Black Bears Split Weekend in First Trip of the Season to Johnstown

JOHNSTOWN, PA– Making their first trip to Johnstown, the Maryland Black Bears came in riding a four-game winning streak. Taking on an old foe, the Black Bears fought and clawed all weekend long, but the tight-checking history between these two teams showed itself again, as the Black Bears would have to settle for a split in a pair of 4-3 outcomes. 

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

OCTOBER 21st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Johnstown (3): It was not the start that the Black Bears had wanted, as they were unable to really get the puck out of their zone and create any offense, making William Hakansson a little busier than normal; but coming up pretty big in the early going. While Maryland was trying to get their gears going, Johnstown would strike first with Drake Albers finding the puck off a tipped cross-ice pass and put it behind Hakansson for the 1-0 Tomahawks lead. From that point on, Maryland took over offensively and put up seven shots in the last five minutes, but still couldn’t find the equalizer in the first. 

Maryland took over control offensively again in the second and were able to keep Johnstown outside of their zone for the most part, with one big chance coming on a mini-break, but Hakansson closed the five-hole and kept the game at 1-0. Try as they might, the Black Bears still couldn’t find a way through Alec Rajalin-Scharp. 

Yet, if you throw things at the net, good things happen. Trey Scott proved that as he took the puck in the neutral zone and lofted it into the Johnstown zone, on-goal, and floated over Rajalin-Scharp’s shoulder that he didn’t even see and the Black Bears knot it up at one. With the first strike, the Black Bears continued to attack. They would get their go-ahead goal just past the midway point shorthanded, as Brayden Stannard picked up the loose puck at neutral and brought a two-on-one with Dimitry Kebreau with Kebreau finishing with a ripper for his 11th of the year, giving Maryland the lead. Special teams kept buzzing, with the power play getting on the action as Brad McNeil put home his third of the year off a Kebreau shot and putting Maryland up by two. Johnstown would strike late, with the extra attacker on; Albers threw his own shot at an odd angle that banked off of Hakansson and in the net to pull Johnstown to within one with under two to go. It took all of 20 seconds for Maryland to get the two-goal lead back, as an ill-advised rebound deflection by Rajalin-Scharp found Jesse Horacek, who cycled to Adam Schankula, who cycled to Stannard, who ripped a shot high on Rajalin-Scharp for Stannard’s first goal back as a Black Bear and making it 4-2. Twenty seconds after that, however, Johnstown cut the lead again, with Zachary Aben putting in high over Hakansson to get to within one with a minute left in the game. 

Maryland was able to hold off a late push, pinning the puck to the wall for the last 15 seconds, and taking game one of the road series by a score of 4-3. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY OCTOBER 22nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Johnstown (4): Maryland got out to a quick start, as Brayden Stannard’s speed was able to hinder Johnstown and force a high-sticking double minor. The Black Bears made short work of the first power play, as Dimitry Kebreau stayed hot, ripping one home past Matt O’Donnell for his 12th of the season. Maryland kept the hammer down and controlled the puck for the majority of the period, which then culminated in Christian Catalano getting his 11th of the year off a shovel shot thanks to a set-up from Sean Kilcullen to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead. While he wasn’t tested much in the first, Jack Wieneke was strong between the pipes, settling down pucks when needed and settling the play down if called for it. 

Johnstown got more aggressive, trying to rattle the cages of the Black Bears and create some offense in their own right. However, Maryland would be able to keep the Tomahawks at bay, keeping them to the outside and not letting them get too many quality opportunities. Maryland had plenty of chances of their own, but some penalty issues would stymie the Black Bears push. With 1:23 left in the frame, Johnstown would get on the board with Gabriel Lund scoring his first of the year as the Black Bears got caught in transition and had their lead cut in half before the end of the second frame. 

