Divisional Final Rematch Finishes in Split for Black Bears

ODENTON, MD– Coming back from the NAHL Showcase, the Maryland Black Bears set their sights on divisional play with the Maine Nordiques coming into town for an East Division Final rematch. While some of the names may have changed, the intensity remained as both teams came out firing in Friday’s match, while Saturday’s tilt felt like a playoff affair.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 24th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Maine Nordiques (3): Maryland got off to a quick start Friday night, dictating the play early, which resulted in a goal within the first 3:30. Brad McNeil’s forecheck disrupted the Maine breakout, allowing Branden Piku to find Sean Kilcullen at the point and thanks to a screen in front, Kilcullen’s shot alluded Avery Sturtz to make it 1-0 Maryland. An Aden Bruich slashing call put Maryland on the penalty kill, but that wasn’t going to stop McNeil, who got past the Maine defense before getting hauled down by Matthew Connor and gave McNeil a shorthanded penalty shot. With a second chance, McNeil made no doubt, going backhand over Sturtz’s glove to make it 2-0 Maryland.

The Maryland lead was short-lived, however, as Maine got on the board 1:26 later with Nicholas Bernardo threw a puck by the goal line on Michael Morelli that squeaked in for the power play goal. A minute and 32 seconds later, Maine tied it after a turnover in the neutral zone lead to Dom Marcinkevics firing a wrister past Morelli to tie the game. The Nordiques kept pressing, but Morelli was solid, stopping a couple odd-man chances befor the period ended.

Things settled down in the second period, with chances going both ways. However, a turnover coupled with a mistimed line chance led Maine on a 2-on-1 with Marcinkevics burying his second of the game. Maryland kept pressing, however, as the Black Bears evened the score three minutes and change later with newly acquired Laker Aldridge getting a rebound in front and putting it home to tie the game.

Heading into the third tied at threes, the Black Bears used their forecheck again, this time from Miles Gunty, who picked up the loose puck and found Bobby Staring at the point, leading Staring to wire it home for his first of the year and to give Maryland the lead again. Maryland kept pressing, but Sturtz played strong to keep it a one-goal game before Elliott Lareau picked off a breakout pass in the neutral zone and fired it into the empty net to seal the 5-3 win for Maryland

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 25th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (0) vs. Maine Nordiques (3): With both teams making some line-up adjustments, it was a totally different tone of game in this one, a much more plotting game for sure. Maine got up early on the power play, as solid puck movement in the offensive zone allowed Matthew Connor to score on Luca Di Pasquo just under four minutes into the game. From that point on, Maryland started to turn up the possession numbers, putting shots on throughout– but not being able to beat Gus Holt.

Maryland dominated the offense in the second period, putting 20 shots on Holt, but nothing to show on the scoreboard. Di Pasquo wasn’t tested much in the second frame, but stood tall on a couple breakaways that Maine had on the night.

The third period has Maryland pressing more, moving the puck around their own zone well, but the bounces were going Maine’s way– quite literally. Bernardo took a shot that rebounded off the back wall and clipped the stick of Marcinkevics to make it 2-0 Nordiques just halfway through the period. Maryland got into penalty trouble late, which allowed Maine to clamp down on the Black Bears’ attack and capitalized, as Caden Pattinson got his first of the year off a rebound from Tristan Fasig to make it 3-0. That was how the game ended, as Maryland gets shutout for the first time since April 30th.

Maryland falls out of first place, as Northeast swept Johnstown this weekend. While it is still early, in what is shaping up to be another tight East Division, every game is going to matter that much more. The Black Bears are on the road plenty this weekend, as they’ll play in New Jersey on Friday night and then bus to Johnstown for a Saturday night affair.

Black Bears Drop Two in Last Two NAHL Showcase Games

BLAINE, MN– After a successful first two games, the Maryland Black Bears had a bit of bad luck in their final two games, dropping both of them to a score of 4-2.

