MIDDLETOWN, NJ– Heading into the weekend on a five-game win streak, the Maryland Black Bears went to Middletown, New Jersey to take on the defending champs on the Titans’ opening weekend. With banners raised and some gloves dropped, the Black Bears would have to leave New Jersey with a split on the weekend.
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 30th, 2022: BLACK BEARS (8) at New Jersey (4): It was banner night for the Titans, as they had their first home game of the season and raised their Robertson Cup championship banner, which created an interesting vibes for the night, one that didn’t go the Black Bears way to start with two straight penalties in under four minutes that led to two Titans power play goals, first from Anthony Calafiore and then by Michael Young, putting the Titans up by two early. Maryland would settle down and capitalize on a power play of their own, with the work around perimeter getting the Titans to chase and leaving Hunter Ramos in the slot for his fourth goal of the year off a solid dish from Christian Catalano and cutting the lead in half. Two minutes later, Adam Schankula would tie the game up grabbing the rebound off an Elliott Lareau shot for his second of the season. The Titans would go ahead with a penalty shot goal from Young over the shoulder of William Hakansson for the 3-2 New Jersey lead. The Black Bears got late power plays, with Dimitry Kebreau keeping his hot streak alive with his sixth of the season off a Gunnar VanDamme shot that found Kebreau’s blade and in the back of the net. Then, with only 3.2 seconds left, Gabriel Westling helped create a turnover and finished the job for his third of the year to give Maryland the 4-3 lead before the intermission.
The Black Bears started hot again in the second, with Ramos netting his second of the game off an alley-oop pass from Sean Kilcullen and breaking in to beat Zakari Brice for the 5-3 lead, a goal that would get Brice pulled for New Jersey. Less than a minute later, Catalano got in on the scoring, taking a Kilcullen breakout pass down and cutting in to beat Jacob Torgner for a 6-3 lead. The assists for Kilcullen gave him points 41 and 42 of his Black Bears’ career and putting him 1st all-time for points from a defenseman in team history. A late penalty from Maryland had New Jersey get a goal back from Levante Kereszetes and make it 6-4 going into the second break.
Much like usual, the Black Bears shutdown the opposition in the third period, playing smart defensive hockey and not allowing many quality chances in their own zone. They didn’t completely shut down, as they counterpunch better than most. Just after the halfway point, Catalano got his second of the game after another turnover at the blue line, as he ripped it high on Torgner for the 7-4 lead. With under five minutes left, Westling also netted his second of the game, sniping short-side on an odd-man rush to make it 8-4 and give Maryland their third win against the Titans this season.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 1st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (2) at New Jersey (6): Plenty of fireworks happened less than a minute into the game, as Ryan Novo hit a Black Bear from behind, which lead to Birch Gorman and Eric Charpentier to get into it and Gorman getting tossed from the game. Things settled down on the physical side, but offensively the Titans would strike first with Novo getting the opening goal after a solid breakout by the Titans caught Maryland a little flat-footed in transition. The Black Bears did have some chances later on in the frame, but nothing could get behind Jacob Torgner in the first.
Maryland did start the second period quick, with Christian Catalano almost having a duplicate of his goal from Friday, using his speed to break in and beat Torgner to tie the game. While Maryland got into the some penalty trouble, Dimitry Kebreau continued his hot streak, picking off a pass and taking it on his own for the shorthanded goal that pushes his goal-streak to four games and point-streak to five games. The penalties would catch up to Maryland, as New Jersey struck soon after on another play with a Brendan Dumas shot fooling Jack Wieneke and trickled over the line to tie the game at two. More punches from the Black Bears didn’t result in a goal, which with eight seconds left in the frame saw Tyler Sanborn laser a shot over Wieneke’s shoulder to make it 3-2 Titans going into the intermission.
A tight-checking third period didn’t yield many chances for either side until late in the game, but favoring the Titans. With three goals in 1:09 of game play– Michael Young on the power play, Dumas with an empty-netter, and Johnny McMahon breaking in late– the Titans were able to secure a split on the weekend and end the Black Bears six-game win streak.
Maryland now travels to Danbury to end their four-weekend road trip to take on the Jr. Hat Tricks Friday and Saturday nights.
Recap courtesy of Scott Wasilewski and the Defending The Den Podcast. @DefendingDenMBB
Photo credits to Jim Harding & Jon Pitonzo