The third period saw the Black Bears defense show some cracks in its armor. After holding Johnstown at bay for the first half of the period, they broke through with Will Lawrence streaking through the slot unmarked and beating Wieneke to tie the game up at two. With under five minutes to play in the period, Drake Albers puts Johnstown ahead on a tip play through traffic in front and Wienke getting bumped from behind. Less than a minute after Albers goal, Johnstown struck again; as Maryland was unable to clear the zone and Tyler Chenevert redirected a shot to make it 4-2. Try as they might, the Black Bears got to within one while shorthanded and with the goalie pulled, as Kaleb Tiessen was given a ton of time and space, which led him to rip a wrister five-hole on O’Donnell to get Maryland to within one with under 90 seconds remaining. The late push wouldn’t cash, as the Black Bears fell to Johnstown and split the weekend. 

These two teams face off again next weekend, as Maryland will play host for a three-game set Friday through Sunday. To get in on the action, head to to get your seats for the entire weekend.

Black Bears Sweep Danbury For Second Straight Weekend

ODENTON, MD– After a weekend in Danbury that saw the Black Bears take home four points, Maryland looked to do it on home ice; as they returned to Piney Orchard for the first time since September 10th. While they faced a more aggressive Jr. Hat Tricks team, the Black Bears were too much for Danbury and took four more points from them in a back-to-back sweep. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

OCTOBER 17th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. Danbury (1): Right at the opening puck drop, the Jr. Hat Tricks were showing a new-found aggressiveness and was starting to carry the offensive play for the first bit of the game. However, Jack Wieneke was sharp between the pipes, staving off a couple of good chances from Danbury to keep the game scoreless. Maryland was able to get their feet underneath them and push the pace of play. That resulted in Maryland’s first goal with Trayce Johnson springing Branden Piku on a breakaway with Piku converting for his first goal of the season and first goal back with the Black Bears. Maryland would keep the pressure on, but couldn’t get another goal; taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission. 

The Black Bears didn’t need too much time in the second to get a two-goal lead, with Hunter Ramos notching his seventh of the season 1:31 into the second, coming down the wing and wiring one past Patrik Berzins to make it 2-0. Less than 90 seconds later, however, Danbury gets on the board on a delayed called, as Logan Nickerson getting his squad on the board; benefitting from Bohdan Panasenko’s wonderful stickhandling to find Nickerson and cutting the Black Bears lead in half. Maryland got into penalty trouble through most of the frame, but their penalty kill was stellar, including a couple of chances shorthanded; but did not cash in while keeping the Jr. Hat Tricks from tying up the game. 

It was a neutral zone tilt for most of the third period, with a total of six shots on goals combined; Maryland having the 5-1 lead in that stat. Two of those five shots resulted in goals, as the power play cashed in with Luke Van Why wiring home his third of the season with the passing game for the power play getting Danbury disjointed and allowed Van Why a lane to rip one behind Berzins to make it 3-1. To end it out, Brayden Stannard’s hard work on the penalty kill saw create a turnover with eyes on the empty net, but he got tripped up on his way towards it. Luckily, Brad McNeil was there to kill some time off the clock as he skated in to put home the team’s fourth goal to make the final 4-1. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

OCTOBER 15th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. Danbury (1): Maryland continued their offensive zone domination, taking it to the Jr. Hat Tricks in the early going and tilting the ice their direction. Being able to maneuver the puck, as if they were on a power play, helped spread the zone and give Maryland the chances they got in the first. Adam Johnson had to be big for Danbury to keep the game scoreless. Danbury did crack the scoresheet first with Logan Nickerson carrying the puck around the net, throwing it out in front, and having it bounce off of William Hakansson and in the net for the Jr. Hat Tricks first lead in the last two series. However, 25 seconds later, Christian Catalano evened up the score with a seemingly harmless shot on Johnson that went behind the netminder and put the Black Bears even with Danbury. 

The Black Bears continued to pace the game offensively in the second period, but couldn’t find a way past Johnson, while Hakansson was solid in the chances he saw in the middle frame, but nothing past the Swedish netminder for Maryland. 

