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 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.

Terwilliger Latest Local Talent to Suit-Up for Black Bears

Ervie Terwilliger/ Photo: Jon Pitonzo, FOHS Media Faction

With four generations of Terwilligers watching, Ervie Terwilliger took the ice for the Maryland Black Bears Saturday night to continue his own chapter of the hockey journey of the Terwilliger family. Donning the #11, Terwilliger was held off the scoresheet, but became the first player from Mount St. Joseph High School to play at the Tier II level of hockey while still enrolled at the school.

The Terwilliger family has plenty of lineage in Maryland hockey, especially at MSJ. Ervie’s grandfather, Erv, coached MSJ from 1991 until 2012 bringing numerous state championships to the school and leaving a mark on the area. His untimely passing in 2017 led to the creation of the Ervin J. Terwilliger Award for Mid-Atlantic Prep League Coach of the Year. Ervie’s father, Erv, played for the Howard Huskies, MSJ, and then at the University of Delaware before starting his own company in the Maryland area.

Terwilliger’s story of getting a chance to play a higher level of hockey without going too far away from home is becoming more and more frequent with the Maryland Black Bears in town. Players on the roster already that played in the local high school ranks include Sean Kilcullen (Gonzaga), Kevin Scott (Briar Wood), Miles Gunty (St. Albans), Jesse Horacek (St. John’s), and Dimitry Kebreau (St. John’s) come from the DMV high school landscape to the Black Bears. Previous to them were Collin Berke (Spalding) and Andrew Takacs (DeMatha) who were able to play back in the area they started.

Ervie Terwilliger makes a pass, as Sean Kilcullen (2) hops off the bench/ Photo: Jon Pitonzo, FOHS Media Faction

It may not have been the desired idea for the Black Bears when they started, but the availability for elite local players to have a higher level to practice or play in without having to go that far away from their home has been crucial for the development of hockey in this area. While the youth hockey and high school hockey scene in Maryland has been growing, having the Black Bears as a measuring stick for these area players to look at and know what they need to go to get to that next level is a huge boost. There are players that leave the area go find their way, sure, but it’s not like it’s the only option to go to in order to advance in the sport from the Mid-Atlantic.

For now, the Black Bears have a solid mix of players who are from the area and those outside of it. They can bring in the local players for them to get a feel for the speed and physicality of the game, while also maybe getting an early look at what these players could bring to the table.

Pair of Shootouts Net Maryland Three Points in Weekend Split

ODENTON, MD– Coming off a sweep last weekend, the Maryland Black Bears faced a Maine Nordiques team hungry for a win. Though they did have two wins last weekend, the injuries have been mounting for Maryland, as they were down four players to injury– Aden Bruich, Aidan McDowell, Philip Törnqvist, and Vlad Polegoshko. Even with key parts down, the Black Bears were able to scrap out three points on the weekend, as both games went to the shootout.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Maine (4) SO: With five regulars out to injury, the Black Bears looked to affiliate players Leo Schwartz and Adam Schankula to slide into the line-up for the evening. Maryland didn’t get off to the start they wanted with Maine scoring twice in the first three minutes. The first goal came on the power play, as Maine’s zone entry pushed Maryland back enough to give Zion Green the space needed to one-time a Jonny Meiers pass to the back of the net for the opening goal. Only 12 seconds later, Maine strikes with Brendan Gibbons picking up the loose puck in front and scooting it behind Michael Morelli for a 2-0 Nordiques lead.

Maryland responded strong and got their offense going, mostly in part to drawing three penalties out of Maine. One of those power plays paid off, as with four seconds remaining on a Tristan Fasig tripping call, Laker Aldridge was able to find the puck at the side of the net and put it in to cut the Maine lead in half. The power play was solid, moving the puck around well, opening up paths to get shots and passes through.

The second stanza had plenty of back and forth play, with Maine getting plenty of chances, but Morelli coming up strong in between the pipes. The Black Bears tied the game just past the halfway point, as Jacob Brockman wires a shot form the top of the circle through a crowd to beat Avery Sturtz and make it a tied hockey game.

Both sides looked to end this game in regulation, but Morelli and Sturtz traded big saves to keep the game close. The Black Bears would strike again on the power play, as Kevin Scott let one go from the top of the circles and in the back of the net to give the Black Bears the 3-2 lead. Maryland tried to get the insurance goal, hitting a few posts and pushing some shot wides, but not finding the back of the net. Maine capitalized on that late in the frame, as with 1:13 left in the third, Meiers gets a tip in front to tie the game and push it into overtime.

