Black Bears Take Three of Four Points in Final Road Weekend of Season

MIDDLETOWN, NJ– With playoffs looming in the distance, the Maryland Black Bears went to New Jersey to face the Titans for the last time in the regular season. Knowing they needed every point they could muster, the Black Bears went toe-to-toe, blow-for-blow against the East Division champs and were able to get three out of a possible four points to help them on their way to clinch another playoff berth. 

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FRIDAY, APRIL 8th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at New Jersey (1): Maryland came off the draw strong, gaining possession from puck drop and keeping it on their stick– however, they couldn’t muster a shot within the first eight minutes of play despite the possession advantage. After a Maryland penalty expired, New Jersey struck as Chris Carroll tried to center a pass in front, but it went off a skate in front and Caroll picked up the redirect and put it near-side on Luca Di Pasquo to give the Titans the early lead. The Black Bears got a power play of their own, which saw some chances, but was able to build momentum to their first goal. Conor Cole’s forecheck disrupted Andrew Takacs trying to play the puck and Cole found Adam Schankula in front for the tap-in and a tied game. New Jersey was able to get their offense back in it after the goal, but Di Pasquo was solid in the face of all the shots, including a big windmill save on a 2-on-1 break for New Jersey. Maryland added their chances late in the frame, but Takacs was strong, as well, keeping the game knotted at one after 20 minutes. 

Maryland got the lead early in the second after they won a board battle and got it to the point where Jack Blanchett hammered home his 11th of the season for the quick start in the period. Maryland got a two-goal lead minutes later, as the Black Bears caused another turnover from Takacs handling the puck and ended with Elliott Lareau putting it home for the 3-1 lead. That would be the end of Takacs, who had two giveaways lead to goals. The Black Bears would continue to pressure the Titans net, but Ben Charette came in focused and kept the game at 3-1, settling down his team through the middle portion of the second. While both sides have had time in their zones, nothing went further and the period ended 3-1 for the Black Bears. 

Knowing they could expect New Jersey’s best, the Black Bears build off the attack they had in the second, not only offensively, but clogging up passing lanes and in the neutral zone to keep the Titans’ attack at bay. The Black Bears extended the lead on the power play, as Aidan McDowell crept in from the point and Cole found him streaking in and popped it home to make it 4-1. Maryland’s defense was crucial for the third period, not allowing the Titans to gain the zone or get much zone time, limiting them to only three shots in the period. The Black Bears did have their chances, but Charette was able to stop the bleeding and keep it a 4-1 game, which turned out to be the final for Friday night. 

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SATURDAY, APRIL 9th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) at New Jersey (2) SO: With the regular season title in the balance, the Titans came out quick to avenge their loss and win the regular season in the league. In only 2:29, Nick Ring opened the scoring with a wrister over the shoulder of Luca Di Pasquo for the early Titans’ lead. The physical play was very present in this one, as they met for the last time in the regular season, both sides doled out solid hits throughout the period. The Black Bears did seem to find a bit of a crack in the New Jersey defensively, creating small breaks for themselves, but Andrew Takacs was solid in those chances to keep the Titans up 1-0 after 20 minutes. 

It was a tale of two halves for the second period, with New Jersey controlling the possession aspect of game early going, getting plenty of chances, but Di Pasquo and the defense stood tall to keep the Titans off the scoresheet. Maryland then started to take over in the second-half of the period, putting plenty of pressure on Takacs and trying to rile him up, but to no avail, as the Titans’ goalie and their squad kept their heads and kept the sheet clean after two periods. 

An early power play for the Black Bears pay off handsomely, as they tied the game thanks to Brad McNeil picking up a rebound in front off an odd bounce from a Miles Gunty shot and McNeil put it into an open cage for the tying goal. The Titans did get awoken by that goal, starting to get more offensive chances and sustained pressure on Di Pasquo, but couldn’t solve the right-handed catch keeper. On the other side, some solid chances from Maryland to get the go-ahead goal, including a Conor Cole breakaway; however, he was stymied by Takacs. Try as both sides might, this one goes into extra time with the Black Bears picking up a crucial point in the standings. 

In the possession filled overtime, the best chance from either side was a pass out to Jack Blanchett that just rolled off his stick as he was about to shoot and yielded nothing. In the shootout, Ryan Coughlin scored for New Jersey, only to be answered by Cole. In the extra round, Anthony Calafiore squeaked his shot under the pad of Di Pasquo to win the game for New Jersey. 