An early power play for the Black Bears resulted in the go-ahead goal, with Catalano going end-to-end, showing off his speed, and putting it over the shoulder of Johnson in another highlight reel play for the RIT committed forward. In the middle of the frame, Maryland had to hold off pressure from Danbury, caused mostly by some defensive lapses by the Black Bears, but Hakansson stayed cool under the pressure to keep the Black Bears up by one. To seal it, Branden Piku capped off his homecoming with an empty-net goal to give Maryland the 3-1 victory and the sweep on the weekend. 

The Black Bears now travel up to Johnstown to take on the Tomahawks Friday and Saturday nights before returning home the next weekend for a three-game set against the Tomahawks. 

Black Bears Sweep Danbury, Pick Up Franchise’s 100th Regular Season Win

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

DANBURY, CT– After some changes to the Maryland roster ahead of the roster deadline, the Black Bears had a bigger task at hand in the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. After their six-game win streak was broken last Saturday, Maryland aimed to start a new one; which was quite successful in the sweep of Danbury over the weekend. 

FRIDAY OCTOBER 7th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Danbury (1): With new faces in new places, the Black Bears took a bit of time to find some chemistry with their new teammates, but after a shift or two– things clicked. Maryland took control offensively, tilting the ice in their favor with a 20-5 shot advantage after 20. There was nothing to show, but the seeds were being sown. Maryland did give up some chances, but Jack Wieneke was solid, despite not facing much action; making key saves when called upon. 

More pressure from Maryland, as they continued to control the pace of the game when they finally broke through. Taking a pass from Branden Piku, Dimitry Kebreau extended his goal-scoring streak to five games with a rocket on the off-wing to make it 1-0 Maryland. The Black Bears continued the pressure in the Danbury zone, as they knew they could get a second one in due time. That due time game with Christian Catalano putting him a loose puck off a Jesse Horacek shot and the Black Bears went up 2-0. Wieneke played solid in net, again not facing many top chances. Unfortunately, Danbury would get on the board with Bohdan Panasenko netting his own rebound to cut the lead in half. The Jr. Hat Tricks got some momentum off that, starting to get through the neutral zone easier and trying to sustain some pressure. Once the buzzer sounded, however, the game was still a one-goal contest in favor of Maryland. 

The niceities came through between both teams, as Danbury and Maryland traded physical barbs and plenty of scrums at the end of plays. Not much to show for it on the penalty side until the end, however. Maryland did get their two-goal lead back, as Jesse Horacek got behind the defense after a breakout and wired one to the top corner to make it 3-1. With Maryland continuing their push, Danbury tried to slow it down after the whistles before Brad McNeil and Danbury’s Sean Matthews got into a tussle, resulting in Matthews heading to the showers early. The Black Bears had a power play the rest of the game, which led them to the 3-1 victory. 

SATURDAY OCTOBER 8th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Danbury (0): Some pleasantries were exchanged during the first part of the game, with each side reintroducing themselves, but nothing came from any of it. What did come from the first was more offensive prowess, as the Black Bears got things started just past the six minute mark with Maryland keeping the puck in at the point and turning it into Kaleb Tiessen’s first goal of the season with Luke Van Why on the helper. Maryland kept the feet moving and less than four minutes later, Dimitry Kebreau had plenty of time and space to bury his 10th goal of the year and moved his goal-scoring streak up to six games while putting the Black Bears up 2-0. Danbury tried to answer back, but Jack Wieneke and the defense for Maryland were up to the task and kept all the Jr. Hat Tricks attempts at bay, keeping the 2-0 lead into the intermission. 

