In the final home game of 2018, the Maryland Black Bears looked to send the fans at Piney Orchard Ice Arena home happy with its first win in franchise history over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights. However, it is the Knights who would have the last laugh, defeating the Black Bears 2-1.
Due to injuries, Maryland had two players called up from the club’s Eastern Hockey League affiliate Team Maryland. Forward Connor Redden and goaltender Anthony Del Tufo stepped up and made their NAHL debuts.
Maryland started the scoring just one minute and twelve seconds in, as Jonathan Young split through two defenders and shot the puck five hole on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Zach Stejskal to make it 1-0.
The final two goals of the game came in the last five minutes of the first period. Jacob Badal tied it for the Knights when he put the puck by Del Tufo top left side to make it 1-1. Then it was Knights’ forward Tyrone Bronte recording his third point of the series, deflecting a shot on the power play from Jordan Strand into the net to make it 2-1.
The game was a goaltending duel from then on out, as Del Tufo and Stejskal took turns making great saves. The game went down to the wire and was almost tied late by Lukas Ljungblom. But Stejskal denied him, sliding across the crease making a glove stop with 1.8 seconds left. The game ended with a 2-1 Knights win, marking the fifth consecutive loss for Maryland. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is one of two East Divsion teams the Black Bears have yet to beat, the other being the New Jersey Titans.
The Black Bears fall to 7-15-5 on the season and 2-7-1 in the last ten games. Maryland will go on the road the next few weeks, starting with a game December 8th against New Jersey. The team will return home in 2019 on Friday January 4th against the Northeast Generals.