ODENTON, MD– In what could be a preview of the first round, the Maryland Black Bears welcomed the Northeast Generals in their last regular season meeting. While it was a grind between the two squads, it was a push for the series; with each team taking a game on the weekend.
FRIDAY MARCH 24, 2023: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Northeast (6): Maryland got off to a solid start, putting plenty of chances on Cullen DeYoung thanks to forwards getting behind the defenders to create breaks. However, DeYoung was equal to the task and kept his scoresheet at zero. Northeast would break through with Matthew DeSpirt hammering home a rebound off of William Hakansson’s pad to make it 1-0. Despite chances after the goal, the Black Bears went into the first intermission down.
Maryland continued to push in the second period, finally breaking through past the midway point with Adam Schankula tipping home a Trey Scott shot for his 11th of the year. However, during the goal celebration, the Black Bears started their penalty woes for the frame. While they killed off the first penalty, Frank D’Ancona put home his seventh to give Northeast the lead. With back-to-back penalties to put themselves down two men, Northeast struck twice in 1:22 with Ryan Remick and David Andreychuk putting home power play goals and giving Northeast the 4-1 lead heading into the second intermission. It would be the end of Hakansson’s night with Jack Wieneke starting the third.
Starting early in the frame, the Black Bears cut the lead in half with Dimitry Kebreau notching his 22nd off a great pass from Samuel Stitz in front to make it 4-2. While Wieneke did his best to keep the Black Bears in it, Jake LaRusso would make the most of a turnover in the Black Bears zone and rifled one past Wieneke to make it 5-2 Generals. Then things started to break down with both squads started to get into the playoff spirit with some scrums after the whistle, including a fight off the face off with Caleb Craven and Nick Ramm. Another penalty late for Maryland sealed it for Northeast with Andreychuk netting another power play goal to give Northeast the 6-2 victory.
SATURDAY MARCH 25, 2023: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Northeast (1): Knowing they needed a jump, the Black Bears offense started strong, as they always do trying to get to Cullen DeYoung early. It wasn’t until the 12:24 mark until the Black Bears struck with Dimitry Kebreau scoring a goal that ricocheted off the back of the back bar so quickly, the referee initially called it a no-goal. After much discussion, the goal counted and it was 1-0 Black Bears. Only 2:07 later is when Maryland would extend the lead with Adam Schankula getting a loose puck in front and putting it home for his 12th of the season and giving Maryland the 2-0 lead after one. William Hakansson was back in net and played stellar in the first, stopping all seven shots he faced.
Northeast would get on the board early in the second, as Andrew DellaDonna scored 34 seconds into the period to cut the lead in half. Maryland would get into some penalty trouble, but the penalty kill stood strong and supported Hakansson on the puck. Maryland would have their big chances later on in the frame, but couldn’t find the net behind DeYoung in the middle stanza.
The third had some quick chances for Northeast, but Hakansson would be strong in net, keeping the game at one-goal; but the Maryland offense wouldn’t be denied. As they kept peppering the net, it was better late than never with Christian Catalano patiently outwaiting the defense and DeYoung to make it 3-1 on his 29th of the season. With only one second remaining and the goalie pulled, Gabriel Westling would notch the empty net goal and secure the Black Bears 4-1 victory in a split of the weekend.
Maryland now goes on the road for their last road trip of the regular season against the Philadelphia Rebels on Friday and Saturday nights.