Tasked with killing off a penalty to start the frame, the Black Bears got plenty of chances shorthanded while keeping Danbury looking for answers. Maryland continued to tilt the ice, with their offense peppering Danbury’s Adam Johnson in net. Hunter Ramos finally connected with under five minutes to go in the frame with a rocket of a shot going right through Johnson and made it 3-0. Stacked with four lines that can score at any moment, the Black Bears continue to be a force and able to keep the opposition at bay with their stingy defense. 

Danbury tried to fight back in the third, matching their two period total in shots during the last 20 minutes, but Maryland was able to fend off the attacks, Wieneke looking comfortable in his crease. With under five minutes to play, Jesse Horacek was streaking down the wing and hit a laser cross-ice pass to Christain Catalano, who put it into the yawning cage to make it a 4-0 Black Bears lead. After the goal, things get feisty again, with a couple of cross-checking penalties to show for it. It didn’t mean much at the end, as the Black Bears preserved the shutout for Wieneke and pushed their record to 10-2-0 on the season. 

The win also marked the Black Bears’ 100th regular season win in franchise history, all under the watchful eye of Clint Mylymok. In just over four seasons, Mylymok’s squads have gotten better and better each season, putting together the right pieces for what’s needed in Maryland. Add that to the 27 players who have committed to NCAA programs in those four seasons and Mylymok has built a culture of advancement in the Black Bears organization. 

Maryland finally gets to play at home for the first time since opening weekend, as they’ll take on the Jr. Hat Tricks Friday and Saturday nights from Piney Orchard.

Black Bears Make Roster Moves Ahead of Roster Deadline

The Maryland Black Bears made some moves ahead of the roster deadline on Friday. Some trades, some releases, and some familiar faces. 

First, the Black Bears traded Leo Schwartz to the New Jersey Titans for a tender contract. In 34 games with Maryland, Schwartz had a goal and six assists. The Brown University commit will join the defending Robbie Cup champs as they revamp their roster. 

Second, Maryland welcomed back two familiar faces in Branden Piku and Brayden Stannard. Piku, who was up with the USHL Youngstown Phantoms, spent his last two seasons in Maryland with 24 goals and 63 points in 85 games. Stannard is two years removed from the Black Bears, as he played in the shortened 2019-20 season with 13 goals and 35 points. Stannard played the last two seasons split with Green Bay, Youngstown, and Lincoln of the USHL. 

The Black Bears also picked up Trey Scott from Youngstown. Scott played last season in the NCDC with the Boston Jr. Bruins with a goal and 15 assists from the point. 

With the additions, more releases had to be made. While they are not official, Birch Gorman and Cody Melanson are off the active roster for Maryland. Gorman played five games and had eight PIMs. Melanson played two games with four PIMs. 

With three players down to injury or illness, the Black Bears are carrying five over the 24 player limit and are probably going to need to make room when the injuries are recuperated. 

Black Bears Split Weekend Versus Defending Champs

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

MIDDLETOWN, NJ– Heading into the weekend on a five-game win streak, the Maryland Black Bears went to Middletown, New Jersey to take on the defending champs on the Titans’ opening weekend. With banners raised and some gloves dropped, the Black Bears would have to leave New Jersey with a split on the weekend. 

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 30th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (8) at New Jersey (4): It was banner night for the Titans, as they had their first home game of the season and raised their Robertson Cup championship banner, which created an interesting vibes for the night, one that didn’t go the Black Bears way to start with two straight penalties in under four minutes that led to two Titans power play goals, first from Anthony Calafiore and then by Michael Young, putting the Titans up by two early. Maryland would settle down and capitalize on a power play of their own, with the work around perimeter getting the Titans to chase and leaving Hunter Ramos in the slot for his fourth goal of the year off a solid dish from Christian Catalano and cutting the lead in half. Two minutes later, Adam Schankula would tie the game up grabbing the rebound off an Elliott Lareau shot for his second of the season. The Titans would go ahead with a penalty shot goal from Young over the shoulder of William Hakansson for the 3-2 New Jersey lead. The Black Bears got late power plays, with Dimitry Kebreau keeping his hot streak alive with his sixth of the season off a Gunnar VanDamme shot that found Kebreau’s blade and in the back of the net. Then, with only 3.2 seconds left, Gabriel Westling helped create a turnover and finished the job for his third of the year to give Maryland the 4-3 lead before the intermission. 

