Black Bears Take Three of Four Points in Classic Weekend Against Maine

LEWISTON, ME– In their last series of the 2022 calendar year, the Maryland Black Bears made the trip up to Maine to take on the Nordiques for the first time this season. Two teams that historically have matched up very well put on another show this weekend, with both games going to extra time and both teams pulling out victories and going home with three points this weekend. 

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY DECEMBER 16th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) at Maine (4) SO: Maryland tried to get things started with an early power play, but could not connect, despite having solid time in the offensive zone. Maine, however, looked to use their speed against the Black Bears defense, sneaking forwards behind the Maryland blue liners. Even with that, William Hakansson was able to deny the Nordiques’ efforts with some solid saves early on. It took until the middle of the frame for Maryland to get rolling, starting with Hunter Ramos potting home his 12th of the season by pick-pocketing the defense and walking in to rip a shot over the shoulder of Thomas Heaney to give Maryland the lead. Maine took a penalty later on the period and even though Maryland didn’t convert, Samuel Stitz tallied his fourth of the campaign two seconds after the penalty expired with Riley Ruh putting a great pass to Stitz and the Air Force commit hammered it home to put the Black Bears up 2-0. Maine counter-attacked after the goal, but Hakansson was sharp; while also getting help from his defense. That included Luke Van Why deflected a rebound attempted out of harm’s way to keep the clean sheet alive after 20 minutes. 

The Black Bears would continue to attack the Nords zone, sustaining possession plenty in the first part of the second, but unable to find the space behind Heaney. As has been a trend, the Black Bears attacked so well, but came up short; then the opposition went the other way and cashed in. Maine would cash in with Kim Hilmersson hammering a rebound from the circle to put Maine to within one goal. Less than two minutes later, Maine tied the game after beating out an icing and Nick Bernardo tagging a one-timer passed Hakansson to even the score. With 5:25 remaining, the Black Bears get back the lead with Van Why potting his fifth of the year after getting a drop pass from Ramos and went post and in to give Maryland the 3-2 lead. One minute later, however, Maine would tie it back up with Bernardo again taking a turnover, skating in, and wired a shot top corner as the score was deadlocked after 40 minutes. 

In the makings of a regular season classic, the Black Bears started to get some mojo back and would cash in on another power play chance, as Sean Kilcullen hammered a shot as he crept down the right side for his fifth of the season and gave Maryland the lead again. The Maine counter-attack was fast and furious with the Black Bears absorbing all they could and keeping their lead in the slimmest of manners. It wasn’t until a late icing and defensive zone faceoff where the Nords would tie it up. With 10 seconds left, Anthony Achille tapped in a rebound off the post to put this game into overtime. 

The overtime period was very back and forth with each side having prime chances, but Hakansson and Heaney kept their squads in it with stellar saves and pushed it to a shootout. During the skills competition, the goalies shone through, too. Both squads scored a goal in the third and final regulation round with Stitz and Jonny Meiers scoring during the first three. The goalies made big saves following that, minus the times where the forwards just lost the handle of the puck when they came in. It all ended when Kareem El-Bashir made a simple forehand/backhand move to beat Heaney, while Hakansson was able to force Aidan Coupe to lose the puck giving the Black Bears a dramatic shootout win. 

SATURDAY DECEMBER 17th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Maine (4) OT: The Nordiques were quick on the Black Bears, controlling the offense for the first part of the frame. William Hakansson was stellar to start the game and stave off the attack from Maine. Maryland got on the board first again, as Brad McNeil put an almost no angle shot on net and it squeaked under Kael Depape’s elbow and gave Maryland the lead. The Black Bears kept the pressure on and started to pin the Nords in their own zone. Like the night before, Maryland got a two-goal lead with Branden Piku finding a seam in the offensive zone and ripping home his 11th of the campaign for the 2-0 lead. That goal stirred Maine up, as they were firing more and more at the Black Bears, who withstood the pressure and went to the locker room up two goals. 

Maryland kept the pressure on the Maine goal, firing plenty at Depape. Kaleb Tiessen was able to find a gap on Depape, with a wrister from the slot to make it a 3-0 game. However, that did not bury the Nordiques who kept their speed going and kept attacking the Black Bears, finally paying off with Oliver Genest picking up the puck at the side of the net and tucking it behind Hakansson for Maine’s first goal. Less than two minutes later, Maine struck again as Filip Wiberg redirected a shot from the point to cut the Black Bears lead to one. Maine’s speed and tenacity was on full display, not giving Maryland much time or space to get out of their zone or attack offensively as they had in the first half of the game. The Black Bears were able to go into the locker room up by a goal. 

The net front presence by the Nords would prove havoc for Maryland, as Maine was getting quality chances due to jamming up the front of the crease. It paid off with Genest getting his second of the night on a redirect in front and fooling Hakansson to tie the game. The Nordiques outshot the Black Bears 17-6 in the third period, but Hakansson stayed sharp to keep the game tied. Maryland’s offense just couldn’t break through the neutral zone for Maine and they were unable to get sustainable time in the offensive zone. However, this game would need extra time to decide with both teams getting a point. 

In the overtime, the Black Bears had plenty of possession time and had some good looks on Depape, but the right-handed catch goalie was equal to the task and shut down the Black Bears offense. With only ten seconds left, Maine got the extra point with Evan Orloff one-timed a shot from the slot to win it and split the weekend for both teams. 

These two teams will play each other in three weeks time, but it’ll be at Piney Orchard in the first games of the new year for Maryland. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com so you can start your new year off right with the Black Bears.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: