe. The Rebels defense continued to give Maryland fit, but with 2:30 remaining, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo and it gave some results. First, McNeil was able to notch his first goal since October 8th (21 games) by tracking the loose puck to pull the Black Bears within one. After getting the puck in the Jamestown zone, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo again, the Black Bears were looking for the equalizer and almost got it from McNeil, but he couldn’t beat the post. However, after a great, jumping keep by Jack Blanchett at the blue line, Lareau was able to find the puck in the slot and score from his knees to tie the game with 11.9 seconds left and give the Black Bears a point. 

While overtime had a couple of good chances from both sides, it didn’t figure in the decision leading to a shootout. Branden Piku and Ryan Bottril couldn’t convert while Vaarwerk and Nolan Grier were able to, giving Jamestown the extra point and the win. Though the comeback came up short, Maryland had plenty of momentum going into Saturday night’s rematch. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY JANUARY 22nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Jamestown (1): While the first part of the period was a bit of a 50/50 match-up, the Black Bears did seem to have more fight in them than Jamestown. Maryland was sparked by some early saves by Michael Morelli in the first, keeping it scoreless to start the game. After the midway point, the Black Bears took over, first with Aden Bruich streaking down the wing, powering towards the net, and putting it over the near shoulder of Jon Howe to get first blood. Maryland kept the pressure on, building off their goal, giving Jamestown fits. It would yield another goal, as Branden Piku put home his 16th of the year off a fantastic pass by Ryan Bottrill, as Bottrill drew the defense, giving Piku more time and space. Only 32 seconds later, Brad McNeil was able to pot his second goal in as many nights, putting home his own rebound after another power move by Bruich to draw some attention. It would be the end of Howe’s night just before the intermission. 

The pressure kept on from Maryland at the start of the second, with plenty of shots on new goalie Nolan Suggs. They would break through Suggs, as on a delayed call, Piku got his second of the game, picking up a loose puck at the side of the net to make it 4-0 for the Black Bears. While Maryland kept their motor going, penalties crept back in for the Black Bears, as a two back-to-back penalties against– including a four-minute high sticking call– forced them to an extended two-man disadvantage; but they were able to hold off the Rebels attack, keeping them to the outside and not letting and top chances get to Morelli. End of the frame ended with Maryland up 4-0. 

Jamestown came out on all cylinders in the third, putting Maryland on their heels a bit and drawing some penalties against Maryland. Even with that, the PK and Morelli were strong and kept the zero on the board. It wasn’t until past the midway point where Jamestown got on the board, with Max Hamstad finding the puck at the back of the net and firing a perfectly placed shot over Morelli’s shoulder to make it 4-1. The Black Bears fought back, with plenty of shots towards the Jamestown cage, while also keeping them at bay. Morelli made some solid saves and great reads with his stick, which led him to his 10th win of the season. 

No rest for the wicked, as Maryland will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to play the Titans in a one-off game, then come back home to take on the Johnstown Tomahawks in a rivalry match-up.

In Battle of the East’s Best, Maryland Takes Three of Four Points

ODENTON, MD– Getting back from holiday break, the Maryland Black Bears didn’t wait to get into it, as they took on the top team in the East in the New Jersey Titans. With some highlight reel goals along the way and solid blocks defensively, the Black Bears were able to take three of four points in a weekend split. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY JANUARY 7th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. New Jersey (4) OT: After 20 days of no hockey, both these teams took the ice and you could see that one shook off the rust a little faster in the first frame. The Titans took the play to the Black Bears to start, despite a good first couple shift for Maryland. New Jersey were able to get behind the defense a couple times and get odd-man rushes. Luckily, Michael Morelli was sharp and kept the Titans at bay to start the game. The Black Bears would wake up towards the middle of the frame and finally find the back of the net, as newly acquired Jack Blanchett came in from the point the wired on past Andrew Takacs for his first goal as a Black Bear. Maryland was able to control the pace in the latter part of the frame, but Takacs was able to keep it a one-goal game. 

Maryland couldn’t add to their strong finish, as New Jersey got onto the Black Bears early and their persistence led to them tying the game on an odd-man rush and Anthony Calafiore scoring as a trailer on the rush. New Jersey continued to press, so much that they drew a penalty at the mid-point of the frame. Maryland did give New Jersey some issues when it came to their power play, creating some shorthanded opportunities; but with some sustained pressure late, Stephen Willey was able to bank home a rebound in front, just as the penalty expired to give New Jersey their first lead. The Black Bears then started their attack, putting plenty of chances on the Titans defense, but went into the locker room down a goal. 

