Fast Start on Friday, Unlucky Breaks Saturday Lead to Black Bears’ Split

ODENTON, MD– After dropping four of their last five games, the Maryland Black Bears returned home for a date with the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Jockeying for position, the Black Bears faced a team who came into the weekend on an eight-game slide. However, after a sharp first period Friday, Danbury used their momentum for the rest of the series to help them split the weekend with Maryland. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY, MARCH 4th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Danbury (2): It was an emotional night as the Team Maryland Hockey Director and Black Bears scout Chris Ceransky passed away earlier in the day. The Black Bears had four starters who had gone through the Team Maryland system to honor what Ceransky provided for the area in his development of players to the next level. 

Having lost four of their last five, the Black Bears knew they needed a quick start, which is what they got by taking the offensive game to Danbury. Creating some offensive zone time and peppering Marino Ramirez in the Jr. Hat Tricks’ net. Enough chances paid off for the Black Bears, as Tyler Young tapped in the first goal after Jacob Brockman out waited the Danbury defense and Ramirez and threw it at the vacant cage, but Young was there to open up the scoring. It only took 38 seconds for the Black Bears to score again, with Brockman finding a streaking Jack Blanchett who roofed it over Ramirez to put Maryland up 2-0. Danbury started to gain some offensive momentum of their own after the second goal, but Michael Morelli was solid in the early going with good saves and solid positioning. Though they didn’t score on their first power play, the Black Bears used the momentum off that to create their third goal, with Dimitry Kebreau redirecting a Kevin Scott shot to make it a 3-0 game. Scoring in bunches, the Black Bears struck again 20 seconds later with Elliott Lareau starting a 2-on-1 with Laker Aldridge ending with Aldridge wiring one past Ramirez for the 4-0 lead. 

Danbury got off to a much better start in the second period, starting to get their offense going. Their speed was able to draw a penalty early in the frame, which resulted in an odd bounces going their way. Kevin Scott tried to clear the puck on the penalty kill, but it hit off Gabe Dombrowski and behind Morelli for Danbury’s first goal of the game. While Maryland started to push back and not let the floodgates open, Danbury cut the lead in half with Luka Sukovic getting behind the defense and beating Morelli. After the goal, things got out of hand as a high hit on Jesse Horacek by Hunter Young led to a line-brawl including a goalie fight resulting in mayhem overall. Even with the five-minute major power play, the Black Bears couldn’t get any goals in it. Right after the power play, Ryan Bottrill was given a gift as Brockman picked off an errandly played puck by Connor McDonough and fed Bottrill to make it 5-2 Maryland. 

Some more bad blood in the third, as the physicality picked up a notch, leading to Aldrdige and Hunter McCurdy getting into a spirited affair. There were plenty of extra-curricular activities after the whistle between the teams, as both sides were running hot. Maryland’s penalty kill created some offense in their lone appearance of the frame, including a shot off the cross-bar by Lareau on one of the attempts. Luca Di Pasquo, who replaced Morelli after the fight, was able to stand tall in net with two big saves later in the period. With those saves, the Black Bears were able to hold onto the 5-2 win. 

SATURDAY, MARCH 5th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. Danbury (2): After the night before, the Jr. Hat Tricks carried the pace, building off the end of Friday’s game and controlling the offensive play. Luca Di Pasquo was tested by Danbury early, but tracked the puck well and kept them at bay. Maryland couldn’t get much of anything going offensively, as Danbury played solid in their defensive zone, getting their sticks and bodies in the way of any Maryland chance. The only marker in the first frame was from Danbury, as Robert Hyde deflected a Hunter McCurdy shot that fooled Di Pasquo and made it 1-0 for the Jr. Hat Tricks. 

The Black Bears woke up a bit in the second in part to an early power play. That allowed Maryland to get their offense going a bit, getting time in the offensive zone and some shots on Connor McDonough, but nothing was able to get behind the Danbury netminders. Even with all the offensive zone time, the Jr. Hat Tricks struck again– this time due to some issues in the defensive zone with a couple turnovers when trying to break-out; but Di Pasquo mishandled a puck behind the net and Boris Skalov was able to cash to make it 2-0 Danbury. Despite more offensive zone time and some better chances from the Black Bears; they were unable to let the fish fly after 40 minutes. 

The pressure from the Black Bears started to increase for the third period knowing they had an uphill battle ahead. Even with the shots on net, Danbury’s tight checking did not allow any Black Bears to get free and pounce on the rebounds. It wasn’t until the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo for the extra attacker that Maryland struck, as Conor Cole pumped a one-timer homer off a great set-up by Sean Kilcullen and cut the lead in half with just over a minute remaining. Even with a late push in the last minute, Maryland couldn’t get the tying goal and dropped the game 2-1 to split the weekend. 