Maine used the momentum of that goal into overtime, controlling the play for most of it. It also helped Maine when a late Black Bears cross-checking call put them on the PK; but Maryland was able to kill it off thanks to solid blocking and great goaltending to move this game into a shootout. It took six rounds to decide a winner, but Fasig was able to score in the top of the sixth and Maryland unable to answer to provide Maine with the extra point for the win.

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Maine (2) SO: The Black Bears added a local product as an affiliate player with Glenwood’s Ervie Terwilliger getting the nod in the line-up. Maryland had a better start than Friday night, though Main did have the advantage of shots in the frame. Luca Di Pasquo was sharp early for Maryland, not allowing many rebounds on shots and letting the game come to him. Maryland did have some penalty troubles, but the penalty kill was solid at the start and were able to fend off the attack.

Solid back-and-forth in the second saw a both squad get their hack in early, with the Black Bears striking first. Just before the midway point, Ryan Bottrill weaved through the Maine defense before cutting back into the goal-mouth area and putting it behind Gus Holt for the opening tally of the game. Di Pasquo made some big saves after that goal to keep the Black Bears up into the second intermission.

The Black Bears started to press in the third period, trying to get an insurance goal for the game, but Holt was strong in net and the Maine defense got in front of many shot and pass attempts to keep it a one-goal game. Maine knotted the game up with a solid forechek, forcing Maryland to turn the puck over, leading to Zion Green putting the puck behind Di Pasquo. Penalty issues reared their ugly head for Maryland, as a holding minor led to Matthew Connor scoring from the point on the power play to put the Nords up 2-1. However, 36 seconds later, Connor Bennett got the Black Bears back to even with a shot from the slot going over the glove of Holt and tying the game again.

In overtime, Maine paced the play for the better part of the extra frame, pressure the Maryland net, but not being able to beat Di Pasquo. After surviving the overtime, Maryland was able to pick up the extra point, with Laker Aldridge having the lone goal in the shootout, making the final 3-2 Maryland.

With the points this weekend, Maryland extends their points streak to five games with a 8-1-0-1 record on their last ten games. These two teams will meet next weekend in Lewiston, Maine.

Maryland Black Bears Announce Partnership with The Ryan Brooks Harrison Foundation and Baltimore Jr. Banners

On Tuesday, the Maryland Black Bears announced a partnership that will provide spark and new interest in the game of hockey. The Black Bears will partner with The Ryan Brooks Harrison Foundation and the Baltimore Jr. Banners to provide tickets to games throughout the rest of the regular season, starting this Saturday, November 6th.

“This partnership represents so much of what the Maryland Black Bears stand for,” said
Maryland Black Bears’ President Robyn Remick. “Showcasing the hockey experience to youth
teams and building skills both on and off the ice are paramount. We are grateful to RBHF for
the opportunity to work with them in Ryan’s memory and we look forward to building a
meaningful hockey relationship with The Jr. Banners,” she added.

The foundation was named after Ryan Harrison, a Glen Burnie native, who passed away on July 29th, 2019. Harrison was an avid sports fan and the foundation aims to support local youth athletics, as well as providing the chance for children to attend live sporting events in their area. These events are often the first time a child has been to experience a game in-person.

“The Ryan Brooks Harrison Foundation is honored to work with the Black Bears to bring
members of the Baltimore Banners to their first hockey game,” said Jamie Harrison, RBHF
Chairman. “We are touched by the mission and resiliency of the Banners’ organization, and
we know that Ryan would be moved by their story.” He added, “This will be our first-ever
sponsorship of a hockey game, and so November 6th will definitely be “Banner” day for us!!”

To help with this, the Baltimore Jr. Banners will distribute ten tickets to the three games to their players. The Jr. Banners and the Baltimore Banners operate out of East Baltimore’s Mimi Di Pietro Skating Center in Patterson Park. Managed by the Tender Bridge group, the Jr. Banners and Banners teams have their cost of travel, ice time, and equipment covered by donations. The Banners were featured in a mini-documentary “Not Just a Game: The Story of ‘Savage’” that followed Tyrone “Savage” Carey as he took the ice for his first season and how it helped him on and off the ice.