Maryland ends their regular season with a match-up at home with the Jamestown Rebels for a Thursday late-afternoon and Friday lunchtime start. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com through the Severn Bank Ticket Center.

Black Bears Swept in Jamestown

JAMESTOWN, NY– After a heartbreaking loss last Saturday, the Maryland Black Bears travelled to Jamestown, New York to take on the Rebels looking points to help their own playoff chances and separate themselves from the cluttered pack in the East Division. Unfortunately, the Rebels came in on a hot streak and ended the weekend on a hot streak as they swept Maryland, only allowing two goals against all weekend. 

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FRIDAY, APRIL 1st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) at Jamestown (4): The start for Maryland was solid, as they got out of the gate strong and led to a goal within the first two minutes. In a rush, Adam Schankula found Ryan Bottrill who beat Noah Suggs for his 17th of the season to give the Black Bears an early lead. Trying to capitalize, Maryland would give themselves several chances in the early going, to no avail. However, the penalties would start to come for the Black Bears, as a too-many-men call led the Jamestown tying the game up off a Reid Lune shot that got deflected in front and beat Luca Di Pasquo. Moments later, a boarding call would lead to James Miller skating across the point and ripping one home to give the Rebels the lead. Stymied in the neutral zone, the Black Bears did all they could to get some offense going, with Bottrill getting free for another chance that tipped off the glove of Suggs and wide. With less than a second remaining, the Rebels would go up 3-1 as Joseph Calvarino was a trailer on a 3-on-2 and put it behind Di Pasquo and give Jamestown a two-goal lead at the intermission. 

By and large, the Rebels commanded the second period. Whether it be sustaining pressure in the offensive zone or clogging up the neutral zone, the Rebels were able to have a majority of the puck possession in the frame. It didn’t hurt they had two power plays, but the Maryland penalty kill was able to hold Jamestown at bay. The Black Bears couldn’t much pressure offensively, usually have one opportunity at a shot and then having to chase the puck as it went the other way. A couple of solid chances with one being Dimitry Kebreau trying to fool Suggs with a sly cut-across move, a second was catching Jamestown in a line change, but not being able to cash in thanks to a sprawling defenseman knocking the net off the pegs on a backcheck. The score remained 3-1 after 40 minutes. 

The Black Bears were able to pick up their offensive prowess a bit, control the puck a ton more in the final stanza. While they couldn’t connect on the power plays they were afforded, they were able to build up some momentum. That said, Suggs was solid in his positioning and the Rebels defense was able to clog up the lanes to not let much get through. Even with all the pressure, Maryland couldn’t find the back of the net and Lucas Klemm’s empty netter made the final 4-1 for the Rebels. 

SATURDAY, APRIL 2nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) at Jamestown (5): A tamer first period in comparison, as the Black Bears and Rebels didn’t go out firing as much as they did in Friday’s affair. The Rebels took advantage in the first half of the frame, causing Maryland to turn the puck over; but Michael Morelli was sharp, making solid stops and corralling the rebounds. The Black Bears had some issues with breakout passes, as they had many icing calls due to those passes missing the mark. They did, however, has some chances in the latter half of the frame, with Tyler Young and Miles Gunty getting quality shots on goal, but Nolan Suggs stood tall in his crease to keep the game scoreless after 20 minutes. 

The Black Bears kept the pressure on to start the second thanks to a strong forecheck, but still couldn’t break through. It would be the Rebels that broke through first with a turnover in the neutral zone leading to Reid Lune getting his second goal in as many nights, ripping it from the top of the circle that got behind Morelli. While Maryland was able to have a solid shift after the first goal, they couldn’t figure out how to get it past Suggs. Lune would strike again, as the Black Bears were unable to get the puck out of their zone, allowing Owen West to find Lune in the slot to make it a 2-0 game. Maryland got themselves into some penalty troubles late in the frame, but as they killed off one penalty, they received another. That second one proved costly, as on a failed clearing attempt by the Black Bears; Josh Burke found John Lundy for a one-timer to make it 3-0 late in the second, which is where the score would be at the end of the frame. 