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 17th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Odessa Jackalopes (4): The Black Bears were able to get off to a quick start in the third game of the Showcase, controlling the chances offensively before finally breaking through midway through the first with Jacob Brockman putting away his second of the year with a laser over the shoulder of Odessa’s William Proctor. With momentum and getting power plays, the Black Bears were trying to put it on Odessa; but on one of the power plays, the Jackalopes took the puck forward after a turnover at the blue line and Trevor Taulien’s shot alluded Michael Morelli to tie the game. Just 3:30 later, a turnover on a rush created a four-on-one for Odessa, ending in a Liam O’Hare goal to put the Jackalopes up at the end of the first, 2-1.

The second period yielded no scoring, but the Black Bears defense was pinching more and more to try and create some offense, but couldn’t get anything going. With the pinching, the Odessa offense did have some chances the other way, but Morelli was able to stave off the attacks.

With just over four minutes elapsed in the third period, Odessa struck again, as Christopher Duclair used his speed up the wing to drive past the Maryland defense and slide it five-hole on Morelli for the 3-1 lead. The Black Bears tried to get pucks through, but Odessa just seemd to know how to get their bodies in the shooting lanes to take away any chances for Maryland. With seventeen seconds left, Emerson Goode sealed the deal with the 4-1 marker, while James Tepper scored his first in the NAHL with a second left for Maryland to make the final 4-2 for the Jackalopes.

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 18th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (2) vs. Chippewa Steel (4): It was quite a neutral match-up for the first 40 minutes between Maryland and Chippewa, though Chippewa did hold the offensive advantage with almost double the amount of shots as Maryland had through 40 minutes. Even with the shot count being as it was, it was 0-0 after two periods.

The third period yield goals fairly quickly, as Chippewa scored two goals in 29 second in the first fives minutes of the frame. First, Chippewa capitalized on an interception of the breakout by Maryland, which led to a Marc Feltemeyer goal past Luca Di Pasquo. Twenty-nine seconds later, Chippewa intercepts another breakout pass with Nick Sajevic putting home the second goal. Maryland cut the lead in half minutes later with a cycle down low that saw Ryan Bottrill feed Jacob Brockman for his third goal of the season.

Maryland carried the momentum after that goal, but nothing was getting through Levi Gho. Chippewa came on late, as they picked up a drop pass of Maryland’s that stuck to the ice and went in 2-on-0 and led to a Thomas Grainda goal to make it 3-1. Jack Brown made it 4-1 with an empty netter for the Steel, while Philip Tornqvist scored on the power play with one second remaining, making the final 4-2 Chippewa.

It was the third Showcase for Maryland and the third time they finished with two wins. After a flight home tonight and probable day off Sunday, Maryland is back at it in preparation for the an East Division Final rematch against the Maine Nordiques Friday and Saturday night at Piney Orchard.

Two Days, Two Wins for Maryland at NAHL Showcase

BLAINE, MN– The NAHL is back at the NSC Super Rinks for the 2021 NAHL Showcase, where all the teams from the league head to Blaine, Minnesota to have inter-divisional play for four games. The Maryland Black Bears, having split their first weekend, took to the ice on Wednesday and Thursday against two teams from the South Division and took away two wins in the process.

WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 15th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Corpus Christi IceRays (3): The first game of the week, the Black Bears took on the newly reformed Corpus Christi IceRays, who sat out last season due to COVID protocols. The first period was a tale of two halves. The IceRays took control early, but Luca Di Pasquo was able to help stave off the shots against. Maryland started to get their wheels in the second half and gain momemtum just as the first period ended.

It took five minutes and one second in the second period for the Black Bears to strike, as Vlad Polegoshko got his first of the year off a Luke Van Why shot that was deflected in front on a delayed penalty call. Maryland then took advantage, putting pressure onto the IceRays, but Damon Beaver was equal to the task. With only 48 seconds left in the second, Corpus Christi struck with Jayden Jensen tipping home a shot in front of Di Pasquo to end the period at one.

