JAMESTOWN, NY– To start off one of their busiest stretches, the Maryland Black Bears went to Jamestown to take on the Rebels. After a sweep earlier this season, the Black Bears and Rebels faced off in a spirited match-up Friday, with Maryland taking control on Saturday– leading to a three-point weekend for the Black Bears with a loss in extra time and win on the weekend.
FRIDAY JANUARY 21st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Jamestown (4) SO: The Black Bears got a small jump to start, trying to shake off the bus legs on the travel to Northwest New York. However, the Rebels would be the first to get on the board as John Lundy tipped a Peter Klemm shot over the shoulder of Luca Di Pasquo for the quick lead. Maryland then got sucked into penalty troubles, as they had four minors called on them in the 1st period alone. While the penalty kill did yield an Elliott Lareau chance, it gave up a goal not long after as the Rebels stretched the ice and ended with Lundy getting his second goal of the game to make it 2-0 heading into the intermission.
A feisty second period to start, as there were two fights in the first 5:09 in the frame. First, Tyler Young took on Roux Bazin and got the decision; while Brad McNeil then took on Mitch Lafay and landed a big right to get the decision there. Maryland was able to get some kind of spark off of that, as they were able to get some chances in on the Jamestown goal before they broke through midway through. Laker Aldridge got a rebound off the end-boards from a Matthew Davies shot and put it past Jon Howe to get Maryland on the board. While Maryland continued to press, Jamestown’s defense was able to hold the Black Bears out of the danger areas and frustrated the Black Bears a bit. However, a late penalty from Maryland yielded another power play goal with Jak Vaarwerk finding a loose puck that squeaked through Di Pasquo and led to a tap-in and 3-1 Rebels’ lead into the second intermission.
Most of the third period was Jamestown and Maryland keeping each other at bay with plenty of board play and tight checking. Maryland had another big chance shorthanded with Aden Bruich, but he hit the post after beating Howe. The Rebels defense continued to give Maryland fit, but with 2:30 remaining, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo and it gave some results. First, McNeil was able to notch his first goal since October 8th (21 games) by tracking the loose puck to pull the Black Bears within one. After getting the puck in the Jamestown zone, the Black Bears pulled Di Pasquo again, the Black Bears were looking for the equalizer and almost got it from McNeil, but he couldn’t beat the post. However, after a great, jumping keep by Jack Blanchett at the blue line, Lareau was able to find the puck in the slot and score from his knees to tie the game with 11.9 seconds left and give the Black Bears a point.
While overtime had a couple of good chances from both sides, it didn’t figure in the decision leading to a shootout. Branden Piku and Ryan Bottril couldn’t convert while Vaarwerk and Nolan Grier were able to, giving Jamestown the extra point and the win. Though the comeback came up short, Maryland had plenty of momentum going into Saturday night’s rematch.
SATURDAY JANUARY 22nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Jamestown (1): While the first part of the period was a bit of a 50/50 match-up, the Black Bears did seem to have more fight in them than Jamestown. Maryland was sparked by some early saves by Michael Morelli in the first, keeping it scoreless to start the game. After the midway point, the Black Bears took over, first with Aden Bruich streaking down the wing, powering towards the net, and putting it over the near shoulder of Jon Howe to get first blood. Maryland kept the pressure on, building off their goal, giving Jamestown fits. It would yield another goal, as Branden Piku put home his 16th of the year off a fantastic pass by Ryan Bottrill, as Bottrill drew the defense, giving Piku more time and space. Only 32 seconds later, Brad McNeil was able to pot his second goal in as many nights, putting home his own rebound after another power move by Bruich to draw some attention. It would be the end of Howe’s night just before the intermission.
The pressure kept on from Maryland at the start of the second, with plenty of shots on new goalie Nolan Suggs. They would break through Suggs, as on a delayed call, Piku got his second of the game, picking up a loose puck at the side of the net to make it 4-0 for the Black Bears. While Maryland kept their motor going, penalties crept back in for the Black Bears, as a two back-to-back penalties against– including a four-minute high sticking call– forced them to an extended two-man disadvantage; but they were able to hold off the Rebels attack, keeping them to the outside and not letting and top chances get to Morelli. End of the frame ended with Maryland up 4-0.
Jamestown came out on all cylinders in the third, putting Maryland on their heels a bit and drawing some penalties against Maryland. Even with that, the PK and Morelli were strong and kept the zero on the board. It wasn’t until past the midway point where Jamestown got on the board, with Max Hamstad finding the puck at the back of the net and firing a perfectly placed shot over Morelli’s shoulder to make it 4-1. The Black Bears fought back, with plenty of shots towards the Jamestown cage, while also keeping them at bay. Morelli made some solid saves and great reads with his stick, which led him to his 10th win of the season.
No rest for the wicked, as Maryland will travel to New Jersey on Tuesday to play the Titans in a one-off game, then come back home to take on the Johnstown Tomahawks in a rivalry match-up.
Credit: Scotty Wazz of The Chesapeake Hockey Week Podcast