Small Sample Size, Big Opportunities for Gains

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

There has been only been six games in this young NAHL season. The Maryland Black Bears are 3-2-1 and really haven’t played badly. Conversely, there’s a lot of room for improvement, especially coming off of a weekend where they were swept, but had some problems that have become trends in these six games.

Four of the six games, the Black Bears have held a lead, but haven’t been able to hold that lead. They’ve got 1-2-1 in those games and while a couple have been one-goal leads, the other team games were multi-goal leads that have been squandered. It could be a case of getting too comfortable with the lead and then not being able to get back into the game when the opponents are coming back. If so, it needs to be nipped in the bid very quickly before it becomes a habit.

While the penalty kill has been solid this season, only allowing six goals on 37 attempts (four of them being this past Saturday); the power play still has had some issues to it. All three of their power play goals came in the first weekend of play against Johnstown. They’ve gone 0-for-17 since, many this weekend happening because penalties were called to shorten the power play, but it still counts all the same. On the upside of the special teams, logging six shorthanded goals in six games isn’t too shabby– especially when they had seven all of last season.

Turnovers in the defensive zone continue to plague the team, but some of that could be chalked up to the short glass at the Ice World complex as opposed to Piney Orchard. That notwithstanding, passes up the middle and pucks not getting out of the zone have lead to counterattacks by the opposition; leading the defense to scramble to get back into position and shut down key scoring chances that didn’t need to be created in the first place.

One big bright spot is the team working as a cohesive unit, even with players shuttling in and out of the line-up. Newcomers like Hunter McCoy, Daniel Colabufo, and Conor Cole have come into the line-up and fit in tremendously. The old guard of Luke Mountain, Reid Leibold, Thomas Jarman, and Jude Kurtas have been able to teach these guys the Black Bear Way, which has seemingly helped the transition of those new players.

More over, they haven’t been out any of the games they’ve played in. All the games have been tight affairs, four of them by one goal. This is also the best start in the first six games in the team’s history. It’s a grind of a season and plenty to look forward to. Any kind of adjustments that need to be made will hopefully be handled early on so that it doesn’t continue to be a trend.

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