As is tradition closing out the season, I’m going to put out my three wishes for next season. There’s not much rhyme or reason to it, just three things I’d like to see going forward with this team in trying to make them a permanent contender for the playoffs. Again, this is based on speculation and no insider information to go off on.
1. Finding a New Netminder: With Michael Morelli graduating junior hockey and Luca Di Pasquo leaving for Michigan State with one year of eligibility left, the Black Bears now looked to see who the next star in net will be. The Black Bears finished 9th in the NAHL in goals-against (176, 2.93 GA per game) and have gotten better each year for goals-against per game in each of their four seasons. Defense does play a strong part, but so does solid goaltending. It will be interesting to see who is brought in to follow the last two seasons of superb goaltending for the Black Bears and how far that can lead them moving forward.
2. Toning Down the Penalties: The Black Bears were second in the NAHL in times shorthanded with 239 (3.98 times shorthanded per game), six back of the Austin Bruins. The next closest East Division team was in eighth with the New Jersey Titans at 226. Maryland also gave up the seventh most power play goals in the league with 47. While the penalty kill was good to start, you could see they were getting tired by the stretch run, as they gave up 14 power play goals in the last 15 games of the season. Granted, some calls are more legit than others, but if you give a reason to make the officials call it– they will. Some discipline next season will go a long way in having more 5-on-5 time and not burning out your PK.
3. Keep Churning Out Commits: Over the course of the season, the Black Bears had 10 NCAA commitments announced and probably a couple more from players as the season ends. Those numbers are huge when it comes to getting prospects into the loop and wanting players to be a part of this team– because they’ll have a better chance to get seen by top college programs. While the increase in commits shouldn’t be a surprise given that head coach and GM Clint Mylymok has been able to get a lot of his Black Bears seen, but the fact it bumped from two in the first season to 10 (maybe more) in the fourth season speaks to the development from the coaches and the work the players have done to get the grades in the classroom and possess the skill on the ice to get notices going further.
For now, that’s a wrap on the 2021-22 Maryland Black Bears season. Now, the team gears up for the 2022 NAHL Draft happening some time in late June, early July. Thank you all for listening and reading. Stay tuned for news and notes as they happen in the off-season.