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.