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. 

Black Bears Split Weekend to End Marathon Week

ODENTON, MD– In finishing their five games in eight days stretch, the Maryland Black Bears welcomed their rival from Western PA, the Johnstown Tomahawks, to The Den. These games were not without their drama, including a heartbreaker on Saturday night– but allowing the Black Bears to chalk up three out of a possible four points on the weekend. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY JANUARY 28th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Johnstown (1): Donning their Military Appreciation jerseys, the Black Bears looked sharped aesthetically and looked determined mentally in order to shake off the bad vibes from Tuesday night. The game was also a celebration of Aidan McDowell’s 100th game as a Black Bear (99 regular season and one playoff), which is following his commitment to Stevenson University. 

While the first period was a bit of a feeling out period between the two, the Black Bears finally got on the board first, as Ryan Bottrill was left alone in front and took a Branden Piku pass and put it behind Johnstown’s Matthew O’Donnell to make it 1-0 late in the first period. On the other end, Luca Di Pasquo was sharp for the Black Bears, stopping all 17 of the Tomahawks’ shots in the frame. 

Maryland picked up the physical game with several big hits on Johnstown to start to assert themselves, while also using it to help their turnover numbers and transition those to odd-man rushes in the Johnstown end. The offense even came from the penalty kill, with a Jacob Brockman breakaway getting denied, but then leading to a Johnstown breakaway which Di Pasquo handled easily. Di Pasquo also fended off a wide-open chance from Johnstown’s leading scorer, Jake Black, to keep his slate clean. The Black Bears finally struck on their own power play, as Conor Cole found the puck off a Brockman shot and put it past O’Donnell to make it 2-0. It only took another 1:47 for Maryland to strike again, this time Elliott Lareau crossing the blue line and ripping a wrist shot past O’Donnell to make it 3-0. Trying to get one back on the power play, Johnstown finally broke the shutout with Zach Murray wired a shot from the circle past Di Pasquo to go into the locker room only down two goals. 

Trying not to have a repeat of Tuesday, the Black Bears had to withstand a massive attack from the Tomahawks, while not getting much offense of their own in the third stanza. Goaltending and defense were huge for Maryland in the third, having to deal with 17 shots on goal, again, in the last frame. Maryland kept plugging away, getting some solid zone time thanks to Jack Blanchett’s ability to keep the zone at the point and use it to kill some time off the clock. With only a second left, Brockman seals the deal into the empty net to give Maryland the 4-1 victory. Di Pasquo made 43 saves in the win, with Piku registering three assists on the night. 

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY JANUARY 29th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. Johnstown (2) OT: The first period was a back and forth affair, as Johnstown and Maryland traded chances throughout the period. Both Matt O’Donnell and Luca Di Pasquo came up big for their teams to keep it scoreless. Maryland did get into some penalty trouble, which activated the Johnstown power play– but the PK and Di Pasquo did their jobs to keep the puck out of the net. 

The rough stuff made an appearance in the second period, as both teams were getting their licks in, including Brad McNeil getting his lid knocked off and he got the penalty, as well as Aden Bruich using his size to let the Tomahawks know he’s there. However, Johnstown was buzzing towards the end of the frame, which turned into Egan Schmidt getting the opening goal with 5:41 left as he picked it up around the net and fired it past Di Pasquo for the 1-0 scoreline. Maryland tried to counter back on a late power play, but could not sneak one past O’Donnell through 40 minutes. 

Maryland knew they had to press against the tight Johnstown defense in order to get the equalizer, but two penalties against them deadened the momentum a little bit. Luckily, the penalty kill was solid again, while also creating chances on the other end. The Black Bears also caught a break with a puck that appeared to go in– even having the goal judge light the lamp– but the referees determined otherwise, keeping the game at 1-0. Maryland would finally break through as Brad McNeil tipped Leo Schwartz’s shot to tie up the game halfway through the third period. Plenty of neutral zone play happened, as neither defense wanted to give up an inch late in the frame. Because of that, everyone got a point and the game went to overtime. 

In the overtime, more back and forth play and neither team held possession for too long, totaling nine shots for the five minutes of action. It wasn’t until the very last season– literally– when Johnstown’s Jake Black got his 24th goal of the season, throwing a shot at the net as time ran out and beat Di Pasquo for the game winner. Maryland takes three out of four points on the weekend, as they end their five games in eight days stretch with six of ten points. 

The Black Bears stay at home next week as Jamestown comes into town. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com through the Severn Bank Ticket Center.

