The two newest teams in the NAHL East Division will face off for the divisional title starting this week. With Maryland taking out Johnstown and Maine defeating New Jersey, the Black Bears and Nordiques are heading for a collision course for the right to play in Blaine, Minnesota for the Robertson Cup.
These teams played only six times this season, all within a six week span. Maryland came out of it with a 2-2-2 record, but have a 6-3-2 record overall with the Nordiques. These teams haven’t played since February, so some things may have changed– including the location of Maryland’s home. The last series between these two teams in February shuttered down the IceWorld era for the Black Bears this season.
For the Black Bears, both Hunter McCoy and Luke Mountain have six points on the season, including Mountain’s hat trick on January 22nd. We will have to see if Aidan McDowell gets cleared to play, because he had a goal and three assists against Maine, while Cam Gaudette has a goal and two assists this year. One of the interesting notes is two of the more dynamic players for the Black Bears in the last season– Josh Nixon and Tanner Rowe– each only posted a goal a piece against Maine in their sets. In net, Michael Morelli and Hannes Kollen split starts, both accounting for a win.
On the Maine side, the Black Bears gave their top scorers fits this season. Stefen Owens only had a goal and an assist in six games, while Isaiah Fox had two goals and an assist in the series. However, that also means the Black Bears will need to be wary of the other Nordiques. In the 14 goals that Maine scored against Maryland, only Fox and Luke Antonacci scored multiple times throughout the series.
It’ll be another tightly contested match-up for the Black Bears, but if they want to get to Blaine and into the hunt for the Robbie– they’ll need to channel what made them successful against Maine this year, while also taking what they learned from the Johnstown series and using that to their advantage to adjust and adapt.