ODENTON, MD– Coming into their final home weekend of 2022, the Maryland Black Bears hoped that some home cooking would right their ship, as they came into this set against the Philadelphia Rebels on a five-game losing skid. While Maryland was in command of the offensive for the majority of the weekend, they were only able to come out of it with two points– but got those two points in dramatic fashion.
FRIDAY DECEMBER 9th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. Philadelphia (3): While the Black Bears started off with some sustained pressure in the zone off the opening faceoff, they were the ones to cede the first goal of the night, with Kris Samitis finding a rebound in front and potting home the game’s first goal. After the goal, the Rebels continued to attack, but William Hakansson was determined to not let the next one in, making some solid saves. Maryland got the power play around the middle of the frame and despite solid movement in the zone, nothing came of their chances. After the power play, Maryland continued the attack, but couldn’t get it to the inside often. When they did get chances, Jakub Krbecek was there to deny them, as the Black Bears went into the locker room down one.
Thanks to two power plays early, the Black Bears were able to put some much needed pressure onto Krbecek, but couldn’t get any behind him. With sustained zone time, the Black Bears held possession very well, but the puck luck wasn’t on their side. After another offensive push, the Rebels went the other way and Carter Casper was able to get a long rebound off a Max Marquette shot to make it 2-0 Rebels. After the goal, Maryland picked up the pressure again, but the blocked shots by the Rebels stymied their plans to get on the board. Try as they might, the Black Bears were held scoreless in the second and go into the second intermission looking to find that elusive goal.
Another fast start from the Black Bears with two solid chances from Brad McNeil and Kal Essenmacher, but Krbecek was equal to the task to keep his sheet clean in the evening. Trying to stretch the ice, the Black Bears were looking for home-run passes, but they couldn’t connect and pinned Maryland in their own zone due to icing calls from those passes not connecting. But hard work paid off for Maryland, as another flurry of shots came at Krbecek and McNeil was able to find the puck and tuck it home to get the Teddy Bear Toss goal and cut the Rebels lead in half. A late assist was given to Branden Piku, who tied the all-time points mark at 82 with former captain Luke Mountain. While buzzing some more, the Black Bears got called for a late penalty and couldn’t get all the pressure they could in the final minutes. Even so, Maryland pulled Hakansson and Tyler Stern went the length of the ice and scored to make the final 3-1.
SATURDAY DECEMBER 10th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Philadelphia (4) OT: Trying to snap their skid, the Black Bears were the aggressors offensively, trying to get to Jakub Krbecek early, but could not find the back of the net in the early going. As has been happening recently, despite all the chances the Black Bears get, the opposition is able to pick up the puck and get on the board. That happened in this game, as after a flurry of chances; Max Hamstad was able to skate down the ice and rip one past Jack Wieneke to make it 1-0. Maryland didn’t sulk, as they continued the aggressive forecheck, which created a turnover at the point, leading to Brad McNeil getting the first Maryland goal again, as Dimitry Kebreau found the captain coming down the slot and put it right on McNeil’s stick for him to rip one home to tie the game up. No rest in this game, as the Rebels got back into the game with Charles Panchisin picking up a deflected puck at the side of the net and sliding it in for a 2-1 Rebels lead. After a bit of back and forth, the Black Bears tied it up late on the power play with Hunter Ramos finding Branden Piku in front for the goal and record-breaking point– as it moved Piku into sole possession of all-time points for the Black Bears.
Coming off a strong finish, the Black Bears again took command offensively, not letting the Rebels get much into the offensive zone, even with the Rebels getting some power plays. However, the bouncing pucks would be an undoing of the Black Bears, both in the offensive end of the ice with pucks not settling down for Maryland and then on another Rebels’ power play– the puck bouncing off a deflection and landing on David Deputy’s stick for him to put it in to make it 3-2 midway through the middle frame. More pressure from Maryland was thwarted and they went into the intermission down by one.
The Rebels got off to an early start, as Hamstad got his second of the game off a rebound in front of the net and gave Philadelphia a two-goal lead. Maryland kept hustling, creating plenty of chances while shorthanded and kept that going through the first half of the period to try and make it a one-goal attempt. That came when Brayden Stannard finished off a give-and-go with Adam Schankula to put Maryland to within one. With that goal, the Black Bears get an extra gear and after the media timeout were able to even the score with Gunnar VanDamme driving to the net and was taken down as he tapped in a Piku pass behind Krbecek, which was initially called off. After a discussion, the referee and linesmen get the call right and VanDamme ties the game. Each side had their chances late to end it in regulation, but this game couldn’t be decided in regulation.
It was an interesting 1:09 of overtime, as Samuel Stitz was hauled down and ran into Kbrecek. Krbecek then punched Stitz in the head and back. Stitz was given a minor penalty and Krbecek was given a major and was ejected from the game. Just after the fracas, Wieneke made a huge save on a mini-break to keep the OT going. On the ensuing power play, the Black Bears kept possession and worked the puck around wonderfully to find Piku who hammered home a one-timer pass to end the game and end the Black Bears 2022 home schedule with a victory.
The Black Bears are on the road for the last series of the weekend, as they head up to Maine to take on the Nordiques for the first time this season before the holiday break.