Just under two minutes into the third, Ryan Bottrill cut through the defense to get an initial shot, picked up a pass, went around the net a few times before putting home his ninth of the season, showing his no-quit mentality to tie the game. Moments after that, Tyler Young made the Titans defense look foolish, walking through the defenders and going top-shelf on Takacs to give the Black Bears a 3-2 lead. It was short lived, as Ryan Coughlin tied the game 20 seconds later on a rush off the face-off and seemingly catching the Black Bears flat-footed. Both teams battled back and forth, as the Black Bears took the offensive side of things in outshooting New Jersey 12-4 in the period and had plenty of chances late in the frame. Even so, regulation would not be enough for this game. 

In overtime, the Black Bears would have some chances, they would often have one attempt and New Jersey would take over possession from there. The possession game for New Jersey paid off, as Nick Ring finished the game after a great pass from Coughlin to stretch the ice and make the final 4-3 for New Jersey. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY, JANUARY 8th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. New Jersey (2): It wasn’t the start that the Black Bears wanted, as 33 seconds into the game Brendan Dumas ripped one behind Luca Di Pasquo after the Titans sustained some pressure quickly in their offensive zone. New Jersey kept the pressure on, as they had a couple more chances against Di Pasquo, but the Michigan State commit was able to keep them at bay. The Black Bears got on the board midway through the frame, as Ryan Bottrill was able to find Tyler Young coming down the slot and Young finished it off to tie the game at one a piece. Thanks to the Young goal and late power play, Maryland was able to sustain plenty of pressure in the New Jersey zone, but the period ended knotted at one. 

The momentum did carry into the second frame, as Maryland took the lead 32 seconds into the frame with Miles Gunty pouncing on a rebound from a Laker Aldridge wraparound to make it 2-1 Maryland. While the Black Bears were still buzzing, a questionable charging call sent Maryland to the box and allowed Tommy Bannister to get the equalizer at 3:59 into the middle period. New Jersey tried to capitalize, but Maryland was able to hold them without a goal thanks to timely blocks by the defense in front of Di Pasquo, the Titans couldn’t get the go-ahead marker. The Black Bears weren’t without their chances late, as Leo Schwartz beat Andrew Takacs, but not the post; keeping the game tied as the second intermission hit. 

A tense third period has emotions boil over when Luke Van Why was on the receiving end of a questionable hit by Coleman Nee. Van Why was the recipient of a couple of questionable hits and Jacob Brockman took umbridge to this hit and jumped to the chance to battle and had a spirited affair with Nee, which resulted in him getting an extra two minutes and game misconduct for instigating. Maryland was able to kill off the penalty and re-energize themselves. It wasn’t until late when Maryland struck, first from Branden Piku getting a wraparound goal to get by Takacs for the go-ahead marker. Only 1:28 later, Bottrill finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Piku, and Young to give Maryland the insurance marker. New Jersey pressured the Black Bears late with Takacs pulled, but couldn’t find the goal, making the final 4-2 and giving the Black Bears three of four points on the weekend. 

The Black Bears are off this weekend, but then travel to Jamestown for the start of their five games in eight days run starting on January 21st.

Black Bears, Warriors Swap Defensemen

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

The Maryland Black Bears announced on Thursday that they had acquired defenseman Jack Blanchett from the Wichita Falls Warriors in exchange for Philip Törnqvist and future considerations.

Blanchett, a 2003 birth year blue liner, registered 12 points (5g, 7a) in 27 games this season after putting up only six assists in 42 games last season. A product of the Oakland Jr. A Grizzlies and Honeybaked AAA programs, Blanchett is a Lake Superior State University commit– joining Vlad Polegoshko and Branden Piku as commits to the Lakers.

Törnqvist leaves Maryland after coming in at the midway point of 2020-21 and holds the Black Bears record for most goals in a career by a defenseman with 14 in his 57 games. Törnqvist also is tied for top spot for power play goals by a defenseman and tied for all skaters in power play goals with five. Törnqvist was never afraid to jump in the play, but was savvy enough to catch up should he get caught out of position.