Maryland will be back at home next weekend, as the Jamestown Rebels are in town Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com via the Severn Bank Ticket Center.

Black Bears Drop Two to Johnstown in Thrilling Three-Game Rivalry Weekend

JOHNSTOWN, PA– An odd three-game set between two rivals battling for position in the NAHL East turned out to be classics once again, as the Black Bears traveled to Western PA to take on Johnstown. All three games had solid action, with the last two being solid classics in this rivalry. Unfortunately for the Black Bears, they only got two of six points and slide to third in the NAHL East standings. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 24th, 2002: BLACK BEARS (1) at Johnstown (4): Coming into town during a nasty storm, the Black Bears return to Johnstown for the first time since October 2nd. Off the hop, the Black Bears got into penalty trouble with a tripping call, but the penalty kill was able to keep the Tomahawks to the perimeter, limiting their effectiveness. After the kill, the Black Bears looked to gain some momentum, playing well on 5-on-5 chances and getting some sustained offense in the Johnstown zone. Despite the chances, Johnstown struck first as they cycled down low to get Maryland chasing, leaving Stephen Kyrkostas unchecked in the slot, putting it behind Michael Morelli to get the early lead. Maryland responded two minutes later, as Brad McNeil potted his seventh of the year thanks to great work by Branden Piku to win the puck battle along the boards and finding McNeil in front for the tying goal. The defensive zone issues continued, as there were some mishaps leading to Morelli needing to be sharp and keep the game tied up. That would be ended with only four seconds left, as a turnover led to Braedon Ford getting open for a one-timer off a Kyrkostas’ pass to make it 2-1 before the intermission. 

Despite some chances on  an early power play, Maryland could not even the game up early in the second; even with solid movement in the zone in the first half of it. After the power play, Johnstown was able to shift the balance in their end, eventually upping their lead to 3-1 thanks to a Jake Black redirect off a Tyler DesRochers slap-pass with Morelli not having much of a shot on it. The Black Bears then got another power play on a slashing penalty, but could not get much going due to Johnstown stacking the blue line and stopping Maryland in their tracks. While they had some zone time post-power play, Maryland couldn’t get within one before Johnstown went up 4-1 in transition with Johnny Ulicny patiently holding the puck, drawing the defense, then finding Kyrkostas wide open for the easy tap in. With another power play yielding no goal, the Black Bears went into the intermission down three. 

Johnstown took over control in the third period, outshooting the Black Bears 13-6, but Morelli was sharp when facing the shots, keeping the scoring at 4-1. Maryland got back-to-back penalties, which actually yielded a solid chance for Ryan Bottrill on a diving play off a pass from Tyler Young, but it couldn’t get past Matt O’Donnell. Even with the power play at the middle of the frame, the offense for the Black Bears could not figure out O’Donnell, making the final 4-1 for the Tomahawks. 

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 25th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (6) at Johnstown (5): On the 45th anniversary of the release of “Slap Shot,” which was filmed in Johnstown, the Black Bears knew they had to be as aggressive as the movie portrayed hockey to be. One issue that haunted the Black Bears in recent games happened again, as Johnstown struck first with Maryland unable to get the puck out of the zone, Johnny Ulicny was able to get behind the defense and beat Luca Di Pasquo. Maryland would get it right back 41 seconds later as Miles Gunty potted his ninth of the year redirecting a slap-pass from Kevin Scott into the yawning cage to even the score. Building off that momentum, Maryland was looking to create their own luck– which they did 1:22 later when Scott dumped the puck into the Tomahawks zone, it took an odd carom and got behind Matt O’Donnell to give the Black Bears their first lead of the weekend. The Black Bears sustained their pressure in the offensive zone, which lead to their third goal from Jack Blanchett who got a solid pass from Laker Aldridge and wired it home for his ninth of the year and gave Maryland the two-goal lead. 

Another issue plaguing the Black Bears has been bulk-size penalties the team has been taking. This started late in the frame, as Johnstown got to within one goal before the end of the period as Jake Black got a deflection off a skate in front and behind Di Pasquo to cut the Maryland lead to one before the end of the frame. 

Maryland looked to get back on the offensive swing to start the second and would be able to control the pace for the majority of the period. The two-goal lead was regained when Jacob Brockman had all the time and space in the slot and fired it behind O’Donnell to make it 4-2. Johnstown got a power play around the middle of the frame and were able to turn the tide a bit, holding the Black Bears in their defensive zone, tiring out the penalty killers– but no goals to show for it. After Vlad Polegoshko was denied on a breakaway coming out of the box. Jesse Horacek made it a three-goal lead, deflecting a Blanchett bomb from the point to make it 5-2. 

