ODENTON, MD– After dropping four of their last five games, the Maryland Black Bears returned home for a date with the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Jockeying for position, the Black Bears faced a team who came into the weekend on an eight-game slide. However, after a sharp first period Friday, Danbury used their momentum for the rest of the series to help them split the weekend with Maryland.
FRIDAY, MARCH 4th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (5) vs. Danbury (2): It was an emotional night as the Team Maryland Hockey Director and Black Bears scout Chris Ceransky passed away earlier in the day. The Black Bears had four starters who had gone through the Team Maryland system to honor what Ceransky provided for the area in his development of players to the next level.
Having lost four of their last five, the Black Bears knew they needed a quick start, which is what they got by taking the offensive game to Danbury. Creating some offensive zone time and peppering Marino Ramirez in the Jr. Hat Tricks’ net. Enough chances paid off for the Black Bears, as Tyler Young tapped in the first goal after Jacob Brockman out waited the Danbury defense and Ramirez and threw it at the vacant cage, but Young was there to open up the scoring. It only took 38 seconds for the Black Bears to score again, with Brockman finding a streaking Jack Blanchett who roofed it over Ramirez to put Maryland up 2-0. Danbury started to gain some offensive momentum of their own after the second goal, but Michael Morelli was solid in the early going with good saves and solid positioning. Though they didn’t score on their first power play, the Black Bears used the momentum off that to create their third goal, with Dimitry Kebreau redirecting a Kevin Scott shot to make it a 3-0 game. Scoring in bunches, the Black Bears struck again 20 seconds later with Elliott Lareau starting a 2-on-1 with Laker Aldridge ending with Aldridge wiring one past Ramirez for the 4-0 lead.
Danbury got off to a much better start in the second period, starting to get their offense going. Their speed was able to draw a penalty early in the frame, which resulted in an odd bounces going their way. Kevin Scott tried to clear the puck on the penalty kill, but it hit off Gabe Dombrowski and behind Morelli for Danbury’s first goal of the game. While Maryland started to push back and not let the floodgates open, Danbury cut the lead in half with Luka Sukovic getting behind the defense and beating Morelli. After the goal, things got out of hand as a high hit on Jesse Horacek by Hunter Young led to a line-brawl including a goalie fight resulting in mayhem overall. Even with the five-minute major power play, the Black Bears couldn’t get any goals in it. Right after the power play, Ryan Bottrill was given a gift as Brockman picked off an errandly played puck by Connor McDonough and fed Bottrill to make it 5-2 Maryland.
Some more bad blood in the third, as the physicality picked up a notch, leading to Aldrdige and Hunter McCurdy getting into a spirited affair. There were plenty of extra-curricular activities after the whistle between the teams, as both sides were running hot. Maryland’s penalty kill created some offense in their lone appearance of the frame, including a shot off the cross-bar by Lareau on one of the attempts. Luca Di Pasquo, who replaced Morelli after the fight, was able to stand tall in net with two big saves later in the period. With those saves, the Black Bears were able to hold onto the 5-2 win.
SATURDAY, MARCH 5th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (1) vs. Danbury (2): After the night before, the Jr. Hat Tricks carried the pace, building off the end of Friday’s game and controlling the offensive play. Luca Di Pasquo was tested by Danbury early, but tracked the puck well and kept them at bay. Maryland couldn’t get much of anything going offensively, as Danbury played solid in their defensive zone, getting their sticks and bodies in the way of any Maryland chance. The only marker in the first frame was from Danbury, as Robert Hyde deflected a Hunter McCurdy shot that fooled Di Pasquo and made it 1-0 for the Jr. Hat Tricks.
The Black Bears woke up a bit in the second in part to an early power play. That allowed Maryland to get their offense going a bit, getting time in the offensive zone and some shots on Connor McDonough, but nothing was able to get behind the Danbury netminders. Even with all the offensive zone time, the Jr. Hat Tricks struck again– this time due to some issues in the defensive zone with a couple turnovers when trying to break-out; but Di Pasquo mishandled a puck behind the net and Boris Skalov was able to cash to make it 2-0 Danbury. Despite more offensive zone time and some better chances from the Black Bears; they were unable to let the fish fly after 40 minutes.
The pressure from the Black Bears started to increase for the third period knowing they had an uphill battle ahead. Even with the shots on net, Danbury’s tight checking did not allow any Black Bears to get free and pounce on the rebounds. It wasn’t until the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo for the extra attacker that Maryland struck, as Conor Cole pumped a one-timer homer off a great set-up by Sean Kilcullen and cut the lead in half with just over a minute remaining. Even with a late push in the last minute, Maryland couldn’t get the tying goal and dropped the game 2-1 to split the weekend.
Maryland will be back at home next weekend, as the Jamestown Rebels are in town Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available at Tickets.MarylandBlackBears.com via the Severn Bank Ticket Center.