ODENTON, MD– After a weekend in Danbury that saw the Black Bears take home four points, Maryland looked to do it on home ice; as they returned to Piney Orchard for the first time since September 10th. While they faced a more aggressive Jr. Hat Tricks team, the Black Bears were too much for Danbury and took four more points from them in a back-to-back sweep.
OCTOBER 17th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Danbury (1): Right at the opening puck drop, the Jr. Hat Tricks were showing a new-found aggressiveness and was starting to carry the offensive play for the first bit of the game. However, Jack Wieneke was sharp between the pipes, staving off a couple of good chances from Danbury to keep the game scoreless. Maryland was able to get their feet underneath them and push the pace of play. That resulted in Maryland’s first goal with Trayce Johnson springing Branden Piku on a breakaway with Piku converting for his first goal of the season and first goal back with the Black Bears. Maryland would keep the pressure on, but couldn’t get another goal; taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
The Black Bears didn’t need too much time in the second to get a two-goal lead, with Hunter Ramos notching his seventh of the season 1:31 into the second, coming down the wing and wiring one past Patrik Berzins to make it 2-0. Less than 90 seconds later, however, Danbury gets on the board on a delayed called, as Logan Nickerson getting his squad on the board; benefitting from Bohdan Panasenko’s wonderful stickhandling to find Nickerson and cutting the Black Bears lead in half. Maryland got into penalty trouble through most of the frame, but their penalty kill was stellar, including a couple of chances shorthanded; but did not cash in while keeping the Jr. Hat Tricks from tying up the game.
It was a neutral zone tilt for most of the third period, with a total of six shots on goals combined; Maryland having the 5-1 lead in that stat. Two of those five shots resulted in goals, as the power play cashed in with Luke Van Why wiring home his third of the season with the passing game for the power play getting Danbury disjointed and allowed Van Why a lane to rip one behind Berzins to make it 3-1. To end it out, Brayden Stannard’s hard work on the penalty kill saw create a turnover with eyes on the empty net, but he got tripped up on his way towards it. Luckily, Brad McNeil was there to kill some time off the clock as he skated in to put home the team’s fourth goal to make the final 4-1.
OCTOBER 15th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Danbury (1): Maryland continued their offensive zone domination, taking it to the Jr. Hat Tricks in the early going and tilting the ice their direction. Being able to maneuver the puck, as if they were on a power play, helped spread the zone and give Maryland the chances they got in the first. Adam Johnson had to be big for Danbury to keep the game scoreless. Danbury did crack the scoresheet first with Logan Nickerson carrying the puck around the net, throwing it out in front, and having it bounce off of William Hakansson and in the net for the Jr. Hat Tricks first lead in the last two series. However, 25 seconds later, Christian Catalano evened up the score with a seemingly harmless shot on Johnson that went behind the netminder and put the Black Bears even with Danbury.
The Black Bears continued to pace the game offensively in the second period, but couldn’t find a way past Johnson, while Hakansson was solid in the chances he saw in the middle frame, but nothing past the Swedish netminder for Maryland.
An early power play for the Black Bears resulted in the go-ahead goal, with Catalano going end-to-end, showing off his speed, and putting it over the shoulder of Johnson in another highlight reel play for the RIT committed forward. In the middle of the frame, Maryland had to hold off pressure from Danbury, caused mostly by some defensive lapses by the Black Bears, but Hakansson stayed cool under the pressure to keep the Black Bears up by one. To seal it, Branden Piku capped off his homecoming with an empty-net goal to give Maryland the 3-1 victory and the sweep on the weekend.
The Black Bears now travel up to Johnstown to take on the Tomahawks Friday and Saturday nights before returning home the next weekend for a three-game set against the Tomahawks.