The third period is when all the penalties almost took Maryland for a turn. Early in the third, Johnstown only needed 12 seconds of power play time before potting their third goal of the game with Sean Ramsey gathering a rebound at the side of the net and putting it home. Right after the goal, however, Maryland got a power play that they were able to cash in on, as Tyler Young weaved out of the corner and put it through O’Donnell to give the Black Bears their three-goal lead back. Maryland then had three straight penalties called on them. They were able to dodge the first one without harm, but the second penalty allowed Johnstown to get back within two, as Stephen Kyrkostas getting a rebound off the end board and shoveling it into the net. In the last of the eight penalties the Black Bears took, Black was able to find a loose puck around the crease and put it past Di Pasquo to cut the Maryland lead to one. Despite pressing with the extra attacker, the Black Bears held off the pressure for the 6-5 victory. 

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at Johnstown (3): The Black Bears continued their offensive ways on Saturday, as they took control of the first period offensively, pinning Johnstown in their zone, but were unable to capitalize early on Dominik Wasik in net. The defense for the Black Bears, which was four units strong, held the Tomahawks at bay for most of the period, only allowing three shots on Luca Di Pasquo. Unfortunately, the second shot of the period handcuffed Di Pasquo, as Braedon Ford wristed one from the left side to make it 1-0. Maryland stayed persistent, continuing to take the fight to Johnstown, who got themselves into some penalty troubles in the first. The Black Bears were able to cash in on the second power play of the night, with Elliott Lareau wristing one home from the top of the circles to tie the game late in the first. 

Continuing the offensive fire, Maryland took it to Wasik and the Tomahawks, eventually breaking through in the first five minutes of the period. A save at one end by Di Pasquo transitioned the play for Maryland, as quick passing from Jesse Horacek to Tyler Young ended with Young finding Ryan Bottrill for the goal and the lead. Johnstown would fight back in the middle part of the frame, starting to get their legs underneath them more and crashing the Black Bears net. They crashed it so hard that their second goal had a bit of controversy in it, as Di Pasquo was bumped in front of the net as a shot from Frank Jenkins came from the point and got tipped by Jake Black to tie the game. Despite some conferring, the goal was counted. Maryland was able to close out the period strong, trying to gain some momentum back and get another go-ahead goal, but to no avail. 

The third period was a battle, with neither team wanting to give up an inch. Maryland was able to get some shots on, as did Johnstown, but both defenses were selling out left and right to block shots and get into passing lanes. For a rivalry game that usually has some bad blood, both teams played a smart, penalty-less third period– thanks to the refs for letting them play. However, it didn’t end the way Maryland wanted to, as with 1:44 remaining, as dump-in was mishandled by the Maryland defense and Jacob Badal found Jake Black on a bang-bang play to make it 3-2 late in the game. Even with a late push with the goalie pulled, Maryland comes up short on Saturday. 

The Black Bears return home this Friday and Saturday against the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com through the Severn Bank Ticket Center.

Scoring Drought Leads to Black Bears Getting Swept by New Jersey

ODENTON, MD– Another match-up of the top two teams in the East Division was showcased this weekend with New Jersey coming to visit the Maryland Black Bears. After splitting every weekend in 2022 so far, the Black Bears were only able to find the back of the net once in the week, leading them to being swept on home ice for the first time in the 2021-22 season. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 18th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. New Jersey (4): The Titans got on the Maryland defense quickly, testing Luca Di Pasquo by getting behind the defense and creating top chances for themselves, but nothing to show on the scoreboard. Defensive zone coverage would be an issue in the first part of the period, but Maryland would get the offense going against former Black Bear Andrew Takacs, but Takacs would turn away the chances for Maryland. The Black Bears would then go shorthanded the rest of the game, as Laker Aldridge got a game misconduct for being an aggressor for a fight against Coleman Nee, when Nee didn’t want to be a willing participant. Maryland’s PK was strong in killing the major penalty, while also getting some chances for themselves. Going to the break, it would be scoreless. 