“The Banners are grateful for the generous support of the Ryan Brooks Harrison Foundation
and the Maryland Black Bears. Kids always remember the first time they step on the ice or see
their first hockey game and we know that Ryan Brooks Harrison’s legacy will create a lifetime
love of hockey for our special group of kids,” said Noel Acton, Executive Director of the
Tender Bridge. “Continuing to grow hockey is critical to the future of the game and we are
eager to watch this partnership foster that mission in Baltimore City.”

As mentioned, the first of three games is November 6th against Maine, then January 8th against New Jersey, and February 5th versus Jamestown.

Black Bears Maintain First Place With Sweep Over Danbury

Photo via @JrHatTricksNAHL

DANBURY, CT– Coming off a split weekend against Northeast, the Maryland Black Bears traveled to Danbury for a weekend afternoon set against the Jr. Hat Tricks. Game One had frantic pace in the last frame, Game Two had frantic pace in the first frame, but Maryland stood tall and were able to get the sweep.

Overshadowing the weekend, however, was the injury Aden Bruich in Game Two. With 15:05 remaining, Bruich was on the backcheck when he tried to initiate a hit in the corner of the Black Bears defensive zone. The Danbury puck carrier stopped after he dumped the puck into the other corner to avoid the hit and Bruich went crown-first into the glass. Bruich was on the ice for several minutes as EMS tended to him. He did sit up before being stretchered off, with both teams going to his side as he left and then a moment of reflection by both sides at center ice before play resumed. Bruich was responsive and moving his extremities as he was going off the ice.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (4) at Danbury (3) OT: In the first meeting of the season between the two, the first 40 minutes didn’t yield much in the way of scoring. The first period, Maryland were more aggressive offensively with a 16-5 shot advantage, but Michael Morelli was tested in those five shots, showing that the time between shots wasn’t spend getting cold in net.

The tempo started to even out in the first five minutes of the frame, as Maryland and Danbury exchanged end-to-end rushes, putting Morelli and Danbury’s Adam Johnson on their toes. Midway through the second, Maryland got themselves into penalty trouble with three straight penalties. However, their calling card for the year has been solid penalty killing, which they did on all three to keep the game scoreless.

Business picked up early in the third period, as on a delayed call, Philip Törnqvist crashed the net, following up on an Aden Bruich drive to the net and put home the rebound to make it 1-0 Maryland. Danbury answered 31 seconds later with Jake Howard throwing a shot off the side wall through a maze of people to tie the game at one. The Jr. Hat Tricks did get into penalty trouble, giving Maryland a two-man advantage, which they capitalized on. Ryan Bottrill pounced on a Laker Aldridge rebound into the yawning cage to make it 2-1 Black Bears. Maryland kept pressing for the rest of the power play, but Danbury scored right after it expired with Mike Salandra putting Danbury even with Maryland.

The Black Bears tried to shift the momentum, creating plenty of top notch opportunities at Johnson, but he did not falter during that barrage. However, Danbury persisted and with Maryland unable to get it out of their zone, Ben Biester got the puck down low and patiently cut across the top of the goal mouth and put it home to give Danbury the lead with just over half a period to play. The game could have turned bad for Maryland moments later when a turnover just outside of their zone led to a Danbury chance, but Morelli kept his team in it. The Black Bears tied the game after Dimitry Kebreau took advantage of a Danbury defender blowing a tire following a Luke Van Why alley-oop pass, leading to Kebreau putting it past Johnson to tie the game. Despite chances late, both teams would earn a point.

In the overtime session, Maryland sustained possession and pressure for 40 seconds on a delayed call to Danbury before Conor Cole set-up Törnqvist for his patented one-timer to take the game 4-3 and push Maryland to 11 wins on the season. Morelli made 21 saves in his seventh win of the season.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) at Danbury (0): Maryland carried over their scoring from Friday afternoon right into the first period of Saturday afternoon’s contest. After a headbutt by Danbury’s Boris Skalos to Philip Törnqvist, Maryland went on an extended power play. Thanks to great movement around the perimeter, the puck found Conor Cole’s stick from Sean Kilcullen and Cole made no mistake to put Maryland up early. Maryland carried the play in the offensive side, where three and a half minutes later, Elliott Lareau tapped in his third of the year after Ryan Bottrill came down the left side, pulled up, and found Lareau on the other side to make it 2-0. Jesse Horacek found the net three minutes after that, picking up the rebound from a shot by Lareau to make it 3-0. The eventful first ended when Bottrill got his own goal, splitting the Danbury defense and putting behind Adam Johnson to cap the period at 4-0 for Maryland and ending Johnson’s day.

