DANBURY, CT– After opening the weekend with a sweep, the Black Bears traveled to Danbury to take on the Jr. Hat Tricks. Danbury had lost 20 games coming into it and may have looked like a trap weekend for Maryland if they weren’t careful. However, the Black Bears battled back Friday and dominated Saturday for another weekend sweep.
FRIDAY JANUARY 13th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (3) at Danbury (2): A rested Danbury squad came out of the shute pretty fast, attacking the Black Bears and William Hakansson early in the first frame, while holding off Maryland’s advantages. It paid off early, as Danbury got on the board first on Chase Sandu’s fifth goal of the year less than six minutes into the game. The Black Bears would get into a rhythm but couldn’t quite figure out Patriks Berzins, who is back from his trip to the World Juniors for Latvia. Despite the pressure on Berzins, nothing would come from it in the first frame. Danbury would pot another goal late into the first with a bouncing puck in the crease with the last touch by Griffin Zafke getting past Hakansson for a 2-0 Jr. Hat Tricks lead. Needing a spark, the Black Bears’ captain Brad McNeil got into a tilt with Jacob Roberson, which led to a five and ten for fighting, but an additional two to Roberson gave Maryland a power play to start the second.
It wouldn’t take long for Maryland to take advantage of the power play, with Christian Catalano notching his 23rd of the year off a wicked wrister getting past Berzins and helping Maryland cut the lead in half. After killing off an extended five-on-three, Maryland drew a penalty of their own, putting them on another power play and also cashing in on it. Kal Essenmacher cranked a one-timer for his third of the year and helped Maryland even up the scoring. The Black Bears did find some fortune at the other end, with Danbury looking to take the lead, but somehow the puck didn’t cross the goal-line thanks to the Maryland defense coming back. Not only that, but Hakansson came up big in a late flurry in front of the net to keep the game tied after 40.
Looking to get a lead on the night, the captain came through again, as Brad McNeil broke the tie by driving to the net and picking up an Adam Schankula rebound to make it 3-2. Danbury tried to respond and put plenty of pressure on the Black Bears, including a shorthanded breakaway– but Hakansson and the Black Bears defense were equal to the task and kept the Jr. Hat Tricks in check and took home the come-from-behind victory in the first game of the weekend.
SATURDAY JANUARY 14th, 2023: BLACK BEARS (6) at Danbury (0): The chippiness of this game started early and resulted in the Black Bears getting the first power play of the game. That paved the way for Adam Schankula to pot his seventh goal of the year off an incredible play by both Luke Van Why and Kaleb Tiessen to keep the puck in the zone and keep the play alive. Danbury would make some push-back against Maryland, but Jack Wieneke was solid in his crease and kept the Jr. Hat Tricks at bay. The rough stuff continued with Schankula getting into the second fight of the period– the first was Caleb Craven– and had a party in the penalty box for the Black Bears, going into the locker room up 1-0.
Another early power play for Maryland paid off with Brad McNeil getting a redirection on a Christian Catalano shot to make it 2-0 for the Black Bears. Three minutes later, the Black Bears got a third power play goal of the night, this time Branden Piku picked up a blocked shot and wired it home to make it 3-0 for the Black Bears on three power play goals. At the middle of the frame, Trayce Johnson took the face-off from Kal Essenmacher and ripped home his first of the year for a 4-0 lead and the end of Patriks Berzins’ night. Maryland would continue to dominate Danbury, outshooting them 13-3 and taking a 4-0 lead into the last period.
When it’s your night, it’s your night– as the Black Bears scored 16 seconds into the period when McNeil attempted to dump the puck in and it hit the stanchion along the glass and fooled Matt O’Donnell who was coming out of his net to play it– but the puck went right into the open net for a 5-0 Black Bears lead. Minutes later, Samuel Stitz picked up a Catalano rebound to make it 6-0 for Maryland. The rest of the game, Maryland just kept the Jr. Hat Tricks at bay to preserve the shutout for Wieneke, his second of the season.
The Black Bears next travel up to Maine to take on the Nordiques, who they saw just two weekends ago.