Maryland killed off the last part of the major, while also drawing a penalty for themselves to get their first, and only, power play of the night. However, the bad breaks started on this power play, as New Jersey turned a bobble at the blue line by the Maryland power play into a shorthanded goal, as Michael Young took a Ryan Coughlin pass and beat Di Pasquo to make it 1-0 New Jersey. The Black Bears offense would try to rebound after the goal, sustaining more pressure in the zone, but the Titans would strike again as on a transition, Levante Keresztes would go for a skate around the zone, coming out in front for a shot on Di Pasquo. The rebound would go off of Maryland’s Conor Cole shin pad and into the net for a 2-0 Titans’ lead. Undaunted, the Maryland offense kept pressure on Takacs, sustaining possession in their offensive zone for almost three minutes straight, hitting two crossbars in that time frame. However, the bad beats happened as the Titans finally got out of that pressure and were able to turn it around with Ryan Coughlin taking a Nick Ring pass and making it 3-0 on Coughlin’s ninth of the year and creating a deflating moment for the Black Bears after their sustained zone time. 

Finally in the third, Maryland would strike five minutes in with Brad McNeil taking a nice pass from Dimitry Kebreau and firing home his sixth of the season off the wing to cut the Titans’ lead to 3-1. Maryland would follow up with more zone time, but couldn’t seem to get much quality chances on Takacs that would create rebounds. The constant pressing allowed the Titans to get behind the Black Bears’ defense, leading to Tommy Bannister getting a breakaway and turning it into a 4-1 Titans lead. Following that goal, the Black Bears would try to find holes in the Titans defense and get shots on Takacs; but none would pass, as the final buzzer sounded to give the Titans the 4-1 victory. 

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 19th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (0) vs. New Jersey (3): Maryland got off to a solid start, getting some zone time for themselves in trying to get the offense kick-started, but it was short-lived, as New Jersey started to create some havoc for the Maryland defense when the Black Bears were trying to break out of their zone. That led to a penalty against Maryland, which they killed off– then the offense was able to draw a penalty. The Black Bears couldn’t get much clicking on their power play, which led to a late penalty called on Maryland to cancel it out. On the second power play for New Jersey, Levante Keresztes was unchecked in front of the net and got the puck with plenty of time and put it behind Luca Di Pasquo to give the Titans the early lead. Maryland showed signs of life in the offensive zone towards the end of the frame, but Andrew Takacs stood tall in net to keep it 1-0 through 20 minutes. 

The Titans took control of the game in the second. They were hard on the forecheck and were able to stymie any clearing attempt the Black Bears made. They cut the ice in half and made it hard for Maryland to do anything in the neutral zone. New Jersey took that extended zone time to their advantage, as they struck again with former Black Bear Anthony Mollica wiring a shot from the side boards through a screen to beat Di Pasquo and make it 2-0. Even though they had a late power play, the Black Bears offense couldn’t muster many shots– only registering four in the second stanza. 

Sensing the urgency, the Black Bears finally started to attack more in the offensive end. Plenty of chances down keep, some sustained pressure on Takacs, and even a shot off the post from Elliott Lareau, but Maryland couldn’t find the back of the net to get back into the frame. They had some more defensive issues, with a couple turnovers in the frame, but Di Pasquo was able to keep the team in it, as well as other Black Bears able to come back and cover for their teammates. With Di Pasquo pulled, however, the Titans were able to secure a 3-0 lead with an empty net wrap-around by Michael Young on the power play. Despite a last push to break the shutout, the Titans held off the attack and took the 3-0 win and sweep on the weekend. 

The Black Bears will head to Johnstown for a three-game set from Thursday until Saturday against the Tomahawks, who are only three points behind the Black Bears for second place in the East Division.

Black Bears Hosting “O Canada Night” This Weekend

Canada and Maryland are home of hockey firsts. In Windsor, Nova Scotia, the first hockey game was document was being played in 1844, while the first indoor game was in Montreal in 1875. Baltimore, Maryland hosted the first game of college hockey between Yale and Johns Hopkins in 1896. It’s fitting that at The Den on Saturday, the Maryland Black Bears will be hosting “O Canada Night” to honor the neighbors to the north and to further appreciate the Canadian content that the Black Bears have on their team.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

Captain Conor Cole and forward Elliott Lareau are the only Canadian players on the roster, while coaches Clint Mylymok and Kim Weiss are of Canadian descent, as well. In fact, the Black Bears over their four-year existence have had six other Canadians on their roster: Josh Nixon, Dylan Finlay, Bryden Sinclair, Adam Schankula, Colt Corpse, and Kyle Oleksiuk.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

“O Canada Night” follows in past heritage nights like Swedish Heritage Night in 2020. The dignitaries will be out for this one, as the Honorable Heather Grant will be on-hand to drop the first puck and take in the Titans/Black Bears match-up. Minister Grant is the Minister of Intergovermental and Public Affairs to the US at the Embassy in Canada.