On the surface, both players seem more or less the same in terms of size and point production, so the move could raise some eyebrows. However, it shouldn’t be too much of a shake-up for the team. At times, a change of scenery can do a player well and maybe help a team in a key area when it comes to intangibles that player could bring.

The Black Bears and Blanchett will play New Jersey to kick off the second half of the season on Friday and Saturday at the Den in Piney Orchard. Head to Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com to pick up your seats for this battle of East Division leaders.

Black Bears Split with Johnstown in Last Series of 2021

ODENTON, MD– After not having met for ten weeks, the Maryland Black Bears and Johnstown Tomahawks renewed acquaintances in the last match-up before the holiday break. Two hard fought games in each, with both sides taking a game, and shining a light on the penalty troubles that the Black Bears have had the past couple of weekends. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY DECEMBER 17th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (6) vs. Johnstown (4): Thanks to injuries, illness, and loans; the Black Bears were without six of their regular players. This game Kareem El-Bashir, Thomas Rockey, and John Werber chances to jump into the line-up for this rival weekend. Despite not seeing each other in two-and-a-half months, the rough stuff started early; with Laker Aldridge trying to drop the mitts with Dusty Geregach, but Geregach didn’t take the bait– give Johnstown the early power play. After the kill, Aldridge made up for getting called by putting home his eighth of the year after a turnover in the Johnstown end allowed Brad McNeil to find Aldrdige for the early lead. The next shift, Aldridge found his dance partner in one Cedrick Theodore with Theodore taking the decision. When play finally continued, Maryland continued their pressure on the offensive zone, but had some hiccups in their own zone, which led to Cole Bianchin’s game-tying goal thanks to the Tomahawks forecheck in deep. Maryland didn’t let that get to them, as they continued to press on Sam Evola, finally breaking through with Jesse Horacek getting a touch pass from Tyler Young and beating Evola to make it 2-1 Maryland after one. 

The second frame was all Maryland, as their offense took control early. Following a penalty expiring, Ryan Bottrill found Branden Piku coming off the bench, who beat Evola blocker side to make it a 3-1 Maryland lead. Continuing to buzz, the Black Bears kept on Evola, with the fourth goal coming off an Aden Bruich tip off of a Sean Kilcullen shot to make it 4-1 for Maryland. That would be the end of the night for Evola, making way for Liam Gross. Maryland got on Gross early, with Kevin Scott registering his third goal in as many games with a quick wrister from the top of the circle to give Maryland the 5-1 lead. At the other end, Michael Morelli was sharp with key saves to keep the Black Bears’ lead at the size it was. 

In the third, the momentum shifted, with Johnstown being the aggressors for most of the frame. They used their speed to get around the Maryland defense, while also drawing a couple penalties, one resulting in a Frank Jenkins’ blast on the power play to cut the lead to 5-2. Their aggressive play also helped them on the penalty kill, with Jake Black picking up a loose puck and putting behind Morellit to make it 5-3. The Black Bears picked up their game after the shorthanded goal, with Vlad Polegoshko putting home a rebound off a Matthew Davies shot to make it 6-3, and stopping the leak for the time being. With five seconds left in the game, Stephen Kyrkostas snuck one in the net; but Maryland would take the game by a score of 6-4. Morelli made 27 saves for his ninth win of the season. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY DECEMBER 18th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Johnstown (5): The penalty kill was the forefront for the Black Bears, as they gave up five power plays in the first frame, which would be the downfall of the first period. While the Black Bears did have their chances offensively, they couldn’t get a good flow going due to the penalties they were taking. Johnstown cashed in on the power play with 10:03 remaining as they worked the puck around the zone with precision to open up Jacob Badal for a clear shot that got past Michael Morelli for the 1-0 lead. As they tried to get some chances going with, more penalties came and Johnstown would score once again, with Frank Jenkins loading up a slap shot with the two-man advantage to give the Tomahawks a 2-0 lead. Despite the tough goals, Michael Morelli was sharp after that, making key stops after that not only on the power plays, but on a shorthanded attempt by Johnstown to keep it 2-0 after one. 

Maryland had a little more pep in their step in the second period, really taking control possession wise and created a lot more offensive chances for themselves, while also being more cautious on taking penalties. Their work would pay off with Laker Aldridge getting the first goal from a tip on a Luke Van Why shot to net a power play goal and cut Johnstown lead in half. However, it was short lived, as 26 seconds later; Zach Stoner trailed the play and got a pass from Ryan Vellucci and created Stoner’s first of the season to regain the Johnstown two-goal advantage. 

