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.
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.
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.