The Black Bears started hot again in the second, with Ramos netting his second of the game off an alley-oop pass from Sean Kilcullen and breaking in to beat Zakari Brice for the 5-3 lead, a goal that would get Brice pulled for New Jersey. Less than a minute later, Catalano got in on the scoring, taking a Kilcullen breakout pass down and cutting in to beat Jacob Torgner for a 6-3 lead. The assists for Kilcullen gave him points 41 and 42 of his Black Bears’ career and putting him 1st all-time for points from a defenseman in team history. A late penalty from Maryland had New Jersey get a goal back from Levante Kereszetes and make it 6-4 going into the second break. 

Much like usual, the Black Bears shutdown the opposition in the third period, playing smart defensive hockey and not allowing many quality chances in their own zone. They didn’t completely shut down, as they counterpunch better than most. Just after the halfway point, Catalano got his second of the game after another turnover at the blue line, as he ripped it high on Torgner for the 7-4 lead. With under five minutes left, Westling also netted his second of the game, sniping short-side on an odd-man rush to make it 8-4 and give Maryland their third win against the Titans this season. 

SATURDAY OCTOBER 1st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at New Jersey (6): Plenty of fireworks happened less than a minute into the game, as Ryan Novo hit a Black Bear from behind, which lead to Birch Gorman and Eric Charpentier to get into it and Gorman getting tossed from the game. Things settled down on the physical side, but offensively the Titans would strike first with Novo getting the opening goal after a solid breakout by the Titans caught Maryland a little flat-footed in transition. The Black Bears did have some chances later on in the frame, but nothing could get behind Jacob Torgner in the first. 

Maryland did start the second period quick, with Christian Catalano almost having a duplicate of his goal from Friday, using his speed to break in and beat Torgner to tie the game. While Maryland got into the some penalty trouble, Dimitry Kebreau continued his hot streak, picking off a pass and taking it on his own for the shorthanded goal that pushes his goal-streak to four games and point-streak to five games. The penalties would catch up to Maryland, as New Jersey struck soon after on another play with a Brendan Dumas shot fooling Jack Wieneke and trickled over the line to tie the game at two. More punches from the Black Bears didn’t result in a goal, which with eight seconds left in the frame saw Tyler Sanborn laser a shot over Wieneke’s shoulder to make it 3-2 Titans going into the intermission. 

A tight-checking third period didn’t yield many chances for either side until late in the game, but favoring the Titans. With three goals in 1:09 of game play– Michael Young on the power play, Dumas with an empty-netter, and Johnny McMahon breaking in late– the Titans were able to secure a split on the weekend and end the Black Bears six-game win streak. 

Maryland now travels to Danbury to end their four-weekend road trip to take on the Jr. Hat Tricks Friday and Saturday nights.

Black Bears Offense Fires on All Cylinders in Weekend Sweep

SEWELL, NJ– In what could be the most dominant weekend for the Maryland Black Bears, they travelled to the Philadelphia-adjacent area to take on the newly-minted Philadelphia Rebels and swept the weekend with a high-powered offense and tight defense to carry them to victory. 

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SEPTEMBER 23rd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) at Philadelphia (0): Off the hop, the Black Bears were smothering the Rebels defense, with Samuel Stitz creating a turnover at the blue line and finding Hunter Ramos for the early 1-0 lead under 90 seconds into the game. Maryland continued the pressure with Christian Catalano and Jesse Horacek trying to set one-another up, but could not connect with the back of the net. The speed of the Black Bears caused havoc and turnovers, with the penalty kill even getting some solid chances– but the Black Bears had to settle with the 1-0 first period lead. 