Trying to get some momentum, the Black Bears did attack Sam Evola, but he was equal to the tasks in the start of the period. More penalty trouble for Maryland, as a cross-checking call turned into Sean Ramsey scoring from the slot to make it 4-1. Even with loads of opportunities, the Black Bears couldn’t seem to find the luck they needed for the game. However, on a short-handed attempt, Aden Bruich banged home a rebound off a Ryan Bottrill rush to cut the lead in half. With Maryland pushing the envelope late, a couple of opportunities couldn’t be completed and an Egan Schmidt goal off the face-off put the nail in this game, making the final 5-2. 

The Black Bears now are at the halfway point of the season with 30 more games to go. The holiday break will span until January 7th, when they take on the New Jersey Titans at The Den at Piney Orchard. If you want to start the new year off right, go to Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com for info on how you can see the game in-person.

Black Bears Sweep Jr. Hat Tricks in Last Road Trip of 2021

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

DANBURY, CT– Coming off a split weekend against Northeast, the Black Bears traveled back to the Northeastern US, but stopped in Danbury to take on the Jr. Hat Tricks. With offense not at a premium, the Black Bears showed off their scoring prowess, while also showing off their penalty killing expertise, as they swept the Jr. Hat Tricks for the second time this year. 

FRIDAY DECEMBER 10th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) at Danbury (4): Maryland tried to set the tone early in the game, keeping the puck away from Luca Di Pasquo’s cage, while controlling their side of the neutral zone. It took them almost half a period to tally their first goal, as Philip Tornqvist picked up a loose rebound from a Danbury shot and started a break that ended with Branden Piku finding the back of the net thanks to using a defenseman as a screen to give the Black Bears the 1-0 lead. Danbury would even the score minutes later, after a broken up breakout attempt by Maryland turned into Luka Sukovic putting home the rebound from a Lucas Di Chiarra shot. After Danbury killed their first penalty of the night, Maryland took the lead back with Matthew Davies– who had two big blocked shot to open the game– took a Piku pass from the neutral zone and drove to the net, beating goalie Adam Johnson high for the 2-1 lead. Only 20 seconds later, Tyler Young picked up a loose puck in the slot and buried it past Johnson to give the Black Bears a 3-1 lead to end the first. 

Maryland’s penalty kill was stellar to start the second. Having to kill off an existing power play from the first period and then another roughing call in the second, they didn’t give up many chances down a man, while also creating some of their own, including a breakaway attempt by Young. The Black Bears would take those kills as momentum, creating plenty of chances at Johnson, but nothing getting by the netminder. Danbury would strike next, however, as during four-on-four play, Jake Howard snuck down the near side board and went backhand to beat Di Pasquo and get Danbury within one. Maryland was quick to respond, as Davies found Kevin Scott all alone at the faceoff dot and put a well-placed wrist shot passed Johnson to make it 4-2 just 35 seconds after Howard’s goal. Continuing to press, Maryland was able to create more chances, including some on the power play– but Andrew Eberling picked the pocket of a Maryland defender and put it behind Di Pasquo to make it 4-3 with the shorthanded marker. 

The penalty kill was tested early, again, as back-to-back penalties put Maryland a bit on their heels, but the PK stood strong and didn’t allow Danbury to be a threat for Di Pasquo. Right after the second straight kill, the Black Bears forecheck created a turnover thanks to Tyler Young, who found Ryan Bottrill, who weaved a pass to Miles Gunty for the 5-3 goal. Gunty had a couple of opportunities earlier in the third, with his persistence paying off for his sixth of the season. Danbury got to within one, again, as a turnover in the neutral zone turned into a three-on-one, with Gabe Dombrowski finding Mike Salandra for the cross-ice goal to make it 5-4. Despite another penalty late in the period, Di Pasquo saved his best for last, making some solid stops on the six-on-four chances to secure the win for Maryland by a score of 5-4. 