Another quick start for Maryland, striking within the first five minutes of the third with Matthew Davies pinching in and getting a great pass from Dimitry Kebreau to put Maryland ahead. Just over three minutes later, the IceRays stretched the zone with cross-rink passing while it was 4-on-4, which ended with Oliver Stumpel putting home his first of the year. Polegoshko took control after that, first scoring a shorthanded goal with some great stick-handling though the defenders; then finding a loose puck deflected in front to sneak it by Beaver to complete his hat trick.

With some penalty issues, the Black Bears were able to kill off most of the threats, with some great blocks by Branden Piku and Sean Kilcullen, but Zach Dill was able to get one in on the power play with the goalie pulled to make it 4-3. It was for not, as Philip Tornqvist buried an empty netter to give the Black Bears the 5-3 win. The win was the third straight opening game Showcase win for Maryland.

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 16th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. WICHITA FALLS WARRIORS (2): Debuting their “black-out” jerseys, the Black Bears, Maryland looked to not fall into the pattern they had in Showcases past where they alternated wins and losses through out the event. Things were a bit deadlock in the first, both teams feeling each other out. However, the Warriors struck first shorthanded when a turnover in the defensive zone bounced around and ended with Carter Korpi potting home the goal. Just three minutes later, Luke Van Why found the back of the net, throwing a shot on goal that trickled through Matthew O’Donnell’s pads to tie the game up.

The second period started with Maryland getting into some penalty issues and just as the first one expired, Jack Blanchett carried the puck in and let it go from the top of the circle that Michael Morelli seemed to lose and it went right past him making it 2-1 Warriors. Maryland started to take the play to Wichita Falls in the middle part of the frame, creating plenty of chances before Van Why struck again with a laser of a shot from the point to tie the game up again. Morelli came up big after the goal, as the Warriors got a breakaway and Mo stuck out his right pad to keep it tied. The Black Bears had chances late, including a couple that went off the post, but did not direct in.

Going into the third tied for another game, the Black Bears used the momentum from their penalty kill and blocked shots and used it for the middle of the frame. Ryan Bottrill redirected a Van Why shot with under eight minutes left to give the Black Bears the lead after taking a puck to the top of the knee during that momentum shifting PK. No more than two minutes later, Bottrill set up Dylan Wegner in front for the 4-2 lead and eventually the win. Bottrill and Van Why had four points apiece, while Wegner had a goal and two assists on the game.

Maryland is right back at it on Friday with a late afternoon game against Odessa and closing out the Showcase with Chippewa.

Black Bears Settle For Weekend Split

ODENTON, MD– After a historic season last year, the Maryland Black Bears got back to the ice for the start of the 2021-22 season trying to build off of what they started last year. Returning nine full-time players and five players who saw some action as affiliated players, the Black Bears in the room knew the task at hand in order to get into the Robertson Cup final four.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. New Jersey Titans (0): Off the hop, the Black Bears tried to play off the energy of the crowd at The Den at Piney Orchard, getting to the Titans fairly early with some quick chances. However, the Titans turned the tide in the second half of the first period and into the second. Michael Morelli stood tall when he was called upon, helping the Black Bears out during some penalty kills in the second period.

With under a minute left in the second, the flood gates began to open for the Black Bears, with Jacob Brockman picking up a loose puck in front to put home the first goal of the season. Forty-five second later, Aden Bruich picked up his first of the year, ripping one home to make it 2-0 just before the buzzer. Bruich, however, wouldn’t see the end of the game, as he was subjected to two hits from behind, the second requiring him to be assisted off the ice for the remainder of the game.