For this organization to hold these heritage night is a nice nod to the players who hail from there. While they’re far away from home, to be able to bring a little bit of home to them for a night is wonderful for further inclusion from the team. Not only that, as someone who experienced the Swedish Heritage Night, a time to take in and learn about a different culture, their delicacies, and their lifestyle.

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

As someone who took a test to get their Canadian citizenship, it’s great to see the Black Bears celebrate Canada and allow the area to appreciate the country that gave the world hockey, Bryan Adams, and poutine. Plenty of Canadian music, trivia, and who knows– maybe poutine will be flowing at the rink. Want to partake?? Just go to Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com and get your seats to experience O Canada Night for yourself and maybe score a double-double to keep you warm.

Black Bears Split Weekend with Generals

ATTLEBORO, MA– Since the beginning of the second half, the Maryland Black Bears have split every weekend series they’ve had. The tradition continued this weekend, as the Black Bears went up to take on the Northeast Generals, While the other series allowed Maryland to get three of four points up for grabs, the Black Bears dropped Thursday’s affair in regulation, while coming back strong to secure two points on Friday afternoon. 

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 10th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at Northeast (3): Northeast used the early start time to their advantage, jumping out to an 8-2 shot count lead in the early going, not allowing Maryland’s offense to set-up. The flurry of shots resulted in the first goal for the Generals, as Ryan Gordon opened the scoring following up on shots from Evan Orr and Paul Minnehan to pot his 14th of the season. While Maryland did start to get more offensive chances thanks to some power players, they gave up the second goal on a four-on-four, as Ryan Gordon got his second of the game off a give-and-go with Alex Krause after a Maryland giveaway to make it 2-0 Generals. The Black Bears got into some penalty issues, including three straight penalties, but the penalty kill was solid throughout. Michael Morelli made a huge save at the end of the frame to keep the game within reach for Maryland, despite some miscues in the first 20 minutes. 

The offense for the Black Bears started to wake up in the second period, finding a way through the Northeast defense and having plenty of power play time thanks to the Generals getting all four of the penalties called in the frame. However, it wasn’t a power play goal that the Black Bears would cash in on. Off a set play on the face off, Ryan Bottrill took a Brad McNeil face off win and would beat Cullen DeYoung to cut the Generals lead in half. The power play couldn’t get set up properly in the zone for Maryland, leading to plenty of one-and-out chances on the power play. Northeast would increase their lead to two goals late in the frame, as after a breakout play, Ryan Corcoran would notch his eighth of the year after a solid set-up by David Tolan for by getting around the Maryland defense and it was 3-1 Generals. The Black Bears had an extended two-man advantage late in the period, but couldn’t put it past DeYoung and the frame ended with Northeast up two goals. 

Some of the two-man advantage carried over for Maryland, but the Generals PK was solid in holding them to the outside. The Black Bears’ captain, Conor Cole, then got the team to within one with a give-and-go with Vlad Polegoshko and using the backhand to beat DeYoung and make it a 3-2 game. The Black Bears had even more chances on the power play, with Northeast drawing three straight in the frame, but the right shot never came during those man-advantages. The Black Bears had the chance to tie in the dying seconds, as Conor Cole was right outside the crease, but DeYoung got over just in time to make the pad stop, his 42nd of the game, and give Northeast the victory 3-2. 

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 11th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Northeast (2): The Black Bears tried to build off of the sour taste from the previous game, trying to get pucks to Cullen DeYoung and create more chances. Both Dimitry Kebreau and Laker Aldridge picked up in that assignment with a couple of quick chances– though it didn’t lead to a goal. Maryland’s defense had some issues with turnovers in the early going, with Luca Di Pasquo coming up big on a couple turnovers that were created. The end of the frame brought some pleasantries, as both teams converged in the corner, foreshadowing the feistiness to happen in the second period. 

After killing a penalty from the end of the frame, Laker Aldridge does what he does best– score the opening goal for Maryland, this time with a wrap-around to tuck it through DeYoung to open the scoring. After some chippiness, the gloves dropped with Conor Cole going up against Jack DeMoura in a wrestling bout, while minutes later Branden Piku would have a tussle with Evan Orr. Between the fights, Maryland goes up 2-0 on a power play goal, as Aldridge found Jacob Brockman on the right circle to score his 11th of the season with two seconds left in the power play. Penalties plagued the Black Bears again, as the Generals were able to convert on a two-man advantage as Alex Krause hammered home a one-timer to cut the Maryland lead in half. Kebreau would get the two-goal lead back for the Black Bears after Bottrill powered through the Northeast defense, got the puck to Kebreau, who put it in for the 3-1 marker.  With Maryland pressing throughout, they waited until there were six seconds left to make it a three-goal lead, as Ryan Bottrill took an alley-oop pass from Matthew Davies and put it over DeYoung to make it 4-1. 