SATURDAY DECEMBER 11th 2021: BLACK BEARS (3) at Danbury (1): The Black Bears looked to pick up where they left off on Friday night, controlling the game offensively in the first period. While they did go shorthanded early, they had a couple of chances shorthanded, which outnumbered the Danbury chances on that power play. Maryland got on the board first as Jacob Brockman found the puck down the side board and somehow found enough daylight to put it over the shoulder of Adam Johnson to make it 1-0 Maryland. Continuing to press, Maryland put all they had on Johnson, but the Danbury netminder stood strong for the time being. It wasn’t until 4:15 remaining that Maryland broke Johnson again, as Kevin Scott found another bit of daylight from a tough angle for his fifth of the season and extended the Black Bears’ lead to 2-0 to end the first. Michael Morelli didn’t see many pucks in the frame, but his mental game was strong enough that he carefully handled a flurry of chances by Danbury at the end of the period. 

Danbury was all over Maryland to start the second period, causing turnovers in the Maryland zone, as well as drawing a penalty. Luckily, the Black Bears PK had been solid to that point on the weekend and were able to kill it off. The Jr. Hat Tricks continued to pressure, getting some solid chances on Morelli, with Maryland slip-sliding all over the ice. A light at the end of the tunnel seemed to shine, as the Black Bears got the next goal courtesy of captain Conor Cole snapping one over Johnson’s shoulder to make it 3-0. However, the penalty troubles would bite Maryland, as Ryan Johnson took advantage of Scott holding call for his first NAHL goal to cut the Maryland lead to 3-1. Despite power plays at the end of the period, the Black Bears could not find the back of the net, taking a two-goal lead to the intermission. 

The third period was the period of the penalty kill for Maryland. Danbury used their speed and Maryland seemed to stop moving their feet, which created five power play chances for the Jr. Hat Tricks. However, as it has been all season, the Black Bears were big on the PK thanks to timely blocked shots and Morelli tracking the puck extremely well to keep the Maryland lead and eventually win, as the Black Bears sweep the Jr. Hat Tricks in Danbury for the second time this season. 

One more weekend of action in 2021, as the Black Bears welcome the Johnstown Tomahawks to The Den at Piney Orchard on Friday and Saturday. Go to Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com to get your tickets from the Severn Bank Ticket Center and help the squad close out 2021 in style.

Black Bears Split Weekend in First Visit to Northeast

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

ATTLEBORO, MA– The Maryland Black Bears started a two weekend stretch of road games with their first visit to the New England Sports Village and the Northeast Generals. Maryland owned a 3-1-0 record coming into the weekend, but after a big Black Bears win on Saturday, Northeast squeaked one out in overtime Sunday to split the weekend. 

DECEMBER 4th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (7) at Northeast (2): Maryland started quick, as their forecheck created the first goal, as Connor Bennett and Aidan McDowell disrupted the clearing attempt by the Generals, allowing Branden Piku to get into the zone, find Dimitry Kebreau to open the scoring. The game kept going back and forth, but before halfway, David Andreychuk tied the game after a great cross-ice feed by Brent Keefer to put it past Luca Di Pasquo. The Black Bears answered back 48 seconds later, as Miles Gunty struck after streaking down the right side and putting it through Oliver Drum to regain the Maryland lead. 

The Generals got started early on their own, as David Tolan knotted the score up after being left wide-open and putting over Di Pasquo’s shoulder. The Black Bears were quick to respond again, this time it took 1:03 before Tyler Young got his first as a Black Bear, as Ryan Bottrill fed Young who put it past Drum to make it 3-2. Less than a minute after that, Branden Piku found himself wide open at the top of the circle and lasered it past Drum to make it 4-2 Black Bears. The offense maintained pressure through the period and while he wasn’t called on much after the goal, Di Pasquo was solid when Northeast was able to get into the zone. 

In the third, the game got away from the Generals, which favored the Black Bears. Miles Gunty and Elliott Lareau hooked up for Maryland’s fifth goal on a give and go that looked like Lareau tipped, but the credit went to Gunty. After that goal, Northeast coach Bryan Erikson got a gross misconduct for abuse of official, saying something from the bench and then getting ejected. Northeast got into penalty trouble in a big way just before midway, as Ryan Gordon hacked down Jacob Brockman and got a five minute major and game misconduct. Trayce Johnson, sticking up for his fallen teammate, got an unsportsmanlike misconduct, as did Northeast’s Jared Scott. With the extended power play, Maryland got to work with Brockman putting home the first power play goal from the slot to make it 6-2, just a minute after the hoopla happened. In the dying moments of the power play, Piku got his second of the night, this time off a redirect of Kevin Scott’s shot to make it 7-2 Black Bears, which ended up as the final. 