The barn doors opened for Maryland in the second period, with Dimitry Kebreau getting the scoring started 1:14 into the middle stanza, shorthanded, thanks to a chip off the glass by Gabriel Westling to make it 2-0 for Maryland. The Black Bears opened up a firing range, outshooting the Rebels 23-3 in the second, which created many more goals. Kebreau struck again just past the midway point, coming in and sniping a shot to make it 3-0 for Maryland. Keeping the pressure on, Jesse Horacek grabbed the rebound from the Adam Schankula breakaway to make it 4-0 late in the second, when 10 seconds later, Kebreau finished the hat trick with a snipe from the top of the slot and the Black Bears go into the locker room up 5-0. 

It wasn’t a prevent defense situation, as Maryland kept their attack going, making sure they made a statement out of this game. Not to be overshadowed, the defense was able to limit the Rebels to only one shot in the final frame and helped William Hakansson have a basic night, leading him to an 11-save shutout as the Black Bears took it 5-0. 

SEPTEMBER 24th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at Philadelphia (1): The offense was once again dominant for Maryland, as they put 26 shots on goal, tilting the ice towards Rebels goalie Jake Fiolkoff– who took over in the third of Friday’s game. Fiolkoff was stymying the Black Bears, making solid saves and keeping the game scoreless through one. 

Maryland’s Jack Wieneke made his second start in net and made some solid saves in the few chances he faced through the first two periods. Weineke got some goal support in the second frame, as well, with Catalano getting the first goal of the game and his third of the season after tapping home the rebound off a Horacek shot and putting Maryland up 1-0. Try as they might, the Black Bears only had eight shots in the frame to Philadelphia’s five. 

The pressure was put back on from Maryland, trying to get the insurance marker for themselves, putting plenty of shots on Fialkoff, but nothing was able to get through in the first part of the period. However, it was the man-of-the-weekend, Kebreau, who was able to get the all important insurance goal for the Black Bears, crashing the net on a Quinn Kennedy pass and getting his four goal of the weekend. Maryland would give up a goal, as Klaus Jogi scored on the rebound passed a diving Wieneke to get the Rebels to within one. Maryland held strong, though, keeping the Rebels at bay and took home the 2-1 victory and the weekend sweep. 

The Black Bears are back in New Jersey next weekend, this time to take on the Titans up at the Middletown Ice Arena Friday and Saturday night.

Black Bears Get Three Wins in Statement Showcase Appearance

Photo Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

BLAINE, MN– This won’t be your typical weekly review. The Showcase being four games would be plenty of writing and not really give the proper service to what was shown out of the Maryland Black Bears this week. This Showcase showed what this Black Bears team is capable of and what we can expect out of this team going forward. 

The team was adaptable and were able to fix things on the fly. Looking at Wednesday’s loss against Janesville, the big concern there was play in the defensive zone. All three of Janesville’s goals were a result of the Black Bears not being able to clear the zone and turning it over in their own zone. Maryland did stay in the game, got the equalizer late into the second, but also gave up another goal with under 90 seconds left in the frame, with Janesville’s last goal being the deciding factor. 

On Thursday, some defensive changes were made and the Black Bears locked it down. They were able to keep El Paso at bay for the majority of the game. It also helps when they strike early and often, getting goals from their depth players; Dimitry Kebreau tallying two goals and an assist; while also getting scoring from the blue line thanks to Gunnar VanDamme’s two assists. 

Friday was keeping pace with an elite program in Aberdeen. The first two frames were evenly matched and both teams were able to punch and counterpunch. Four unanswered goals were the difference, with Gabriel Westling and Adam Schankula having multi-point games and William Hakansson playing solid throughout to give Maryland a big 4-1 win, assuring at least a two-win Showcase; a tradition of this team. 