Again, Maryland was able to get some offense going to start the period, including chances on a power play, but couldn’t cash in. After the penalty was killed, Lune got his hat trick after he picked up a puck that was loose off a Jak Vaarwerk shot and made it 4-0. Frustration boiled over for the Black Bears, as Ryan Bottrill speared Vaarwerk and got a five-minute major and game misconduct for his troubles. Maryland had some chances shorthanded to try and get back into it, but during possession in their zone, Lundy ripped another shot from the top of the circle to make it 5-0. Never giving up, the Black Bears pressed on, finally breaking through late in the frame with Matthew Davies coming in from the point to beat Suggs and break the shutout. Despite buzzing after the goal, the Black Bears could not find four goals in the last 4:38, leading to a 5-1 defeat. 

It doesn’t get easier for Maryland, as they travel back to Middletown to take on the East Division regular season champion New Jersey Titans Friday and Saturday.

Two Thrilling Games Gives Maryland Three Points in Maine

LEWISTON, ME– In the last meeting between the Maryland Black Bears and the Maine Nordiques, both sides created very exciting hockey, with barely a dull moment to be had. With both games going to the shootout, Maryland was able to take three of four points on the weekend for much needed points on the weekend– winning Friday and dropping a heartbreaker Saturday. 

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FRIDAY, MARCH 25th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (6) at Maine (5) SO: A quick start by both sides to kick off the series, as each side used turnovers to their advantage and used a transition game to create chances. Maine was able to strike first after a transition, with Patrick Schmiedlin taking a cross-zone pass from Aidan Connolly to beat a sprawling Michael Morelli and give the Nordiques the early lead. Penalty trouble struck Maryland not long after, as that boogeyman came back to haunt the Black Bears. While the penalty kill was able to get a couple of clears, the Nordiques used their transition game again to catch Maryland flat-footed allowing Schmiedlin to come through the slot and get a pass to put behind Morelli for the 2-0 league. The Black Bears responded moments later, putting pressure on Gus Holt which ended with Adam Schankula potting his first NAHL goal off a rebound at the side of the net to cut the lead in half. While Maryland looked to pick up momentum, the Black Bears had another penalty called against them and Maine made little time as Brendan Gibbons tipped home a Nick Bernardo point shot to put Maine up 3-1. Undaunted, the Black Bears fought back, creating more chances, including a Branden Piku backhand chance, but couldn’t find the back of the net. Maryland got one to fall as Leo Schwartz got his first NAHL goal with a great shot from the point to cut it to a one-goal game again. Maryland was able to draw a penalty and made short work of their power play with Aidan McDowell hammering a shot home only nine seconds into the power play to tie the game going into the first intermission. 

Maryland got out of the gates early in the second, creating plenty of chances in front– but blocks and stops stymied them for a time. They would break through with Ryan Bottrill never giving up the puck in the neutral zone and finding Elliott Lareau in the slot to give the Black Bears the 4-3 lead. The Black Bears continued to press with Bottrill all over the puck, creating chances, and keeping possession for the Black Bears. Bottrill and Connor Bennett would have solid chances, but could not beat Holt. Just after a media timeout, Maine would tie it up after Maryland turnover at their blue line led to a break and ended with Jonny Meiers finding the loose puck and putting it through a mass of humanity in front to even up the game. The Black Bears took back the offensive prowess, using their forecheck to their advantage in the second frame, which created plenty of space and led to Bottrill winning a board battle and ripped one home over Holt’s shoulder and regaining the Maryland lead.  The penalty kill was tested at the end of the frame with a high sticking double-minor and thanks to some big saves from Morelli and timely blocks leading to clearing the pucks out of the zone, Maryland kept the lead at the end of the frame. 

Maine looked to even the score again in the early part of the third, but Maryland penalty kill was able to kill the rest of the penalty and Morelli made a huge save on a minor breakaway to maintain the Black Bears’ lead. While Morelli was able to make a couple more big saves, the Nordiques’ pressure was too much and Gibbons was able to redirect a Zion Green shot to tie the game up again. Maine continued to pressure, but Morelli was huge with two big saves. At the other end, Holt was not to be outdone with a big save on Schankula  on a breakaway. Brad McNeil got in on the action, as Morelli was down and out, but McNeil played goalie to keep the game tied and pushed it to overtime. 

