ODENTON, MD– Coming off a hard fought weekend in Johnstown, the Black Bears played host to the Tomahawks this past weekend. Thanks to quick starts and holding the offensive momentum for most of the series, the Black Bears took all three games on the weekend against Johnstown to extend their lead in the East Division.
October 28th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (6) vs. Johnstown (2): The Black Bears couldn’t ask for a better start offensively in the first, as they were able to withstand early pressure from Johnstown and turn it their way. Kareem El-Bashir opened the scoring after gloving down a pass from Trey Scott and picking the top-right corner on Matt O’Donnell and El-Bashir picks up his third of the season. Ninety seconds later, Samuel Stitz gets in on the action, getting a Gabriel Westling pass and putting it short-side on O’Donnell to make it 2-0 for Maryland. With the continued pressure for the Black Bears, Dimitry Kebreau continued the scoring, creating a turnover and wiring it to the top and making it 3-0, ending O’Donnell’s night. With Alec Rajalin-Sharp in net, Johnstown used that as motivation and scored with Anthony Galante picking up a loose puck and outwaiting William Hakansson to make it 3-1. Maryland and Johnstown traded penalties, but never could convert on the power play. After the power play for Maryland, however, Christian Catalano picked up the puck in his own zone and weaved through the entire Johnstown defense and tucked it behind Rajalin-Sharp to make it 4-1 Maryland. While they buzzed more, it would be 4-1 at the first break.
Johnstown shook the cobwebs off from the first and got a jump on Maryland to start the second, but Hakansson made some big saves in tight spots to keep the Black Bears 4-1 lead. After withstanding that wave, the Black Bears offense started to wake up again, getting plenty of chances, including a couple off the post; but nothing in the net. That was until Gabriel Westling received a cross-ice pass from Catalano and beat Rajalin-Sharp to put the Black Bears up 5-1. Some late period drama as Kaleb Tiessen and Will Bowman got into a tussle which got them a five and game for their troubles.
The Black Bears got off to another quick start with Brad McNeil with a solid keep in the zone, drawing the defenders, and then dishing a perfect pass to Branden Piku to make it 6-1 Maryland. After trading penalties, the Tomahawks got on the board after killing off a power play, with Justin Rapp finding a loose puck at the side of the net and putting it in to make it 6-2. While the Tomahawks were pressing to get more momentum, the Black Bears kept them to the outside and the Black Bears took game one of the weekend 6-2.
OCTOBER 29th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Johnstown (2): Maryland was tested early with Johnstown wanting to get a quick start that eluded them Friday night. William Hakansson had to make some big saves early to keep the game scoreless. However, an early penalty for Maryland allowed Johnstown to score first with Anthony Galante poking home a rebound that pinballed into the net to get the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, as the Black Bears were pressing, Sean Kilcullen got his fourth goal of the year by just throwing the puck on net from the side board and beating Alec Rajalin-Sharp five-hole to tie the game up. The Black Bears would get a power play of their own towards the middle of the frame, as a tic-tac-toe passing sequence ends with Brayden Stannard getting his second of the year off a great pass from Jesse Horacek. As Maryland was buzzing, they get called for a goalie interference call against them and Johnstown took advantage with Galante taking an odd carom off the back boards and tapping it behind Hakansson to even the score.
Johnstown kept the offense going for themselves by a continuation of a power play. The Black Bears penalty killers were strong on it, as they were able to kill that penalty and another that happened later in the frame, as they got back into form. The Tomahawks kept the pressure on Maryland, but Hakansson was able to keep the puck out, leaving the score knotted at twos. The Black Bears had few attempts on goal, coming close on their chances, but not getting any behind Rajalin-Sharp and headed to the locker room tied 2-2.
In the last 20 minutes, it was a sectional period. The Black Bears kept the pressure on, but Rajalin-Sharp was solid in net, as the Johnstown defense kept the shooting lanes blocked off and made Maryland have to play off the rebounds. Johnstown then had a little blast of their own in the middle frame, getting behind the defense of Maryland and putting plenty of pressure on Hakansson, but the Swede was equal to the task. It wasn’t until 1:18 remaining when Luke Van Why took a hit to make a play, finding Hunter Ramos out in front, who backhanded one home to make the score 3-2. Just about a minute later, Adam Schankula made a great defensive play to get it out of the zone and Christian Catalano found the puck to put it into the empty net to seal the victory for Maryland 4-2.
OCTOBER 30th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Johnstown (2): The Black Bears got off to an early lead with Christian Catalano getting on the board after a 2-on-1 break with Hunter Ramos with Catalano recording his 14th goal of the season. While Johnstown tried to counterattack, the defense and Jack Wieneke were solid to keep them off the scoresheet. Just past the five minute mark, Maryland struck again as Birch Gorman found Branden Piku behind the defense and Piku went blocker side to make it 2-0 Black Bears. While Maryland kept the pressure going, the Black Bears couldn’t find the back of the net. Even on a power play with sustained pressure, Maryland couldn’t cash in. As the penalty expired, Anthony Galante came out of the penalty box to catch a pass off the boards and break in on Wieneke where he got his fourth goal of the weekend to cut the Maryland lead in half.
The start of the middle frame had some penalties on each side and then Maryland getting a power play, but the Black Bears still couldn’t crack the three-goal marker. Johnstown had a chance after their penalty kill, but Wieneke made two big saves to keep the Maryland lead. After those saves, Maryland continued their offensive momentum with Gabriel Westling getting two whacks in front of the net and putting in his sixth of the year to put Maryland up 3-1. Some penalty issues for Maryland, but that didn’t stop the offense as Trey Scott got a great pass from Kal Essenmacher and put home his second of the campaign to make it 4-1 Maryland on Scott’s shorthanded tally.
While Maryland still kept the pressure on the Johnstown end, penalties reared their ugly head towards the Black Bears. While the penalty kill was solid for the most part, a two-man advantage for Johnstown got them on the board again, as James Barbour took the face off and weaved to the open area to put it past Wieneke to cut the Black Bears’ lead 4-2. With that goal, the Tomahawks built more momentum, starting to throw all they could at Wieneke, but the netminder stayed sharp for the Black Bears and held the lead. The momentum from Johnstown would die down with penalties of their own and Maryland would take the game 4-2 and sweep the weekend.
The Black Bears head into an off-weekend, but return home to Piney Orchard on November 11th with a two-game set against the Philadelphia Rebels. Tickets available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com.