Four Unanswered From New Jersey Down the Black Bears 6-5

MIDDLETOWN, NJ– In a rare midweek match-up, the Maryland Black Bears travelled up to Middletown, New Jersey to visit the New Jersey Titans on Tuesday night in a match-up of the top-two teams in the East Division. In the sixth match-up between the two, New Jersey scored four unanswered goals, three of them in the third, to beat the Black Bears 6-5

File Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

TUESDAY JANUARY 25th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) at New Jersey (6): Renewing their pleasantries, the Black Bears and Titans had a feeling out time between each other with Michael Morelli and Andrew Takacs being tested early, but making key saves to start. Even with chances, there was a little rough stuff, as Aden Bruich and Tyler Sanborn got into a scuffle that got them a five-and-ten penalty. Maryland were the first to strike, with Jack Blanchett able to find some time and space pinching in on the rush to get his seventh of the season and give the Black Bears an early lead. New Jersey took that as their wake-up call, as they started to press offensively thanks to a power play. They would finally break through with a solid passing play in transition that ended with Brendan Dumas putting home his 15th of the year to tie the game. Maryland did get some shake-ups as both Ryan Bottrill and Laker Aldridge got taken down and both missed some time– Aldridge getting the worst of it after a hard hit against the boards, which drew a penalty. On the ensuing power play, Jacob Brockman cashed in after a great set-up by Kevin Scott on a one-timer to make it 2-1. Moments later, Miles Gunty made it 3-1 after a frantic shooting gallery in front ended with Gunty picking up the loose puck and putting it behind Takacs. 

New Jersey got things going quickly thanks to a carryover penalty and quick passing off their sticks, with Anthony Calafiore finishing a tic-tac-toe passing effort to cut Maryland’s lead to just one. Maryland got the two-goal lead back off a turnover in the neutral zone to get a three-on-one into the Titans zone that saw Branden Piku finish off the Black Bears tic-tac-toe effort from Bruich and Bottrill. Just 11 seconds later, Tyler Young picked off a passing attempt by New Jersey and took it in alone, beating Takacs to make it 5-2. Maryland kept pressing and getting plenty of chances to extend the lead, but Takacs was sure to not let up the next goal. After the midway point of the frame, the Titans got a goal back on a transition breakout with Blake Farrell getting the rebound from a Tommy Bannister shot that  cut the Maryland lead to two. While New Jersey pressed hard to get another goal before period’s end, Morelli and the defense kept chances to a minimum and kept the game at 5-3 into the second intermission. 

Trying to hold things off, Maryland withstood some solid chances by the Titans, leading to some big saves from Morelli early in the period. However, a Maryland penalty led to a New Jersey power play goal thanks to a backdoor pass from Dumas to Calafiore to make it a one-goal game. Another costly penalty on Maryland resulted in another New Jersey power play goal, as Chris Carroll deflected a Dumas shot to tie the game at 5s. Maryland was able to wake-up offensively, starting to break the defensive scheme by New Jersey and getting some things towards the net, but it didn’t yield much for scoring. New Jersey battled late and were able to come all the way back after a turnover in the defensive zone led to Calafiore finishing off his hat trick to make it a 6-5 game. While Maryland pulled Morelli late and had some chances, they couldn’t find the equalizer and drop a heartbreaker of a game 6-5. 

The Black Bears will need a short memory of this, as the Johnstown Tomahawks come to town on Friday and Saturday with tickets for the game available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com from the Severn Bank Ticket Center. 

Black Bears Take Three Points in Jamestown to Start Wild Week

JAMESTOWN, NY– To start off one of their busiest stretches, the Maryland Black Bears went to Jamestown to take on the Rebels. After a sweep earlier this season, the Black Bears and Rebels faced off in a spirited match-up Friday, with Maryland taking control on Saturday– leading to a three-point weekend for the Black Bears with a loss in extra time and win on the weekend. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY JANUARY 21st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Jamestown (4) SO: The Black Bears got a small jump to start, trying to shake off the bus legs on the travel to Northwest New York. However, the Rebels would be the first to get on the board as John Lundy tipped a Peter Klemm shot over the shoulder of Luca Di Pasquo for the quick lead. Maryland then got sucked into penalty troubles, as they had four minors called on them in the 1st period alone. While the penalty kill did yield an Elliott Lareau chance, it gave up a goal not long after as the Rebels stretched the ice and ended with Lundy getting his second goal of the game to make it 2-0 heading into the intermission. 

A feisty second period to start, as there were two fights in the first 5:09 in the frame. First, Tyler Young took on Roux Bazin and got the decision; while Brad McNeil then took on Mitch Lafay and landed a big right to get the decision there. Maryland was able to get some kind of spark off of that, as they were able to get some chances in on the Jamestown goal before they broke through midway through. Laker Aldridge got a rebound off the end-boards from a Matthew Davies shot and put it past Jon Howe to get Maryland on the board. While Maryland continued to press, Jamestown’s defense was able to hold the Black Bears out of the danger areas and frustrated the Black Bears a bit. However, a late penalty from Maryland yielded another power play goal with Jak Vaarwerk finding a loose puck that squeaked through Di Pasquo and led to a tap-in and 3-1 Rebels’ lead into the second intermission. 