The Maryland defensive corp got into the act towards the midway point of the third, with Luke van Why putting home a laser of a shot to make it 3-0, while Philip Törnqvist fired home a shorthanded goal to put Maryland up 4-0. Branden Piku showed just how the luck was paying off for Maryland, as a dump-in fooled Titans’ goalie Owen Hains and took a couple bounces around the cage before going in to make it 5-0.

Morelli stopped all 23 shots for his 3rd NAHL shutout of his career. Piku ended up with a goal and two assists, van Why had a goal and an assist, while defenseman Matthew Davies had two assists of his own.

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 11th, 2021: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. New Jersey Titans (4) OT: Penalty troubles hampered the Black Bears early, as under two minutes into the game; Jack Karlsson fired one past Morelli to give New Jersey an early 1-0 lead on the power play. Undaunted, the Black Bears responded 33 seconds later, as Piku followed up a Miles Gunty shot and put it past Ben Charette for the tying goal. Special teams wasn’t too great for Maryland at the start of the game, as a Törnqvist shot was blocked, resulting a Titans’ 2-on-1 and a Tommy Bannister shorthanded goal.

With neither team scoring in the second, the third period provided early season hurdles for the Black Bears. However, the rising star of the weekend came through again, as Piku netted his second goal of the game on a wrap-around caused by driving the net and using his speed to outpace the Titans defense. Just over 90 seconds later, Ryan Bottril– who had been snake bit all weekend– put home a rebound off a Joona Haarti shot in front that bounce around to give the Black Bears the lead (ed note: Haarti did not get an assist off that goal).

Maryland had all the momentum at that point, but the media timeout swayed the game a bit, as New Jersey was able to tie the game off a Jake LaRusso goal with 8:17 remaining in regulation. LaRusso seemed to be owed that one, as he had missed a couple “sure thing” goals earlier in the game. The rest of regulation solved nothing, putting the Black Bears and Titans into overtime. In the overtime, Maryland has some chances, but Charette was stellar in net for New Jersey. With under two minutes remaining, a lead pass up to Brandon Avezov sprung him for a quality chance, but Morelli stopped him sliding across. Avezov got his own rebound and another to put it past Morelli to end the game 4-3.

While a sweep would have been the most fairy tale result for the Black Bears this home weekend, to start with three points isn’t too terrible. Morelli looked solid in his two starts; the defense played well, though there’s some things to tighten up on; the offense looked solid when they had sustained time in the zone. It is a marathon of the season, but setting a tone early helps. Piku with six points in the series is a starting point, 10 different point contributors shows depth, while those who didn’t show up on the scoresheet provided in other ways– Kevin Scott and Sean Kilcullen being steady in their zone, Dimitry Kebreau and James Tepper bring the physical game, energy from Brad McNeil and Farrell Dinn– a full compliment of players chipping in.

Next up is the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota for four games in four days against three team from the South Division– Odessa, Wichita Falls, and Corpus Christi– and one from the Midwest– Chippewa– before returning to The Den to take on the team they faces in the East Final– Maine.

Cole Named 5th Black Bears Captain

The Maryland Black Bears announced their on-ice leadership on Thursday, with Conor Cole being named the fifth captain in Black Bears team history. Alternates for Cole will be Aden Bruich, Philip Törnqvist, Branden Piku, and Brad McNeil.

Conor Cole/ Photo via Maryland Black Bears

Cole is in his second season with the Black Bears after posting nine goals and 25 points last season, netting him a spot in the Top Prospects Tournament in June. An alternate captain last year, Cole was proficient in the face off circle, as well as on special teams.

“Conor is an extremely well-respected player within the room, and within the league,” mentioned Black Bears head coach and GM Clint Mylymok. “He plays the game the right way, always portrays himself in a professional manner, and is a fierce competitor. He is such a good person and his maturity reflects well with the values we want to portray as an organization, on and off the ice. He has big expectations for himself and our organization, and we feel there is no one better to lead the Maryland Black Bears in 2021-22 than Conor Cole”

LtoR: Törnqvist, Piku, Bruich, McNeil/ Photo via Maryland Black Bears

On the alternate side, four returnees will don the “A” this season, starting with three-year Black Bear Aden Bruich, a former first round pick. A physical presence, Bruich has 14 goals and 25 points over his two seasons with Maryland and is looking to hone his game before heading off to Clarkson University.