However, they wanted that extra win and wanted it in grand fashion. Early start be damned, as the depth comes back for Maryland again. Kal Essenmacher got things going, Kareem El-Bashir netted two goals trying to cement an every-game slot in the line-up, VanDamme showing he’s an elite puckhandling blue liner. Not to mention Christian Catalano continuing his top-notch play and Sean Kilcullen quietly having a breakout start to his season. A big win against a Robertson Cup Final Four team  from last year put the exclamation point at the end of this Showcase for Maryland. 

To not be haunted by a late goal that was the game-winner and then turning it into two goals early in the next game, while also making sure those mistakes don’t become a frequent occurrence shows the quick growth and adaptation of this year’s team. Depth was shown with 11 different goal scorers and solid play from all three goalies who got into net. Maryland was 15/16 on the penalty kill, which is good, but to give up almost four power plays a game isn’t ideal; however, Maryland does know how to get offense from defense with several shorthanded chances throughout the weekend. 

Last season ended terribly. Sure, they closed out the season with a win, but they didn’t hold their playoff fate in their hands thanks to losses earlier in the season. For the returning players, you have to think that is weighing on them and they are letting the newcomers know about it. This looks like a more determined Black Bears team, a team on a mission to make sure they don’t have to rely on anyone else to get to the postseason. While it’s only four games in a weekend, you can tell a lot by a team in that span, especially when it’s against four different opponents. 

Maryland gets back to divisional play on Friday, travelling the Hollydell, New Jersey to take on the new look Philadelphia Rebels.

Towson Women’s Squad Shutter For 2022-23 Season

While we were celebrating the revitalization of the women’s Crab Pot Tournament, we start this week off with some bad news when it comes to women’s club hockey. On Sunday, it was announced that Towson, due to lack of players, will not participate in a competitive season for the 2022-23 season. The announcement was posted on Facebook by players Lane Sky, Kiana Craven, Mikaela Prien, and Halyna Sokoliouk. 

It has been a rough go for the Towson squad the last couple of years. Last season, they posted a 3-9-1 record after losing the entire 2020-21 season to COVID regulations However, they also lost five of their 13 players from last year to graduation. In 2019-20, they scored their first win in over two years on opening night, but didn’t fare too much better after before COVID hit. 

Though the days have been dark, this isn’t a program that has always had struggles. The Tigers were back-to-back-to-back DVCHC champions from 2014 until 2016, but with any program, rebuilds happen. Especially at the club level where recruiting is tougher than most, it’s harder to maintain the excellence like they had in the middle of the 2010s. 

As a bright side to this is that the team will still practice, still hold events, and still be prominent on campus. While the team were 3-5 players short at a minimum, it’s good to know they’re going to keep their names out there and maybe use some practice time to get some first-time prospective players out on the ice to see if it’s for them or find some people who may be too timid to have shown up previous. 

While this does stink considering the circumstances, full marks for the players knowing that going into the season shorthanded wouldn’t make matters better for them and knew when to call it quits, as tough as it may have been for them to do so.

Black Bears Sweep Defending Champs in Opening Weekend

ODENTON, MD– It was 147 days since the Maryland Black Bears touched the ice at Piney Orchard, but the time has come for a new season where hope springs eternal in the chase for the Robertson Cup. But to be the team, you’ve got to beat the team with the team now being the defending Robertson Cup champions in the New Jersey Titans. Familiar foes on opening weekend, but the Black Bears kicked off their fifth anniversary season in strong form with a weekend sweep of the champs. 

Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) vs. New Jersey (2): It was an inauspicious start for the Black Bears, as New Jersey struck less than a minute as William Hakansson got tangled up behind the net and trapped there, as Ryan Novo tipped home a Eric Charpentier shot to make it a 1-0 scoreline. Maryland would strike back not long after, as Jesse Horacek came streaking down the wing and was able to pot one past Ben Charette to level the game. Maryland kept pressing, as captain Brad McNeil got in on the action with a tip off a Christian Catalano shot to gain the lead for the Black Bears. Hakansson settled down the rest of the frame and came up with some key saves in order to keep the Black Bears ahead going into the first intermission. 

