ATTLEBORO, MA– Since the beginning of the second half, the Maryland Black Bears have split every weekend series they’ve had. The tradition continued this weekend, as the Black Bears went up to take on the Northeast Generals, While the other series allowed Maryland to get three of four points up for grabs, the Black Bears dropped Thursday’s affair in regulation, while coming back strong to secure two points on Friday afternoon.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at Northeast (3): Northeast used the early start time to their advantage, jumping out to an 8-2 shot count lead in the early going, not allowing Maryland’s offense to set-up. The flurry of shots resulted in the first goal for the Generals, as Ryan Gordon opened the scoring following up on shots from Evan Orr and Paul Minnehan to pot his 14th of the season. While Maryland did start to get more offensive chances thanks to some power players, they gave up the second goal on a four-on-four, as Ryan Gordon got his second of the game off a give-and-go with Alex Krause after a Maryland giveaway to make it 2-0 Generals. The Black Bears got into some penalty issues, including three straight penalties, but the penalty kill was solid throughout. Michael Morelli made a huge save at the end of the frame to keep the game within reach for Maryland, despite some miscues in the first 20 minutes.
The offense for the Black Bears started to wake up in the second period, finding a way through the Northeast defense and having plenty of power play time thanks to the Generals getting all four of the penalties called in the frame. However, it wasn’t a power play goal that the Black Bears would cash in on. Off a set play on the face off, Ryan Bottrill took a Brad McNeil face off win and would beat Cullen DeYoung to cut the Generals lead in half. The power play couldn’t get set up properly in the zone for Maryland, leading to plenty of one-and-out chances on the power play. Northeast would increase their lead to two goals late in the frame, as after a breakout play, Ryan Corcoran would notch his eighth of the year after a solid set-up by David Tolan for by getting around the Maryland defense and it was 3-1 Generals. The Black Bears had an extended two-man advantage late in the period, but couldn’t put it past DeYoung and the frame ended with Northeast up two goals.
Some of the two-man advantage carried over for Maryland, but the Generals PK was solid in holding them to the outside. The Black Bears’ captain, Conor Cole, then got the team to within one with a give-and-go with Vlad Polegoshko and using the backhand to beat DeYoung and make it a 3-2 game. The Black Bears had even more chances on the power play, with Northeast drawing three straight in the frame, but the right shot never came during those man-advantages. The Black Bears had the chance to tie in the dying seconds, as Conor Cole was right outside the crease, but DeYoung got over just in time to make the pad stop, his 42nd of the game, and give Northeast the victory 3-2.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Northeast (2): The Black Bears tried to build off of the sour taste from the previous game, trying to get pucks to Cullen DeYoung and create more chances. Both Dimitry Kebreau and Laker Aldridge picked up in that assignment with a couple of quick chances– though it didn’t lead to a goal. Maryland’s defense had some issues with turnovers in the early going, with Luca Di Pasquo coming up big on a couple turnovers that were created. The end of the frame brought some pleasantries, as both teams converged in the corner, foreshadowing the feistiness to happen in the second period.
After killing a penalty from the end of the frame, Laker Aldridge does what he does best– score the opening goal for Maryland, this time with a wrap-around to tuck it through DeYoung to open the scoring. After some chippiness, the gloves dropped with Conor Cole going up against Jack DeMoura in a wrestling bout, while minutes later Branden Piku would have a tussle with Evan Orr. Between the fights, Maryland goes up 2-0 on a power play goal, as Aldridge found Jacob Brockman on the right circle to score his 11th of the season with two seconds left in the power play. Penalties plagued the Black Bears again, as the Generals were able to convert on a two-man advantage as Alex Krause hammered home a one-timer to cut the Maryland lead in half. Kebreau would get the two-goal lead back for the Black Bears after Bottrill powered through the Northeast defense, got the puck to Kebreau, who put it in for the 3-1 marker. With Maryland pressing throughout, they waited until there were six seconds left to make it a three-goal lead, as Ryan Bottrill took an alley-oop pass from Matthew Davies and put it over DeYoung to make it 4-1.
The goal for Bottrill, coupled with his assists earlier, gave him the single-season points record for the Maryland Black Bears with 48. He surpassed former captain Connor Pooley’s mark of 47 from the inaugural season in 2018-19.
Knowing they needed some offense, the Generals pressed against the Black Bears hard, not allowing them much time in their offensive zone. They had some looks against Di Pasquo, but it wouldn’t be until there was 3:17 left in the period that Northeast would break through. Ryan Gordon converted on a power play with a laser shot past Di Pasquo to cut the Maryland lead in half, again, but it wouldn’t be enough. Maryland is able to get a split on the weekend and hold second place in the East Division.
The Black Bears are back home next weekend with another match-up against the New Jersey Titans. Tickets are on sale through Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com or at the Severn Bank Ticket Center before the game.