With a clutch scoring ability, Brad McNeil is looking to build off his first season in the NAHL. With five goals and 11 points, McNeil potted some timely goals for Maryland down the stretch, aiding in the first playoff berth in team history.

Despite only playing 32 games, Philip Törnqvist caught fire late in the season, finishing with six goals and 10 points before netting two goals and four points in the playoffs. With his training this off-season, look for the Swede to make a splash in his last year of junior hockey.

One of the spark plugs on the team, Branden Piku was limited to 28 games after joining mid-season, but still provided a lot of energy and scoring for the Black Bears. With six goals and 13 points, Piku will look to create more energy and excitement before he heads to Lake State next year.

Looking at this leadership group, you can’t go wrong with any of the choices. Whether it be by example on the ice or behind closed doors off it, these five players will help boost this squad up and continue the path they started to lay last year. I think the most crucial part is they’re all returnees; a first for the Black Bears in that instance. For all of them to know what is expected from Coach Mylymok and the staff will only help push the process forward for this team. They know what is expected, they know how to get to that point, and they won’t let others get left behind.

Carolina Hurricanes Select Montgomery in 2021 Draft

For the first time since 2016, a Marylander was selected in the NHL Draft. Bryce Montgomery had his named selected by the Carolina Hurricanes at pick 170. The Bowie native, currently playing with the London Knights, came up through the Washington Little Capitals and Team Maryland programs, while spending a brief time at DeMatha Catholic.

Scouting reports on Montgomery is that he has all the tools a ready-made NHLer needs with his size and speed, with varied opinion on other things. However, many believe he was undervalued in the draft and will be considered a steal at the 170th overall pick.

One of the things that really hindered Montgomery’s exposure this season was the lack of an OHL season due to the pandemic. While training is one thing for a player, in-game scenarios and actual play is another for scouts. Montgomery did participate in the FloHockey PBHH Invitational that was put on for junior players for scouts to see them in a showcase aspect.

Montgomery becomes the 10th player from Maryland to be drafted into the NHL. Others include Graham McPhee, Jeremy Duchense, Jeff Brubaker, Jarred Tinordi, Steve Shirreffs, Tyler Scott, Steve Scheifele, Tim Chase, and Jason Kostadine. In the link above from WTOP that Ben Raby put out, Montgomery talks about his pride when it comes to being from the area.

“Maryland is my home and the D.C. area — that’s where I was born,” Montgomery said to Raby. “I take great pride in being able to represent my area. I have a long road to go still, but I’m thankful to be one of the main representatives from our area for hockey.”

Here’s hoping that a full season in the OHL next year will provide Montgomery the space for him to shine through and prove himself as a sleeper pick for this draft and a big steal for Carolina. There’s still work to be done, as there’s plenty of top-tier talent on the blueline in Carolina’s system; it’s a matter of honing his skill in the next few years to really set himself apart from the field.

Maryland Selects Seven in 2021 NAHL Draft

The 2021 NAHL Draft has come and gone, with the Maryland Black Bears taking seven players overall, including one familiar face returning to The Den for the 2021-22 season.

With the 18th pick in the first round, the Black Bears picked forward Tyler Young from the Islanders HC of the NCDC. Young is committed to Providence College, but has quite the past for where he’s played. Along with Islanders HC– where he had 14 points in 15 games, Young played in 16 games with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL. In 2019-20, Young was in the BCHL with the Wenatchee Wild, potting 28 assists and 37 points in 56 games.

