The Maryland Black Bears lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the WBS Knights 5-4 Saturday afternoon. Following a disappointing loss against the Knights Friday night, the Black Bears responded Saturday by showing tremendous energy, fire, and heart. The Black Bears left it all on the ice for their season finale.
In the first period, the Knights got on the board first with a strike from Forward Jake Fuss. Battling for a response, Max Borst scored a short-handed goal with an assist from Captain Connor Pooley to get the Black Bears on the board. Moments later, Lukas Ljungblom scored with an assist from Max Borst and Marek Wazny giving the Black Bears the lead after the first twenty minutes.
After two unanswered goals from the Black Bears, the Knights were determined to fight back with an offensive onslaught of their own. The Black Bears were outshot in the second period 21 to 5. Black Bears Goalie David Tomeo made some impressive saves, but was only able to stop 19 of the 21 shots on goal. In an attempt to shift momentum, Black Bears Forward Nick Grimaldi dropped the gloves against Evan Orr of the Knights. The two goals in the second period by the Knights resulted in a 3-2 lead for the playoff hopefuls going into the third period.
The third period started off with another goal from Jake Fuss of the Knights. Facing a two-goal deficient early in the period, the Black Bears mounted a comeback. Black Bears Forward Marek Wazny started the comeback by finding the back of the net with assists from Luke Posner and Luc Salem. Running out of time, the Black Bears pulled Tomeo with a little over two minutes left to give them a six to five man advantage. In dramatic fashion, the equalizer was found on a Luke Mountain goal that was perfectly set up by Jonathan Young and Luc Salem.
Overtime started with a two-minute power play for the Black Bears. Despite multiple scoring opportunities, the Black Bears were unable to convert. Momentum shifted after the Knights penalty kill. Shortly after the penalty kill, Jordan Strand scored on a breakaway goal to end the game.
The season finale did not disappoint. Black Bear Nation had another great showing in the stands and at times made the Ice Revolution Centre seem like the Piney Orchard Ice Arena (also known as “the Den”). The Maryland Black Bears have the best fans in the league and it showed this weekend. The Black Bears fanbase is a special one and has grown tremendously throughout the season.
For Captain Connor Pooley (Forward), Alternate Captain Karim Del Ponte (Defenseman), and Bradley Jenion (Defenseman), this was the last game they will play in a Maryland Black Bears uniform, as they have graduated from Junior Hockey. Their veteran presence and leadership will be missed.
The Maryland Black Bears finish their Inaugural Season with a 16-37-7 record. This team displayed glimpses of greatness, a true passion for the game, and great resilience. As an organization, the Maryland Black Bears will have plenty to build on from their first season in the North American Hockey League.