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.
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.
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.