The seats were filled at Piney Orchard Ice Arena to witness the first game of the 2019-20 North American Hockey League season for the Maryland Black Bears against its East Division foe, the New Jersey Titans. It was a hard-fought contest that ended in a 7-5 New Jersey win.
Maryland started the scoring first, with defender Bryden Sinclair chipping a rebound in over Titans goalie Arseni Sergeev to make it 1-0. Matt Cameron responded for New Jersey as he tapped in a shot from the slot to tie the game. Aidan McDowell regained the lead for the Black Bears on a goal that saw him skate end to end with a backhand finish. The Titans tied it up once again with Ole Andersen shooting the puck top right corner to make it 2-2.
The second period saw a dream dwindle to a nightmare finish. The Black Bears struck twice with Jackson Sterrett and Jude Kurtas scoring to make it 4-2 Maryland. New Jersey then elected to switch goaltenders, replacing Sergeev with Patrick Pugliese. The switch sparked the Titans, with two goals from Michael Outzen and one goal from Kyle Jeffers. New Jersey held the 5-4 lead into the third.
Kyle Jeffers picked up where they left off in the third, scoring on a two-on-one to make it 6-4. Wilmar Skoog responded with his first goal as a Black Bear, scoring on a rebound to make it 7-5. Kyler Head capped off the scoring with a shot top left corner past Maryland goalie Andrew Takacs. Takacs finished with 24 saves on 31 shots for the Black Bears, while Pugliese picked up the win by making 12 of 13 saves in his short appearance for New Jersey.
Maryland will take on New Jersey for round two on Saturday at 7:45 PM ET at Piney Orchard Ice Arena.