Most of the third period was Jamestown and Maryland keeping each other at bay with plenty of board play and tight checking. Maryland had another big chance shorthanded with Aden Bruich, but he hit the post after beating Howe. The Rebels defense continued to give Maryland fit, but with 2:30 remaining, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo and it gave some results. First, McNeil was able to notch his first goal since October 8th (21 games) by tracking the loose puck to pull the Black Bears within one. After getting the puck in the Jamestown zone, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo again, the Black Bears were looking for the equalizer and almost got it from McNeil, but he couldn’t beat the post. However, after a great, jumping keep by Jack Blanchett at the blue line, Lareau was able to find the puck in the slot and score from his knees to tie the game with 11.9 seconds left and give the Black Bears a point. 

While overtime had a couple of good chances from both sides, it didn’t figure in the decision leading to a shootout. Branden Piku and Ryan Bottril couldn’t convert while Vaarwerk and Nolan Grier were able to, giving Jamestown the extra point and the win. Though the comeback came up short, Maryland had plenty of momentum going into Saturday night’s rematch. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY JANUARY 22nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Jamestown (1): While the first part of the period was a bit of a 50/50 match-up, the Black Bears did seem to have more fight in them than Jamestown. Maryland was sparked by some early saves by Michael Morelli in the first, keeping it scoreless to start the game. After the midway point, the Black Bears took over, first with Aden Bruich streaking down the wing, powering towards the net, and putting it over the near shoulder of Jon Howe to get first blood. Maryland kept the pressure on, building off their goal, giving Jamestown fits. It would yield another goal, as Branden Piku put home his 16th of the year off a fantastic pass by Ryan Bottrill, as Bottrill drew the defense, giving Piku more time and space. Only 32 seconds later, Brad McNeil was able to pot his second goal in as many nights, putting home his own rebound after another power move by Bruich to draw some attention. It would be the end of Howe’s night just before the intermission. 

The pressure kept on from Maryland at the start of the second, with plenty of shots on new goalie Nolan Suggs. They would break through Suggs, as on a delayed call, Piku got his second of the game, picking up a loose puck at the side of the net to make it 4-0 for the Black Bears. While Maryland kept their motor going, penalties crept back in for the Black Bears, as a two back-to-back penalties against– including a four-minute high sticking call– forced them to an extended two-man disadvantage; but they were able to hold off the Rebels attack, keeping them to the outside and not letting and top chances get to Morelli. End of the frame ended with Maryland up 4-0. 

Jamestown came out on all cylinders in the third, putting Maryland on their heels a bit and drawing some penalties against Maryland. Even with that, the PK and Morelli were strong and kept the zero on the board. It wasn’t until past the midway point where Jamestown got on the board, with Max Hamstad finding the puck at the back of the net and firing a perfectly placed shot over Morelli’s shoulder to make it 4-1. The Black Bears fought back, with plenty of shots towards the Jamestown cage, while also keeping them at bay. Morelli made some solid saves and great reads with his stick, which led him to his 10th win of the season. 

No rest for the wicked, as Maryland will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to play the Titans in a one-off game, then come back home to take on the Johnstown Tomahawks in a rivalry match-up.

In Battle of the East’s Best, Maryland Takes Three of Four Points

ODENTON, MD– Getting back from holiday break, the Maryland Black Bears didn’t wait to get into it, as they took on the top team in the East in the New Jersey Titans. With some highlight reel goals along the way and solid blocks defensively, the Black Bears were able to take three of four points in a weekend split. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY JANUARY 7th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. New Jersey (4) OT: After 20 days of no hockey, both these teams took the ice and you could see that one shook off the rust a little faster in the first frame. The Titans took the play to the Black Bears to start, despite a good first couple shift for Maryland. New Jersey were able to get behind the defense a couple times and get odd-man rushes. Luckily, Michael Morelli was sharp and kept the Titans at bay to start the game. The Black Bears would wake up towards the middle of the frame and finally find the back of the net, as newly acquired Jack Blanchett came in from the point the wired on past Andrew Takacs for his first goal as a Black Bear. Maryland was able to control the pace in the latter part of the frame, but Takacs was able to keep it a one-goal game. 

Maryland couldn’t add to their strong finish, as New Jersey got onto the Black Bears early and their persistence led to them tying the game on an odd-man rush and Anthony Calafiore scoring as a trailer on the rush. New Jersey continued to press, so much that they drew a penalty at the mid-point of the frame. Maryland did give New Jersey some issues when it came to their power play, creating some shorthanded opportunities; but with some sustained pressure late, Stephen Willey was able to bank home a rebound in front, just as the penalty expired to give New Jersey their first lead. The Black Bears then started their attack, putting plenty of chances on the Titans defense, but went into the locker room down a goal. 