In the overtime, both Maine and Maryland took their chances until a boarding call on Maryland gave Maine’s power play a chance to win it. Morelli and the penalty kill stayed strong and kept the puck out of the net to move to a shootout. Maryland started the shootout with Jack Blanchett potting home the first goal. Maine tied it up with their second shooter Reese Farrell, but it took until extra shooters for Conor Cole to tuck it passed Holt and Morelli with a big pokecheck on Gibbons to give Maryland the crucial two points on Friday. 

SATURDAY, MARCH 26th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at Maine (3) SO: The physical play was on display early for both sides, as the hits were coming from both sides of the ice. While both sides created some offensive chances, neither were able to find the net early in the frame. It wasn’t until the middle of the period when Miles Gunty tipped a Conor Cole shot in front off the face off to give the Black Bears the early lead. Maryland got a power play right after the goal, but it was Maine who created a top chance shorthanded thanks to some miscommunication, but Luca Di Pasquo was able to keep that chance at bay to keep Maryland up in the first period. 

Maine took the role of aggressor offensively in the second period, creating plenty of chances and really keeping the play in their zone. Even with a power play, they were able to get pucks on Di Pasquo, but couldn’t get it by him. Even a shot from the side of the net that looked to go in was batted away by Trayce Johnson to keep the 1-0 Maryland lead. Pressure would pay off for the Nordiques after the midway point, as a Maryland turnover turned into a couple of chances for Maine and resulted in the first NAHL goal for Seth Murch, who ripped it off the post and in to tie it up. Moments later, another Maryland turnover due to a solid Maine forecheck created a goal after Caden Pattison found the loose puck in front and put it home to put the Nordiques up 2-1. Maryland was able to knot the game back up after a transition through the neutral zone resulted in a bit of a broken play, but Conor Cole was able to pick up the loose puck in front and put it home. Maine’s forecheck was still causing Maryland problems, as they looked to take the lead before period’s end, but Maryland was able to make up for the turnovers quickly, withstand pressure, and draw a late power play. However, they were unable to cash in, going into the locker room tied. 

The Black Bears started to counter the Maine forecheck, able to get the puck out of the zone and create some chances for themselves in the early part of the frame. A couple prime chances for Maryland missed everything and hit the window, while a couple were deflections in front. Maine adjusted as needed and pressured Maryland more to create bad passes from the Black Bears, but Di Pasquo and the defense were able to recover. It became a neutral zone battle for the latter part of the third, Maine and Maryland switching off chances, but neither finding the back of the net. 

An early penalty on Maine gave Maryland a power play and it appeared they almost ended it on what could have been Cole’s second of the game. However, a goalie interference from Adam Schankula made the officiating crew discuss and call it a no-goal, making the Black Bears come back on the ice after they had left for the locker room. Neither team could score after that, pushing it to a second straight shootout. In that, Jonny Meiers of Maine scored the only goal and Maine took the extra point and a split of the weekend. 

In Need of Points, Black Bears Swept in New Jersey

MIDDLETOWN, NJ– After a heartbreaking weekend last week, the Maryland Black Bears looked to get back into the win column with a tilt against the division leading New Jersey Titans. While Friday night looked promising for the first half of the game; the weekend only yielded a single point, as Maryland was swept by New Jersey. 

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FRIDAY, MARCH 18th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at New Jersey (4) OT: An inauspicious start to the game, as New Jersey gets offensive right off the hop. A 2-on-1 developed between Chriss Carroll and Levante Keresztes, and while Luca Di Pasquo stopped the initial rush, Anthony Califiore followed up and put the rebound home to give New Jersey the 1-0 lead only 56 seconds into the frame. The Black Bears woke from their slumber, as they created more chances the other way from the likes of Aden Bruich and Laker Aldridge, but Ben Charette was equal to the task. Right after the media timeout, Maryland won the corner battle and Tyler Young skated into the slot off the bench in time for a Elliott Lareau pass to reach him and Young buried it for his 11th of the season to tie the game. New Jersey tried to get their lead back, but Di Pasquo and the defense were strong and kept chances to a minimum. Late in the frame, the Black Bears got their first power play and made short work of it with Tyler Young coming off the half-wall and into the slot to wire home his second of the game and give the Black Bears the 2-1 lead right before intermission. 