In the second round, Maryland picked defenseman Nolan Hayes with the 43rd pick. Hayes also comes from the NCDC with the South Shore Kings, where he had 19 points from the blueline in 35 games. Hayes also comes from the vaunted Cushing Academy, where he had 20 assists and 30 points in 2019-20. Hayes is committed to Sacred Heart University.

Staying in the second round– as well as the NCDC and a defender– Matthew Davies was the 47th pick. Coming up in the Omaha AAA program, Davies moved to the New Jersey Rockets last season, with 15 points in 42 games. Part of a hockey family, Davies’ grandfather Dave played three seasons for St. Louis University, his father Dan played four seasons for Air Force Academy, and his brother Andruw is coming up through the Islanders HC program in the USPHL.

A familiar face in the third round, as Miles Gunty was picked 71st overall by Maryland. Gunty appeared in four games for the Black Bears last year, and while he didn’t register an official point, his shootout goal in the last home game, coupled with his energy for that entire series gave a good outlook on what’s to come for the Black Bears this season. Gunty, a Brown University commit, also spent time with Youngstown in the USHL and Team Maryland’s 16U program.

Maryland then went back to a familiar country, as Sweden’s pipeline continues with the selection of Ivan Bjorkly Nordstrom in the 5th round. The forward comes from the Malmo Redhawks’ program and put up six goals and 12 points in 16 games last season. Nordstrom holds dual Swedish and Scottish citizenship, as he was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. With his size and skill, many think he has an outside chance of being selected in the NHL Draft.

[Editor’s Note: In an earlier version, I listed Nordstrom’s height. Elite Prospects and Dobber’s Hockey listed Nordstrom as 6’7, 216; while Malmo has him listed at 6’3, 211. We’ll have to see when he shows up to camp.]

The Black Bears also picked a goalie in the 5th round, with Luca Di Pasquo being selected 126th. Limited time for Di Pasquo this season with the Robertson Cup champions in Shreveport; but he does comes out of the Detroit youth scene, playing for Honeybaked, Victory Honda, and Compuware– three of the four heavy-hitters in that area.

With their last pick, the Black Bears when with Connor Bennett in the 6th round, 155th overall. Playing with the Peoria Mustangs in the NA3HL, Bennett had 14 goals and 29 points on the season, while accumulating 101 points in 133 games in the NA3. With plenty of potential, he could be a nice sleeper pick to provide some impact in the line-up.

Black Bears Trade Friedman, Kurtas to Corpus Christi

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

The Maryland Black Bears made a move less than a week before the NAHL Draft by trading Jude Kurtas and Grady Friedman to the Corpus Christi IceRays for a Tender contract, a 5th round pick in the 2021 NAHL Draft, and Conditional 2022 NAHL Draft Pick. The duo of Kurtas and Friedman connected on one of the biggest goals in Black Bears’ history with the series-winning goal against Johnstown in the playoffs.

A homegrown talent coming up through the Mercer Chiefs system, Kurtas played 97 regular season games for the Black Bears, putting him fourth on the Black Bears career list, while he is tied for third for career goals on the team with 17 and tied for second in franchise history with four game-winning goals. Friedman came to the Black Bears after time at Northfield Mount Hermon Prep School and put up five goals and nine points in his season. Friedman wasn’t afraid to mix it up, trying to play the role of energy guy for the Black Bears.

While it’s tough to lose the veteran presence these two over-aged players would have brought to this coming season; it remains to be seen what will come from the tender contract and the draft pick. The Black Bears have had some success with later round picks being a big part of the team with Luke Mountain, Luc Salem, Thomas Jarman, and Brayden Stannard all being picked past the fifth round. The tender contract is always something good to have in the holster to use or leverage for something else.

In the end, it’ll take time to see how this pans out, but both Kurtas and Friedman have been cemented in Black Bears lore and won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Black Bears, NAHL Release 2021-22 Schedule

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

Though the Robertson Cup was recently handed out, there is no rest for the wicked. The NAHL and their member teams released their 2021-22 schedule on Tuesday and the Black Bears have some highlights when it comes to their schedule.