The goal for Bottrill, coupled with his assists earlier, gave him the single-season points record for the Maryland Black Bears with 48. He surpassed former captain Connor Pooley’s mark of 47 from the inaugural season in 2018-19. 

Knowing they needed some offense, the Generals pressed against the Black Bears hard, not allowing them much time in their offensive zone. They had some looks against Di Pasquo, but it wouldn’t be until there was 3:17 left in the period that Northeast would break through. Ryan Gordon converted on a power play with a laser shot past Di Pasquo to cut the Maryland lead in half, again, but it wouldn’t be enough. Maryland is able to get a split on the weekend and hold second place in the East Division. 

The Black Bears are back home next weekend with another match-up against the New Jersey Titans. Tickets are on sale through Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com or at the Severn Bank Ticket Center before the game.

Crab Pot Tournament 2022 Preview: United States Naval Academy Midshipmen

After a year away, the 44th Annual Crab Pot Tournament is upon us and what better way to go into it than looking at the participants?? This will be a tour of the team and their stats according to the ACHA website– so if anything is inaccurate– go to them about it. We end the previews with the host and defending champions, the US Naval Academy Midshipmen

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

While they are riding an eight-game winning streak, it wasn’t all rosy for Navy to start this season. A host of injuries created plenty of short-bench situations for the Mids as they started the season. That also resulted in a five-game slump through most of November. When they got their wounded back, they were full steam ahead, going undefeated in the six games since semester break, as well as a big win over Army at the American Dream Mall.

A big contributor, especially since semester break, has been Nick Aown. With 11 of his 26 points coming in the last six games, Aown has been critical for the Navy offense down the stretch. John Mullen’s 16 goals leads the way for the Mids, with Michael Rockovich dishing out the helpers with 19 assists. From the point, Brendan Reynolds has been the go-to guy on the power play with five PPGs, while Porter Markel and Joe Walton have chipped in on both sides of the puck. Charles Doherty has been the workhorse in net with a 2.35 GAA and .924 save percentage.

Winners of the last two Crab Pots and 17 overall, the Mids will look to add to their accolades of this season with a three-peat on their road to Nationals, which they secured a spot thanks to winning the ECHA regular season. After Crab Pot, they’ll look to the ECHA Playoffs and then to the ACHA Nationals in St. Louis to hopefully bring home four new pieces of hardware to display at McMullen Ice Arena.

Navy can’t look to far ahead, however, as any given night– the underdog could take the leash. Navy has only played Towson this season out of the four competitors, beating the Tigers in both meetings. They’ll face off against Maryland on Friday night, with the winner moving onto Saturday night’s final.

Crab Pot Tournament 2022 Preview: Towson University Tigers

After a year away, the 44th Annual Crab Pot Tournament is upon us and what better way to go into it than looking at the participants?? This will be a tour of the team and their stats according to the ACHA website– so if anything is inaccurate– go to them about it. This installment features the Towson University Tigers.

File Photo from Towson Tigers Twitter/ @TowsonHockey

After a couple of lean years, the Towson Tigers looked to turn the corner this season, especially in the first part of the season. The Tigers went to Mercyhurst and took two crucial road match-ups against the Lakers, but that’s when things started to wobble a bit. They played tough on the road against Duquesne and a big win over Lehigh in their own arena. November gave Towson some tight wins against George Mason and Villanova, but also some tough losses against Temple and IUP. It wasn’t a bright end of the year, as December through the end of the season, Towson dropped nine of their last ten, the lone win coming against Stevenson.

Justin Brown and Tyler Mercier led the way for the Tigers offensively, with Brown leading in points and assists, while Mercier potted 16 goals on the year to lead the team. Jack Callaghan added some punch on the special teams with four power play goals, while Drew Lustig was crucial on the point with seven assists and 14 points to lead the way defensively. Daniel Ludwig was plenty busy in net, facing an average of 34 shots in his 22 games, while the team overall gave up 5.16 goals per game while only scoring at a 3.26 clip.

A runner-up in the 2020 Crab Pot, the Tigers are no strangers to success at the Crab Pot with six championships– the last coming 2018. They’ve played every team in the tournament, with their lone win against any squad being against their opponent on Friday in Stevenson. It also was their last win of the season thus far, so you have to think that the motivation will be high to get back into the title round and aim for their seventh title.

Though it’s been an odd rotation for this Towson squad they kept hunkering down and facing the challenges that were through at them. Icing on the cake for their difficult season would be another Crab Pot title, but they have a couple more hills to climb before getting to that pinnacle.