Another hot start for the Titans, as they got a couple of quick chances on Di Pasquo, but weren’t able to beat him. Conversely, the Black Bears shifted the ice their direction moments later, but Charette was strong to keep it a one goal game. Maryland was afforded another power play just before the halfway mark, and Tyler Young finished off his hat trick with a tap-in in front of the net and put the Black Bears up 3-1. It was the sixth hat trick in Black Bears’ history and first since Vlad Polegoshko’s hat trick in the NAHL Showcase in September. After the goal, the Black Bears took two penalties into the period, which is something they’ve had issues with doing throughout the past few weeks. Luckily for Maryland, the penalty kill was strong enough to hold the Titans at bay and keep the two-goal lead into the intermission. 

More penalties hampered the Black Bears to start the frame and affected the scoreboard, as Michael Young found a loose puck at the side of the net just after the penalty expired to put the Titans to within one. The Titans kept pressuring the Black Bears, leaving very little options for Maryland to create any offense. Di Pasquo did what he could, getting peppered in net, making a big windmill save; but the inability to create a transition game proved to be costly. With the goalie pulled, Brendan Dumas hammered a puck from the top of the circle, it  was deflected in front by a Maryland stick, and tied the game with 1:02 remaining in regulation. A late push by Maryland didn’t get the go-ahead goal and the Black Bears head to overtime for a second straight game. 

The overtime almost ended early, as Tyler Young had a chance 18 seconds in, but couldn’t bury past Charette. The Black Bears held heavy pressure in the offensive zone after only mustering one shot in the third period. Unfortunately, the Titans took a rush the other way, Chris Carroll circled around the net to create room for Keresztes, who fired it into the open net to complete the comeback and give New Jersey the 4-3 victory after three unanswered goals to end it. 

SATURDAY, MARCH 19th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) at New Jersey(6): New Jersey got right on the Black Bears to start the game off, jumping out to a 6-0 shot lead before Maryland was able to get any kind of puck possession. Discipline was a factor for Maryland in this game as well, starting with a hooking call that led to Michael Young’s power play goal, where Young  picked up the rebound off a Ryan Coughlin shot to open the scoring for the Titans. Maryland had an extended power play, which included a short two-man advantage, but could not get one past Andrew Takacs. New Jersey got on the board once again on the power play, as a backhand by Anthony Califiore eluded Luca Di Pasquo and made it 2-0 Titans. The offense for Maryland was struggling, as they were only able to muster one shot at even strength and had three penalties in the first period. 

With a carry-over double-minor power play, the Black Bears tried to start working on a comeback, but they only were able to get two shots on that four-minute extra man, not able to maintain much possession in their own zone. The offense tried to get something going, finally getting shots towards Takacs, but  unable to get behind him. Close to the midway point, the Titans made it a 3-0 with Coughlin grabbing the puck off of multiple rebounds and front and tucking it into the cage. On a power play of their own, the Black Bears had a glorious chance with Branden Piku coming across the crease, but Takacs stuck the left pad out to deny him of the goal. With only 5:15 left in the frame, New Jersey made it 4-0 with Rocco Testa-Basi finding Brendan Dumas, who wired it home past Di Pasquo. Tyler Young tried to spark something for the Black Bears, getting into a scuffle with David Posma, but Young got an extra two for roughing to put the Black Bears on the penalty kill for a fifth time. After that was killed and with only four seconds remaining, a slashing call put the Black Bears shorthanded again and had it carry over into the third period. 

New Jersey struck with that carryover, as Coughlin got his second goal of the game just sitting at the side of the net and shovelled in a Billy Feczko pass to make it 5-0. Minutes later, the Black Bears were able to break the shutout with Brad McNeil capitalizing on a sloppy turnover by the Titans and putting it through Takacs. Maryland tried to build off that goal, pressure the defense of New Jersey to get some turnovers in the zone, but they couldn’t find another goal in those sequences. Things went from bad to worse, as Laker Aldridge got a five-minute major and game misconduct after hitting Testa-Basi in the head along the boards. New Jersey took a penalty during that to make it 4-on-4, the another Maryland penalty made it 4-on-3, then 5-on-3 where Young got his second of the night after a cross ice pass from Posma and Young made no mistake to make it 6-1. That’s how the game would end, as the Black Bears drop a crucial game and only get one of four points on the weekend.

As they fight for their playoff lives, the Black Bears head to Maine next weekend where they’ll take on the Nordiques for the last time this season in a rematch of last year’s East Division Final.