Mustering only one shot in the first, Danbury tilted the ice in their favor in the second, creating plenty of offense, as well as drawing penalties to keep the Black Bears penalty kill working. However, Luca Di Pasquo played solid in the period, fending off screens and tracking the puck well to keep Maryland in the lead. The Black Bears were only able to get five shots on Josh Seeley in the frame.

After the Bruich incident, both teams seemed to be going through the motions at the start. Danbury get on the attack quicker, with Di Pasquo facing some tough shots; but he was in control, playing his angles and smothering rebounds to keep Maryland’s lead. Late in the third, Bottrill picked up the puck in the corner, wrapped around the net and found Branden Piku in front for the tap in to make it 5-0; the eventual final score. Di Pasquo stopped all 26 shots against him for his first NAHL shutout.

The sweep is the third in the last four weekends for Maryland and has them maintaining the East Division lead. Maryland returns home next weekend to host the Maine Nordiques. Tickets on sale now at the Severn Bank Ticket Office at

Tough, But Proper Decision Made with ACHA Mustangs

Photo by Mike Urgo/ Intellectual Nebula

When the Stevenson ACHA Mustangs hit the ice Friday night, they’ll have a new look– a full roster. The team announced Tuesday that they were going to suspend operations on their D3 program, a program they started this season, as they’ll focus their attention to their D2 schedule for the rest of the year.

Despite it being a tough call to make, it was the right one for the safety and enjoyment of the game for the players on the squad. The announcement comes as both the D2 team is 0-4-0 while only scoring two goals in those four games, while the D3 team was 0-3-1 with a better goal differential at -11, but seemingly having a minimal roster for their games. Stevenson’s ACHA squad had been announcing players over the summer and it looked like they’d have a solid foundation moving forward. However, it seemed that times changed from the announcements to when the games actually started.

Stevenson’s D2 venture did have plenty of success pre-pandemic, too. They had build off the culture of their NCAA counterparts, they had solid chemistry, and an active coaching staff and leadership group to lead the way. With interest in the program, it was only a matter of time before the expansion of the program happened. Whether or not the right time for expansion was now will be for armchair GMs to figure out– but if the interest was there, there’s no reason not to make a D3 team with some of the group from the D2 team to help lead the way. As with life, though, circumstances change and at the moment– things didn’t pan out.

Program Director and Head Coach Mike Urgo’s vision is there. He did what he could with recruiting, has done wonders in the past during the pandemic to have his players on the ice and in some kind of game action with plenty of intrasquad tournaments for the Turtle Cup, and he’s made his team very visible on social media to get the word out there. There’s no doubt in my mind that next season, this school will have two strong programs on the men’s side of the puck for the ACHA season– and perhaps a women’s ACHA offering, too?? Just throwing that out there.

When all is said and done, the fact that the problem was seen and the right decision was made in order to not overwork the players in each division is an admirable one. The focus now can be getting the season back on track, be able to have the luxury of more than two lines on the bench, and look at boosting the all around confidence at this level to make it more desirable for prospective players to want to join this team.

Black Bears Split Weekend, Maintain First Place

ODENTON, MD– Riding a four-game winning streak, the Maryland Black Bears met the Northeast Generals at home for the second time in three weeks. Being atop the East Division, Maryland knew they were going to be tested by those chasing, which happened on Friday night in a loss; but they regained their swagger with a win on Saturday.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY OCTOBER 22nd, 2021: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Northeast (6): It was not the best start for the Black Bears. Northeast clamped down on them, much like they did on the second game of the series from two weekends ago. The Generals struck early with Paul Minnehan streaking on the weak side and had an easy tap-in off a Jared Scott pass to open the scoring for Northeast. With some untimely turnovers and overeagerness at the blue line caused some self-inflicted issues for Maryland, who weren’t able to get any sense of flow going offensively. Michael Morelli was solid after the goal, however, making some critical saves to keep the score at 1-0 until another turnover led to Scott breaking down the wing, losing his stick– but able to kick it over to Minnehan to make it 2-0 at the end of the period.

