ODENTON, MD– Coming back home to the friendly confines of Piney Orchard, the Maryland Black Bears looked to continue their undefeated run at home. However, they ran into a New Jersey Titans team that’s on a hot streak. For the first time all season, the Black Bears lost at home and also got swept, dropping both games to the Titans and looking for answers on how to stay disciplined and when to get bounces in their favor.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 25th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. New Jersey (5): The after effects of a Turkey Day meal did not slow down the Black Bears, as they got off to a quick start. Plenty of chances for the Black Bears early, but they couldn’t find the twine behind Zakari Brice. Even with chances on the power play, Maryland was held scoreless for the first half of the frame. That was until the penalty kill and Dimitry Kebreau changed that. With the puck going to the point, Kebreau snatched the puck from a Titan’s defender and took it all by himself and beat Brice to make it 1-0. That was Kebreau’s fifth shorthanded goal of the season, setting the single-season mark for most by a Black Bear. Maryland wouldn’t quit, as they were on puck carriers left and right; creating turnovers and opportunities for themselves, but they couldn’t find another one behind Brice after 20 minutes.
New Jersey came out in the second with a purpose, as they attacked William Hakansson early and often in the first five minutes. Despite Maryland having solid chances in their own end, the Titans would tie the game with Eric Charpentier getting a loose puck and ripping it over the shoulder of Hakansson to even the score. Moments later, the Titans would take the lead as the Black Bears missed coverage on the backdoor play and Owen Luik had all day and put it in to put the Titans up 2-1. The Black Bears flipped the switch after that and pushed against the Titans. They would level the score with Kaleb Tiessen hitting Christian Catalano with a home-run pass and Catalano making no doubt about it for his 20th of the season and a tie game. With that goal, Catalano set the Black Bears’ single-season record for goals. The tie was short-lived, as after the media timeout; Ben Muthersbaugh got the rebound on the backdoor and puts it into the yawning cage to make it 3-2 New Jersey. Caleb Craven tried to ignite the Black Bears in a fight with Anthony Calafiore, but a double minor for Maryland killed that momentum. The Titans would extend their lead with a redirection by Levante Keresztes off a rush and gave New Jersey a two-goal lead.
Knowing they needed a big period, the Black Bears were on the attack from the hop, as they swarmed the net of Brice and tried to cut the lead. It took them a bit, but with 12:09 remaining, Hunter Ramos picked up a rebound from an Adam Schankula shot and cut the deficit to one goal. Maryland tried to find the equalizer, but couldn’t get a bounce to go their way. With 1:25 remaining, New Jersey sealed the game with Michael Young winning a puck battle off the face off and putting it behind Hakansson to make it 5-3, the eventual final.
SATURDAY NOVEMBER 26th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. New Jersey (2): The Black Bears got out of the gates hot with some quick chances against Zakari Brice, but didn’t get any to fall. Down the other end, New Jersey started to carry some of the offensive play in the middle part of the frame, but William Hakansson was stellar on the chances– many of them in close– to keep the game scoreless. The Black Bears would lose a big part of their squad at the end of the frame, with Sean Kilcullen getting a spearing major and game misconduct. The start of the major penalty kill was nullified thanks to Adam Schankula’s hard work at the point to get a block and draw a penalty on a possible break the other way.
Into the second, New Jersey got into some penalty troubles, but the Black Bears couldn’t cash in. After one of the early penalties for New Jersey expired, Brendan Dumas had a breakaway chance out of the box, but Hakansson made a big pad stop and then gloved the rebound attempt by Brady Hildreth to keep the game scoreless. Tempers flared between Dumas and Christian Catalano, resulting in five minute fighting majors for both, while Dumas getting a game misconduct. While the Black Bears couldn’t score on the power play from an additional Dumas minor, they kept attacking Brice and finally broke through. Schankula drove the net and Brice blockered it into his defenseman and it trickled into the net for Schankula’s fourth of the year with 1:40 left in the middle frame, which is how the period would finish.
At the beginning of the third, the penalty bug caught the Black Bears and began an unravelling. Riley Ruh got a five minute major and game misconduct on a boarding call and New Jersey cashed in to start the power play. Dominik Bartecko skated the puck around the zone and brought it to the left circle and ripped it behind Hakansson to tie the game up. Moments after the goal, Maryland got dinged for another penalty to put them down two men. Bartecko struck again, with Ben Muthersbaugh finding Bartecko streaking down the slot and Bartecko went glove side on Hakansson to give the Black Bears the lead. Trying to get the equalizer, the Black Bears couldn’t get a bounce to get past Brice, getting swept for the first time all season by a score of 2-1.
The Black Bears will travel up to Massachusetts to take on the Northeast Generals for the first time this season on Friday and Saturday nights.