Black Bears Heartbreakingly Swept in Two One-Goal Games

ODENTON, MD– Knowing there is pressure coming in the standings, the Maryland Black Bears looked to get back on track this weekend against the Jamestown Rebels. With only four wins in their last ten coming into the series, Maryland had to figure out their slump quickly as we enter the last few weeks of the season. Unfortunately for Maryland, clutch goaltending and last-second scoring by Jamestown stymied their weekend, as the Black Bears were swept this past weekend in some close contests. 

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FRIDAY, MARCH 11th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. Jamestown (2): For their last home weekend for a month, the Black Bears wanted to get out to a hot start and set a tone. Jamestown kept the game in the neutral zone for the most part. There were a couple of chances for Maryland off the stick of Tyler Young, but Nolan Suggs was able to keep the scoreboard at zero. Though Maryland did have a couple penalties, the penalty kill did their duty, while also getting a couple of chances offensively for themselves. Luca Di Pasquo looked sharp early, making a post-to-post save later in the first period to keep the game scoreless. 

Maryland did get the quick start they wanted in the second period, as Tyler Young tapped in a rebound off a Connor Bennett wrap-around attempt to get the fish-flying and put the Black Bears on the board. Jamestown did fight back, starting to tilt the ice their way, but the Maryland defense was able to keep threats to a minimum and make Di Pasquo’s job easier. Jamestown continued their pressure, drawing a penalty off a Bennett double-minor for high sticking and the penalty kill did their job for the most part, until the end of the penalty when Luke de Vries fired a shot off the face-off as the penalty was expiring and hit a Maryland body in front and passed Di Pasquo to tie the game late in the frame. On the next shift, the Black Bears tried to get the lead back on a wonderful Jacob Brockman backhand, but Suggs stopped him to keep it tied into intermission. 

Despite a quick start to the third period, the Black Bears couldn’t get many big threats onto Suggs. Their puck possession was solid, but Jamestown would be the one to break the tie as Lucas Klemm took a drop pass at the top of the circle and fired it through a crowd to give the Rebels the lead. Maryland continued the possession chances, but couldn’t find the equalizer, despite good chances from Dimitry Kebreau down low and some looks on a late power play. A last-ditch effort with the goalie pulled didn’t yield a goal and Jamestown eeks out a 2-1 win. 

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SATURDAY, MARCH 12th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Jamestown (3) SO: The first frame saw the Rebels get most of the offensive chances, but Michael Morelli played solid between the pipes and held the Rebels scoreless in the first frame. Maryland had their chances at the other end, but not as many as they mustered in Friday’s game; which allowed Nolan Suggs to hold a clean sheet at the other end for the first 20 minutes. 

Maryland got into some penalty troubles to end the first period that carried over into the second period. Just like in Friday’s game, as the penalty was ending; the Rebels scored on a tic-tac-toe play that resulted in Ethan Janda’s seventh of the year to help Jamestown break the ice. Maryland had more offensive chances in the second period, starting to carry the pace after the Janda goal, but couldn’t beat Suggs. Chances from all around couldn’t find the back of the net until there was 4:31 left in the period and Vlad Polegoshko picked up a Jesse Horacek rebound in the slot and put it home for his sixth of the year to tie the game going into the second intermission. 

Going into the third tied at one, Maryland tried to build off the momentum from the Polegoshko goal. However, the Rebels had other plans by holding Maryland to the outside, getting into lanes, while also not allowing Maryland to get many rebounds. Jamestown counterattacked off a turnover in the neutral zone, but Morelli came up big to keep the score knotted at one. It took until late in the game on an abbreviated power play where the Black Bears took the lead from an unlikely source, with Aidan McDowell hammering home his first goal of the year to put the Black Bears up with 1:17 to play. Yet, just as the Black Bears were about to celebrate a home win, Owen West got a near impossible pass from Ryan Waltman and put home the game-tying goal with 0.5 left on the clock to send it into overtime. 

Though both teams held possession equally in the overtime, their lone shots did not go in and it went to a shootout. In the shootout, Jak Vaarwerk scored the only goal and Suggs shut the door to give the Rebels both points. Maryland dropped their third straight in heartbreaking fashion and now go on the road for the next month. It doesn’t get easier for the Black Bears, as they start the road trip against the first place New Jersey Titans next week, a team riding a three-game winning streak and having won nine of their last ten games.

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. 

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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.