  • For a third time in their four-year history, the Black Bears will open up at home against New Jersey. Each of the last two times, New Jersey has swept the series.
  • One big note is the start times for the home Black Bears games are not 7:45 PM anymore. Friday’s games will be either 6:30 PM ET or 7:30 PM ET depending on the weekend, while all Saturday dates are at 7:00 PM ET.
  • The Jamestown Rebels are back after a year hiatus. Maryland faces them in three home and three away series, including the home season finale at the Den.
  • Maryland faces Jamestown and New Jersey six weekends, with the other four teams in the East taking up four weekend during the season.
  • After the first weekend, the Black Bears and the NAHL are off to Blaine to take part in the NAHL Showcase were the Black Bears will take on four non-divisional team– which will be announced at a later date.
  • The Top Prospects Tournament is back to early February, after which– the Black Bears will take part in their lone afternoon weekday series against Northeast. There’s no note about it, but it’s probably safe to say that the TPT is back in Attleboro, home of the Generals.
  • Their first away weekend is a wild one in October, as the Black Bears playing New Jersey Friday and then Johnstown on Saturday.

It’s short and to the point, but let’s get thinking about the 2021-22 season– as the Draft is only two weeks away and then camps should start rolling in.

Royal Farms Arena Renos and You

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

It was announced on Wednesday that the Royal Farms Arena is finally get a renovation to the tune of $150M thanks to a bid from the Oak View Group in association with Thirty Five Ventures, a firm partnered by NBA player and Maryland-native Kevin Durant. It is a project that is about two decades in the making and will give a much needed spruce up the almost 60-year-old arena.

But before people get too excited about this renovation and start plotting ways for either expansion or relocation of minor league hockey teams– we have to give it a pause for a moment. In the news stories put out, nothing has been mentioned about the ice plant, playing surface (currently 195′ x 85′), or locker rooms being upgraded by this renovation. If anything, it seems that the “front of house” side of things (ie: seating, concourse, exterior, lighting) will be the most changed over this.

Does that mean it’s not going to happen?? Not necessarily, but it probably is down the line in terms of priorities. Not to mention, rumors of anyone using Baltimore as a leverage piece for relocation haven’t happened in a while, so it’s not as if it would be treated as a priority. While there has been stumping for Baltimore to get hockey back into RoFo, I wouldn’t hold my breath– especially if nothing is done for a new ice plant and resizing the arena for hockey.

In fact, the ice surface hasn’t been used for hockey since 2013 when the 2nd Baltimore Hockey Classic happened and was a calamity of errors due to melting ice, dropping attendance, and other behind-the-scenes situations that caused the idea to be scrapped by the Washington Capitals. The 2011 game against Nashville provided a crowd of 11,384, but when the 2013 games that featured the Bruins only garnered 7,634; the Caps decided to keep the gate at Verizon Center and left Royal Farms Arena out of their plans.

While Royal Farms Arena does host Disney on Ice for a stint, you’d have to think that more tangible interest would be needed to address the concerns for the hockey side of things. With all the news out there, it seems as if the focus is on concerts, family events, and other sports with nothing about ice being addressed.

Truth be told, the only way hockey comes back to Baltimore is with a new arena– point blank period. The side of the Royal Farms is much too big for a team to turn a profit now, much less with the seating expansion being proposed. The surface, ice plant, and other amenities would also be better suited if building a new arena. Despite accessibility being great to the arena with the Light Rail right outside– don’t expect to be going there for hockey any time soon.

This news is great for the Baltimore area in giving the venue a much needed face-lift and refresher. However, if you expect hockey to be a part of this new shift forward– maybe tamper those emotions just a little bit. Not only that, but there’s plenty of solid hockey during the season in Maryland already, it’s just a matter of going to it.