Crab Pot Tournament 2022 Preview: University of Maryland Terrapins

After a year away, the 44th Annual Crab Pot Tournament is upon us and what better way to go into it than looking at the participants?? This will be a tour of the team and their stats according to the ACHA website– so if anything is inaccurate– go to them about it. Time to move onto the southern-most team, the University of Maryland Terrapins.

Photo via Maryland Terrapins Hockey Twitter/@TerpsHockey

Coming back with a strong spring in their step, the season had plenty peaks and valleys for themselves. Starting off with two losses, then two wins; three losses, then sweeping their ACCHL showcase match-ups, the Terps looked to finish the first semester strong with an upset victory over a D1 team in Towson, but fell to Penn State right as break hit. Going 2-2-0 in their last games heading into the Crab Pot, the Terps look to build off momentum gains from victories on their senior night and a close defeat to Rider this past weekend.

Graduate forward Liam Eden led the way for this Terps squad with 15 goals and 14 assists, but the pleasant surprise was the play of first-year forward Tucker Healy. With a nine-game point streak at the start of the season, Healy was the main set-up man with 23 assists and tied with Eden in points with 29. But heating up is Patryk Bieganowski who has four goals and an assist in his last three games. In net, Henri Pelletier has had his ebbs and flows to his game, but he has the ability to steal games when called upon. On the blue line, Daniel Tomashevsky and Hunter Airey have popped in five goals a piece, with Tyler McEvoy leading in assists with seven.

Maryland only title win in the Crab Pot was 1992 with an overtime victory against Navy in the old Dahlgren Hall. It took all of 15 seconds for Mike Naidrich to score and make the final 6-5 for the Terps. In that game, the Terps came back from three goals down twice to win in overtime. Sure, it was 30 years ago, but what better time than now to rekindle that magic for this team.

While they swept Stevenson in the first part of the season and taken down Towson right before break, they’ll start off with the defending Crab Pot champs in Navy. The Terps will definitely need to have their top game, but with bragging rights on the line and the motivation of taking down a team going to the D1 Nationals– you can bet that the Terps will put together their best effort of the year and perhaps channel back to the ACCHL Showdown to provide even more motivation.

Crab Pot Tournament 2022 Preview: Stevenson University Mustangs

After a year away, the 44th Annual Crab Pot Tournament is upon us and what better way to go into it than looking at the participants?? This will be a tour of the team and their stats according to the ACHA website– so if anything is inaccurate– go to them about it. We’ll start first with the Stevenson University Mustangs.

File Photo: Stevenson celebrates goal at 2020 Crab Pot Tournament/ Jon Pitonzo, FOHS Media Faction

Things looked promising for the Stevenson University Mustangs program in the off-season, as they had formed a D3 team to compliment the D2 team. Yet, with the times being as they are– those plans had to be altered somewhat, as I mentioned on here when they merged both teams due to roster issues on both sides.

Stevenson had a solid showing their first Crab Pot in 2020, as they played Navy in the opening round and hung with the Midshipmen most of the game, pushing it to overtime before dropping a well-battled game. Things were looking up for the Mustangs, as they had a solid season in the infacy of the program. The interest in the team was blossoming, which led to the formation of the D3 team. But, the pandemic did what pandemics do and cancelled their 2020-21 season with the exception of a few intrasquad Turtle Cup match-ups to keep in shape.

As things got started for the 2021-22 season, the D2 team looked solid with an opening 3-2 win over Georgetown. The D3 squad dropped a couple of tough games to start, including holding their own against Adrian College– one of the nation’s top programs. Then on October 26th, the two teams formed what we have now. Things didn’t go as planned after that, as they went on an 11-game winless streak before beating Millersville University 6-5 on December 5th. They scored another win against a top-notch Rider University team at the end of January.

The Mustangs were led by veteran forwards Brenden Jesse (6g, 6a) and captain Josh Watterson (5g, 5a), who are 1-2 in goals and points on the season. JJ Fecteau and Zac Garneau were clutch when called upon, while Jonah Carlson and Nick Hoover added some physical play from the blue line. There were several options in net, but veteran David Shahady got the bulk of the calls in net and registered two of the three wins for the Green Horses.

Stevenson has played both Maryland and Towson this regular season, dropping both games to the Terps in October and coming up short in the lone game against the D1 Towson squad. They’ll take on Towson in the first game of the tournament on Friday, which could prove to be an interesting sort as both teams play with a chip on their shoulders from the season and wanting to prove themselves on the biggest stage the state has to offer.