DECEMBER 5th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (1) at Northeast (2) OT: Michael Morelli got the call in net for the afternoon affair and was tested early, with the Generals wanting to erase the thought of Saturday’s third period out of their mind. Morelli was equal to the task, shutting down all 14 of Northeast’s first period shots. Maryland’s offense, however, had a little rough start, mustering only five shots to start. Fortunes would change in the second frame, with Maryland being the dominant force offensively, outshooting the Generals 19-6 in the second, mostly thanks to four power play chances in the frame. However, the result was the same as the first with a scoreless game, this time thanks to Oliver Drum’s goaltending for Northeast. 

The third period was a spirited affair with plenty of penalties to go around, including ten-minute misconducts for Joe Schubert of Northeast and Sean Kilcullen of Maryland. However, it was a bad turnover late that would get the first goal on the board, as Jared Scott turned an errant Black Bears turnover into the first goal of the game, coming in alone and scoring with under five minutes remaining. The Black Bears lucked out with a Tyler DesRochers penalty putting them back on the power play, leading to a Branden Piku redirect off a Tyler Young shot to even the game with 3:45 remaining, putting the game into overtime. 

With each team gaining a point, it was a plotting, but quick overtime. Northeast used their possession game to keep the puck away from Maryland, though a turnover deep led to a Ryan Bottrill chance. In the end, Brent Keefer snuck in from a line change and wristed one home for his third OT goal of the year and giving Northeast the extra point. 

The Black Bears hold the second spot in the East Division with 36 points, one behind the New Jersey Titans. Maryland will travel to Danbury for afternoon games on Friday and Saturday against the Jr. Hat Tricks.

Black Bears Salvage Split Against Danbury

ODENTON, MD– Coming off an off weekend, the Maryland Black Bears got some relief with the return of Aden Bruich, Vlad Polegoshko, and Philip Törnqvist to the line-up this weekend. While Friday night was a rough affair with no luck going Maryland’s way, a dominant Saturday performance allowed the Black Bears to come out of the weekend with a split. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 26th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Danbury (7): A Murphy’s Law kind of game for the Black Bears, as many bad breaks and tough bounces befell on the team on Friday night. Danbury got on the board first at 2:47 of the first, with Gabe Dombrowski opening the scoring thanks to a solid Danbury breakout and quick passing to beat Michael Morelli on a 2-on-1 to give Danbury the lead. Maryland soldiered on, trying to create some chances going the other way, but Josh Seeley would be the thorn in the Black Bears’ side in the first, playing collected hockey to keep Danbury up. Exactly six minutes after the first goal, Andrew Eberling gave Danbury a two-goal advantage, deflecting a Robert Hyde shot in, after the Black Bears had some sustained offensive time, only to have Danbury be the team to notch the goal. The Black Bears kept getting chances in the second half of the period, but nothing to show going into the intermission. 

Another early goal for Danbury in the second, as Peter Lychnikoff tallied his fourth of the year for the 3-0 Danbury lead. Maryland finally got on the board past the halfway point of the frame, as Conor Cole kept the puck in the zone on an attempt clear and found Laker Aldridge streaking down the slot, who put it home for his seventh of the year and had the teddy bears flying on Teddy Bear Toss night. Twenty-four seconds later, however, Danbury regained their three-goal lead with Dombrowski striking again on a 3-on-1 after a misplay at the point and it was 4-1. Fast and furious it goes, as Maryland struck 49 seconds later, as Connor Bennett crashed the net in a scrum in front and put it past Seeley to cut Danbury’s lead in half 4-2. 

Danbury wasted no time in the third, as 35 seconds in, Jazz Krivtsov redirected a shot in front and made it 5-2 Jr. Hat Tricks. While Maryland desperately tried to get back within two, Richard Davis’ first NAHL goal put Danbury ahead 6-2 on yet another bounce against the Black Bears. Trying to keep clawing, Kevin Scott hammered home his second of the year off a Ryan Bottrill rebound to cut the lead in half again. With Morelli pulled with just over four minutes left, Dombrowski completed his hat trick into the open net to make it 7-3. The Black Bears tried to build some momentum for Saturday’s tilt with Matthew Davies finding the back of the net with 1:23 remaining to make the final 7-4 for Danbury. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 27th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Danbury (0): After holding off Danbury from an early goal, Maryland took offensive control; much like they did on Friday night. The persistence paid off, as Elliott Lareau got the opening goal after putting home the Branden Piku wrap-around attempt and breaking the ice 7:19 into the frame. The Black Bears would have the ice titled in their direction for most of the frame, outshooting the Jr. Hat Tricks 15-4 by the time the horn sounded for the end of the first 20. 