There were issues off the ice, as the scoreboard at Piney Orchard was malfunctioning by not running as it should. Constant problems caused the staff in the scorer’s box to go above and beyond with cell phone timing and continuous announcements of the time to keep the in-house audience and teams aware of the timing.

Maryland got started early in the second, create a couple of chances in the offensive zone and on the power play, but couldn’t yield a goal. That changed, as Dimitry Kebreau got a pass from Aidan McDowell, cut across the crease, and put it home for his first NAHL goal and to cut the Northeast lead in half. Northeast extended their lead just after the halfway point, as Kyle Schroeder found a loose puck in the slot and buried to to make it 3-1 Northeast on the power play.

Knowing they had to get the next goal, Maryland started to push, though it didn’t start that well. A couple of turnovers had Morelli tested, but he was able to hold Northeast at bay. The Black Bears kept getting their chances, with Elliott Lareau and Miles Gunty with some solid chances. It wasn’t until the line of Aden Bruich, Brad McNeil, and Laker Aldridge battled away in the offensive zone, keeping possession until finding Bruich in front for the second goal for Maryland. After a Bruich penalty, he got out of the box, created a turnover and a 2-on-0 with Lareau, but Cullen DeYoung was able to get a blocker on the give-and-go to keep it a 3-2 game.

After that rush, Northeast put up their fourth goal with a David Andreychuk shot through traffic to make it 4-2. Morelli was pulled for the extra attack and Northeast kept Maryland to the outside. Douglas Friberg was able to nail an empty netter to make it 5-2 Generals. The ensuing faceoff had Ryan Bottrill win the face-off, feed it to Kebreau, who buried his second of the game to cut the lead to 5-3. With the extra attacker on again, Brent Keefer put home another empty-netter to make the final 6-3 Northeast; snapping the Black Bears four-game win streak.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY OCTOBER 23rd, 2021: BLACK BEARS (7) vs. Northeast (3): With a slow start dooming the Black Bears Friday, they got on the offensive quick to be able to dictate the play. Just 58 seconds into the game, Laker Aldridge got Maryland on the board after finding a rebound from Kevin Scott’s shot and put it past Cullen DeYoung to make it 1-0. While things started to get chippier, Northeast and Maryland traded chances, with Luca Di Pasquo making some key saves for Maryland. With 4:02 remaining, Miles Gunty took the puck over the blue line and let it rip past DeYoung for his first NAHL goal to give Maryland the 2-0 lead. Scary moment for Maryland as Aden Bruich was hit from behind in front of the Northeast bench and had to leave the game. It’s the fourth time this season Bruich has been hit from behind. There was no penalty on the play.

The second period started with more chippy activity with Maryland being the beneficiary of a missed call on a cross-check to a Northeast player. Philip Törnqvist’s heavy shot hit Ryan Bottrill in the back with Bottrill on the screen and then caught a linesman in the head on a dump-in. Northeast got on the board as Matt Boczar took the puck off a face-off to beat Di Pasquo and cut the lead to one. Nearing the midway mark, Maryland went back up by two goals when Branden Piku threw a dart to Connor Bennett for a breakaway and Bennett’s first NAHL goal. However, Maryland would give Northeast a gift with a turnover in their own zone on a power play, leading to a Brent Keefer shorthanded goal. With the Generals on the attack, Di Pasquo made a big glove save to allow Maryland to keep the lead heading into the second intermission.

While Maryland had a power play to start the period, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Piku evened it up. As Piku came out of the box, he joined the rush where Aldridge found him on the wing and Piku put it behind DeYoung to make it 4-2 Black Bears. Maryland wasn’t so luck in their next penalty, as Northeast’s Paul Minnehan found the back of the net on the back side to make it another one-goal game. Maryland kept pressing to regain the multi-goal lead, which happened after Piku found Conor Cole, who delayed enough to find the open spot amd make it 5-3. Both teams battled, with their shot counts being even at 18 in the period– but Maryland would net two empty-netters from Aldridge and Dimitry Kebreau to make the final 7-3 for Maryland and give them the split on the weekend.

The Black Bears head on the road for next weeeknd, with their first trip to Danbury on the season to face the Jr. Hat Tricks.