Just under two minutes into the third, Ryan Bottrill cut through the defense to get an initial shot, picked up a pass, went around the net a few times before putting home his ninth of the season, showing his no-quit mentality to tie the game. Moments after that, Tyler Young made the Titans defense look foolish, walking through the defenders and going top-shelf on Takacs to give the Black Bears a 3-2 lead. It was short lived, as Ryan Coughlin tied the game 20 seconds later on a rush off the face-off and seemingly catching the Black Bears flat-footed. Both teams battled back and forth, as the Black Bears took the offensive side of things in outshooting New Jersey 12-4 in the period and had plenty of chances late in the frame. Even so, regulation would not be enough for this game. 

In overtime, the Black Bears would have some chances, they would often have one attempt and New Jersey would take over possession from there. The possession game for New Jersey paid off, as Nick Ring finished the game after a great pass from Coughlin to stretch the ice and make the final 4-3 for New Jersey. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY, JANUARY 8th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. New Jersey (2): It wasn’t the start that the Black Bears wanted, as 33 seconds into the game Brendan Dumas ripped one behind Luca Di Pasquo after the Titans sustained some pressure quickly in their offensive zone. New Jersey kept the pressure on, as they had a couple more chances against Di Pasquo, but the Michigan State commit was able to keep them at bay. The Black Bears got on the board midway through the frame, as Ryan Bottrill was able to find Tyler Young coming down the slot and Young finished it off to tie the game at one a piece. Thanks to the Young goal and late power play, Maryland was able to sustain plenty of pressure in the New Jersey zone, but the period ended knotted at one. 

The momentum did carry into the second frame, as Maryland took the lead 32 seconds into the frame with Miles Gunty pouncing on a rebound from a Laker Aldridge wraparound to make it 2-1 Maryland. While the Black Bears were still buzzing, a questionable charging call sent Maryland to the box and allowed Tommy Bannister to get the equalizer at 3:59 into the middle period. New Jersey tried to capitalize, but Maryland was able to hold them without a goal thanks to timely blocks by the defense in front of Di Pasquo, the Titans couldn’t get the go-ahead marker. The Black Bears weren’t without their chances late, as Leo Schwartz beat Andrew Takacs, but not the post; keeping the game tied as the second intermission hit. 

A tense third period has emotions boil over when Luke Van Why was on the receiving end of a questionable hit by Coleman Nee. Van Why was the recipient of a couple of questionable hits and Jacob Brockman took umbridge to this hit and jumped to the chance to battle and had a spirited affair with Nee, which resulted in him getting an extra two minutes and game misconduct for instigating. Maryland was able to kill off the penalty and re-energize themselves. It wasn’t until late when Maryland struck, first from Branden Piku getting a wraparound goal to get by Takacs for the go-ahead marker. Only 1:28 later, Bottrill finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play between himself, Piku, and Young to give Maryland the insurance marker. New Jersey pressured the Black Bears late with Takacs pulled, but couldn’t find the goal, making the final 4-2 and giving the Black Bears three of four points on the weekend. 

The Black Bears are off this weekend, but then travel to Jamestown for the start of their five games in eight days run starting on January 21st.

Black Bears, Warriors Swap Defensemen

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

The Maryland Black Bears announced on Thursday that they had acquired defenseman Jack Blanchett from the Wichita Falls Warriors in exchange for Philip Törnqvist and future considerations.

Blanchett, a 2003 birth year blue liner, registered 12 points (5g, 7a) in 27 games this season after putting up only six assists in 42 games last season. A product of the Oakland Jr. A Grizzlies and Honeybaked AAA programs, Blanchett is a Lake Superior State University commit– joining Vlad Polegoshko and Branden Piku as commits to the Lakers.

Törnqvist leaves Maryland after coming in at the midway point of 2020-21 and holds the Black Bears record for most goals in a career by a defenseman with 14 in his 57 games. Törnqvist also is tied for top spot for power play goals by a defenseman and tied for all skaters in power play goals with five. Törnqvist was never afraid to jump in the play, but was savvy enough to catch up should he get caught out of position.

On the surface, both players seem more or less the same in terms of size and point production, so the move could raise some eyebrows. However, it shouldn’t be too much of a shake-up for the team. At times, a change of scenery can do a player well and maybe help a team in a key area when it comes to intangibles that player could bring.

The Black Bears and Blanchett will play New Jersey to kick off the second half of the season on Friday and Saturday at the Den in Piney Orchard. Head to Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com to pick up your seats for this battle of East Division leaders.