Maryland got into some penalty troubles in the early part of the second. First, they received a delay of game call after not getting the proper players out on the ice after an icing. Then, 25 seconds after that penalty, Aden Bruich got dinged for tripping. However, the strong penalty kill and timely saves by Luca Di Pasquo was able to help the Black Bears stave off the Danbury threats. Getting a power play of their own, the Black Bears kept buzzing before Kevin Scott got his second goal of the weekend with a hammer of a shot to beat Josh Seeley and make it 2-0 Maryland. Under three minutes later, Conor Cole got on the board with a laser-like wrist shot from the circle to make it 3-0 for the Black Bears. Things started to get chippy for the first time between the teams, as both sides started to get some liberties in, ending with Brad McNeil and Gabe Dombrowski taking minors towards the end of the frame. 

The Black Bears started the third quickly, with a great forecheck by Lareau resulting in Miles Gunty getting time and space to rip one past Seeley and make it a 4-0 Maryland lead. Tempers finally boiled over with McNeil and Miles Harrington coming to blows, with McNeil scoring the decision after a vicious right to Harrington. Feeding off that energy, Piku potted one himself, crashing the net from a Dylan Wegnar shot and putting the game away at 5-0. Di Pasquo only needed 15 saves for the shutout victory, his second of the season. 

Next up, the Black Bears travel up to Attleboro, Massachusetts to take on the Northeast Generals in an odd Saturday night, Sunday afternoon series. It’ll be the first time this season that Maryland travels to Northeast, as the previous two meetings have been in Maryland with the Black Bears holding a 3-1-0 record in those games.

Black Bears Split Series in Maine

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

LEWISTON, ME– Meeting for the second straight weekend, the Maryland Black Bears this time went up to Lewiston, Maine to take on the Nordiques. A usually mild-mannered rivalry took a turn this weekend with plenty of rough stuff spreading over from Friday night into Saturday’s affair. At the end of the weekend, both teams took home 4-2 wins, with Maryland retaining their East Division lead. 

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 12th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (4) at Maine (2): In their third straight meeting, the Black Bears got off to a little of a slow start, allowing Maine to get the upper-hand offensively, as well as suffocating the Maryland breakout with their forecheck. Due to that, Maine was able to get the upper hand, as Jonny Meiers continued his hot streak against Maryland, as he ripped a shot from the top of the circle through a drive-by screen in front of Luca Di Pasquo, resulting in a deflection off a Maryland defender and in. The Black Bears were able to get things going after that, starting to find their offensive footing and pressure Gus Holt’s net. However, even with some solid chances in front, the Nordiques kept the lead. Maine increased their lead with Meiers again, this time he drove to the net and was able to fend off sticks in front and slide it past Di Pasquo to make it 2-0. Maryland got on the board late, as Elliott Lareau was patient across the slot and wristed one home to cut Maine’s lead in half. 

The second frame started a little dicey, as Di Pasquo lost the puck in his feet when trying to stop it behind his net, which made him take a tripping call in the madness that happened from it. With the penalty killed, the Black Bears continued their pressure, as they kept Maine in their own end, while really clogging up the neutral zone to stop any Maine counterattack. That effort would pay off with a textbook give-and-go between Dimitry Kebreau and Miles Gunty that resulted in Gunty’s second goal of the season and tied the game. Things really started to get wide-open with the referee putting his whistle away for a lot, as both Maryland and Maine got away with some noticeable penalties– which would come into play later on in the game. 

Maryland continued their offensive push in the third, as well as showing their defensive prowess. Kebreau used a second and third effort to get the puck out of the defensive zone and sprung Conor Cole for a two-on-one with Gunty, resulting in Gunty’s second goal of the game and giving Maryland the lead. Things really started to get chippy with Brad McNeil– who was snake-bitten offensively all game– and Reese Farrell got into a small tussle in the Maryland zone, then Matthew Connor hitting an unexpecting Black Bear in the neutral zone, which sparks plenty of ire from the Maryland bench. Luke Van Why would get the insurance goal with 45 seconds remaining, coming off the half-boards and putting it through Holt for the 4-2 lead. 

