The 2022 NAHL Draft took place on Wednesday and the Maryland Black Bears decided that they could pick up some familiar faces along the way this year. After a flurry of tender signings in the past few weeks, the Black Bears were left with eight picks this year to fill out their protected list.
Originally slated for the 16th spot, Maryland traded with the Maine Nordiques to get to the 7th spot where they picked their first familiar face– Brayden Stannard. After two seasons at the USHL level, Stannard was picked by the Black Bears in hopes to get him back into the fold in Maryland. In 2019-20, Stannad picked up All-East Rookie honors and NAHL 2nd Team Rookie honors with 13 goals and 22 assists. The Nebraska-Omaha commit didn’t seem to get the breaks during his time in the USHL, only managing 13 assists over 63 games.
Waiting until the third round, Maryland selected Mitch Kohner from Estevan of the SJHL. Kohner brings a brunt of major junior experience, playing in the WHL with the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. In 17 games with Estevan, Kohner had 11 assists and 14 points. Staying in the Canadian Junior “A” ranks, Gunnar VanDamme was the next pick for Maryland at 89th overall. The defenseman from Pittsford, NY recorded six goals and 24 points from the blue line in the OJHL
Another familiar face was picked at number 132 with Kareem El-Bashir getting the call from the team. El-Bashir played in two games for the Black Bears this season, while also putting on a clinic with Team Maryland’s 18U AAA team with 24 goals and 57 points in 42 games. El-Bashir also netted 10 goals in 10 games with John Champe/Light Ridge High in Northern Virginia, while also getting an NCDC call with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers.
Going to the goaltending aspect, as Jack Wieneke was picked 161st overall. Wieneke played eight games for Fox Motors HC. Wieneke also had some NAHL game time with one game each for the Jamestown Rebels and Aberdeen Wings. In 2020-21, Wieneke had a 19-2-0 record for Maple Grove High School, helping them to a semifinal appearance in the Class AA Minnesota State Championships.
Offense was next for Maryland, as Christian Catalano was selected from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the OJHL. In his first season in the OJHL, Catalano netted 34 goals and 73 points in just 52 games, while netting 14 points in 13 games to help the Jr. Canadiens win the OJHL title.
Digging to the USHL well again, Maryland took Connor Welsh at pick 219, who played for Sioux City and Omaha this past year. Welsh had a stellar youth resume before turning to the junior ranks, but a change of pace in Maryland could help get him back on track going forward.
Wrapping things up at pick 248, Logan Kroyman gets the last pick from the Black Bears from the Rochester Grizzlies. While he had some time with Kenai River this season, Kroyman helped Rochester to the NA3HL title with five goals in nine games from the point. With Maryland being notable for their defense, Kroyman will help with depth and some offensive contributions as well.
The Black Bears have a history of players who play after they get drafted, regardless of where they’ve been selected. Stannard knows that well, as he was a seventh round pick in 2019 and was a top contributor for the team that season. Last year alone, Maryland had five of their seven picks in the 2021 Draft play considerable time for the squad this past year.