Black Bears Takes Three of Four Points from Rebels

ODENTON, MD– After almost two years, the Maryland Black Bears played host to the Jamestown Rebels at the Den in Piney Orchard. While things seemed to go Maryland’s way on Friday, the hockey karma swung the other way with the Black Bears only able to pick up three of four points on the weekend. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 4th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Jamestown (0): Maryland controlled the play for most of the first period, getting plenty of offensive chances from the likes of Tyler Young and Miles Gunty, but Nolan Suggs was able to keep the Black Bears at bay. It wouldn’t hold forever, as Tyler Young broke the ice for the Black Bears, finding the puck in a mass of humanity to net his sixth of the season, even with confusion from everyone in the building and the referees. After discussions with the goal judge, the goal stood and Maryland was up 1-0. The Black Bears did get into some penalty troubles shortly after, with a tripping call in their offensive zone and then at the dying seconds of that penalty, a hook while on the PK. Thanks to their solid penalty killing, Maryland was able to limit Jamestown’s chances and kill both penalties. Maryland took back offensive control, as they picked up where they left off before the penalties; which resulted in another Young goal, taking a Jacob Brockman pass and going forehand to backhand past Suggs with only 13 seconds remaining in the frame. 

The start of the period saw the Black Bears continue to press, looking for that third goa, but Jamestown not only withstood pressure, but returned it; being able to get behind the Black Bears’ defense and create some odd-man rushes. Luckily for Maryland, Luca Di Pasquo was dialed in and made some crucial saves to keep Jamestown shaking their heads. More penalty troubles for Maryland saw the penalty kill and Di Pasquo come up very big in the tests against them. The Black Bears did swing the momentum at the end of the period, which led to Ryan Bottrill getting a penalty shot after he was hauled down. However, Suggs shut off his five-hole and kept the game 2-0 after two periods.

Emotions were high in the third, as the physical play picked up in a big way. Laker Aldridge and Aden Bruich were keyed in on by Jamestown to try and goad some penalties out of them. Aldridge finally had enough with and roughed up John Lundy, resulting in a double minor for Aldridge to Lundy’s lone minor. Recent RIT commit Kevin Scott got into it, too, taking down Jak Vaarwerk in a spirited affair, earning both of them an early shower. The Black Bears tried to put the game out of hand on their lone power play, but Suggs didn’t let anything pass. Desperate, Jamestown threw everything at Di Pasquo, but Luca kept his sheet clean, helping with the Black Bears gaining the 2-0 victory and third shutout of the season for Di Pasquo. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 5th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Jamestown (4) OT: Game two started off much like game one with Maryland dictating the offensive play. Plenty of chances around Jon Howe, including ones from Jacob Brockman and Elliott Lareau, but nothing to show for it. Michael Morelli got the call in net and was solid when tested in the first period. 

The Rebels got off to a better start in the second, holding Maryland in their own defensive zone for the most part in the period, but Morelli and the defense was solid when dealing with their attack, keeping the game scoreless. The Black Bears did get on the board before the mid-point of the period with Jacob Brockman hammering home a Aidan McDowell set-up to give the Black Bears the lead. After that, Maryland kept their foot on the gas with more sustained pressure on the offensive end. That pressure would pay off again as Matthew Davies sent it down to Branden Piku who fired it on net and Jack Blanchett cheated down to put it into an open net and give Maryland the 2-0 lead. Jamestown got a little bit of their jump back, trying to make sure Maryland momentum didn’t get the best of them, leading to James Miller firing a shot that looked to deflect off a Black Bears’ defender and past Morelli to make it 2-1 at the second intermission. 

Jamestown built off their late goal and they were able to tie the game early in the period on a give-and-go between Jak Vaarwerk and John Lundy leading to Vaarwerk’s ninth of the season and a tie game. The Rebels kept their momentum and got some luck with a Maryland defender who lost an edge, the puck being picked up by Vaarwerk, who found Kolby Amici on the one-timer– giving Jamestown the lead. Trying not to let it defeat them, Maryland looked to overcome the bad bounces and get the equalizer. That came as Jesse Horacek found the rebound off a Lareau drive to the net to even the score at three with 8:31 remaining. Morelli made some key saves late, as the game shifted to overtime.

In the overtime frame, Maryland picked up possession first, but couldn’t get much on Howe. Just 1:48 into the extra frame, Vaarwerk picked up the puck, wrapped around the net, and put it past a sprawling Morelli to give Jamestown the extra point and push Maryland to 3-8 in extra time. 

The Black Bears travel to Northeast to take on the Generals in a Thursday and Friday afternoon affairs.