After that, things went to clownshoes level, as Cole and Meiers got 10-minute misconducts for a tussle before a face-off, then Connor Bennett and Zion Green getting into it, landing them a two for roughing and continuing altercation penalty. With only two penalties in the first 40 minutes and countless calls being uncalled; much of that boiled over and the loss of control from the officials came home to roost. Luckily, no one got hurt in all of it, but Saturday’s tilt might be much different. 

Di Pasquo had 15 saves in the win, which was his sixth straight win in net.

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 13th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (2) at Maine (4): The aggression continues into the beginning of game two, with more being called in the first frame. Even with each side having multiple power plays, neither team could cash in. Another scary hit by Matt Connor of Maine as he blindsided Matthew Davies, but Davies was able to continue. Luca Di Pasquo and Avery Sturz put on a show with the chances they had against them, Di Pasquo getting more high-quality chances against him. Because of their play, the game was scoreless after 20 minutes. 

More penalties for both sides in the second, as the referee seemed to want control over the game before it got to levels like last night. Maine struck first at even strength, as a turnover created at the Maryland blue line sprung Zach Whitehead, beat Di Pasquo to make it 1-0. One minute and six seconds later, while Davies went off for tripping, Maine used a strong breakout to beat the Maryland forecheck and ended with Patrick Schmiedlin going far side on Di Pasquo for the two goal lead for Maine. Schmiedlin then got himself an elbowing call, which allowed Maryland to go to work on their power play, which only took 12 seconds before Laker Aldridge picked up the Elliott Lareau rebound to cut the Maine lead in half. Towards the end of the frame, Maryland got to work on the power play again, this time with Ryan Bottrill finishing the play by finding open space in the slot and going high glove on Sturz to tie the game with 1:01 left in the second. 

Tempers had calmed in the third period, both teams knowing points were on the line. Maryland had plenty of chances, ringing plenty of shots off the post and the side of the net, but Maine did a good job of keeping the Black Bears to the outside and limited chances in close. Maine retook the lead midway through the period, as Jack Kurrle got his first NAHL goal, ripping one off the wing and going past Di Pasquo. Maryland tried hard to get the equalizer, but Maine was able to hold off the pressure and Kurrle got his second of the night on an empty net to seal the game 4-2. 

The Black Bears are off next weekend before hosting Danbury on November 26th and 27th at The Den. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com through the Severn Bank Ticket Center.

Time to Bring Back the Women’s Crab Pot Tournament

The Women’s Crab Pot Championship/ Photo via DVCHC

In the past, I’ve spoken on the Crab Pot Tournament and the lineage behind it. It will resume this year with Navy hosting Maryland, Stevenson, and Towson for the Maryland-centric title. After the pause in the 2020-21 season due to COVID, it’ll be a nice resumption when it’s helped in February.

Thinking on it, I had wonder if it’s time to bring about an annual women’s Crab Pot Tournament. Then, I learned that a Women’s Crab Pot has happened before, at least twice, but I haven’t seen any recollection of it since 2011.

From the looks of it, the Women’s Crab Pot was held at the start of the season and happened at IceWorld in Abingdon. Given the past of the trophy from the men’s side, it seems a bit of to have it in Baltimore County and not at the Naval Academy– but maybe that’s what’s needed, too. Set itself apart by going to IceWorld– which houses the Loyola Greyhounds and Towson Tigers programs– and having the tournament there. Add Navy and Maryland and you’ve got your tournament. Not only that, but think if Stevenson University has a women’s club team form in the next couple years– adds some intrigue to teams that could want in.

In the time where women’s hockey has been booming, why not reinvigorate it– especially with four Maryland-based teams; if they want to keep it all in-state. While I’m not sure if the lack of teams in the area that were able/willing to participate stalled the Crab Pot in the first place, with the availability of the four Maryland teams and other teams in the DVCHC landscape within a decent drive of either IceWorld or McMullen; it’s almost a no-brainer to get it going again.

Plus, it gives these teams something to strive for on top of the DVCHC title they’re all chasing after. It’s one thing to want to play for the league title, but the ability to have bragging rights and a shiny Crab Pot to get back to their home rink would be a big date circled on the calendar for the invited teams.

Looking at the landscape of hockey, it’s definitely beyond time for this tournament to be restarted for the women. The logistics could work for the teams being in the same conference again, which means it’s just a matter of working it all out for all the teams and make it happen. No better time than now, honestly.