Business picked up on both sides with plenty of physical play, some of it going over the line– as it was a penalty filled frame in the second. Maryland would cash-in on the power play on their third attempt of the period with Elliott Lareau putting it home after great possession down low by Dimitry Kebreau and Quinn Kennedy to create the third goal for Maryland. It wasn’t until late in the frame when New Jersey got within one, as Charpentier got and outlet from Charette and beat Hakansson high glove to make it a 3-2 game just before the intermission. 

The late goal didn’t affect the Black Bears going into the third period, as Hunter Ramos would help regain the two-goal lead with a great one-timer from a Samuel Stitz feed to make it 4-2. The forecheck was aggressive all night, clogging the lanes when they needed and not giving the Titans much to work with. Hakansson came up big late in the game to secure the team’s second-straight opening night win by a score of 4-2.


Photo Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) vs. New Jersey (1): With first night jitters out of the way, both teams were able to play a tighter first period of play. Hakansson had some big stops early for Maryland, including two point-blank saves to keep the game scoreless early. The Black Bears had plenty of zone time in the middle of the period and the pressure paid off with Stitz cleaning up the garbage in front and sliding it behind Zakari Brice to give the Black Bears a 1-0 lead. The pressure kept going, as Catalano was able to weave through the defense to set up Horacek, but the puck rolled off Horacek’s stick and was unable to extend the lead for Maryland. 

Chippiness continued through the series and into the second with plenty of matching penalties and even the coaching staffs were getting a little friendly verbally with each other. Maryland did get into some penalty troubles on their own, with some roughing, slashing, and too-many-men calls against them. One of those calls would even up the game, as Johnny McMahon ripped one home off the wing to beat Hakansson to tie the game at one. With a power play late, Maryland cashed in with the extra man again as Luke Van Why threw a seeing eye shot at the net and Adam Schankula got the drive-by tip in front with 2.6 seconds left to give the Black Bears the 2-1 lead heading into the second intermission. 

Maryland was able to goad New Jersey into some penalties with their speed and getting into lanes and with great movement on the power play, they gained a two-goal lead with Sean Kilcullen getting his first of the year off a great set-up by Catalano and crushed it behind Brice close to the midway point of the period. Tempers flared with Schankula was driving the net and was shadowed by Sylas Oberting, who guided Schankula and tossed him into Brice. Ryan Novo and Brendan Dumas looked for Schankula after with Novo, Dumas, and Schankula getting major penalties and game misconducts. The Black Bears didn’t cash in on the majors, but they were able to keep the lead and sweep the weekend with a 3-1 final and their first opening weekend sweep in team history.

Up next, the Black Bears head to Blaine to take part in the NAHL Showcase starting on Wednesday.

Women’s Crab Pot Tournament is Back!!

Back in November, I mentioned that it might be time to look at reinstating the Crab Pot Tournament for women’s hockey. It only happened twice in the past and with the growth of club hockey teams in mid-Atlantic corridor, it’d be foolish not to do it– as not all teams have to be Maryland-based, as we’ve seen with the men’s and women’s side.

Well, it’s back!!

Thanks to the Loyola Greyhounds schedule release, the Crab Pot Tournament for the women is going to take place October 28th through 30th. As it stands right now, you’d have to think that Navy, the common host of the men’s event, will join Loyola; but no other details have been released. You’d also have to assume that it would be held at McMullen Arena, as well.

Regardless, it’s great to see this on the schedule for the women’s side. The growth of women’s hockey at the club level has been solid and to have a tournament like this is a great tradition to start for Navy and have a parallel to the men’s event at the end of the year. With four Maryland-based teams, you could theoretically keep it as an in-state rivalry tournament– but that remains to be seen.

For now, just circle it on your calendar and get ready for more information about who is in it and how you could attend.