Maryland travel to Johnstown; Split weekend series

JOHNSTOWN, PA– Making their first trip to Johnstown, the Maryland Black Bears came in riding a four-game winning streak. Taking on an old foe, the Black Bears fought and clawed all weekend long, but the tight-checking history between these two teams showed itself again, as the Black Bears would have to settle for a split in a pair of 4-3 outcomes.

OCTOBER 21st, 2022: BLACK BEARS (4) at Johnstown (3): It was not the start that the Black Bears had wanted, as they were unable to really get the puck out of their zone and create any offense, making William Hakansson a little busier than normal; but coming up pretty big in the early going. While Maryland was trying to get their gears going, Johnstown would strike first with Drake Albers finding the puck off a tipped cross-ice pass and put it behind Hakansson for the 1-0 Tomahawks lead. From that point on, Maryland took over offensively and put up seven shots in the last five minutes, but still couldn’t find the equalizer in the first.

Maryland took over control offensively again in the second and were able to keep Johnstown outside of their zone for the most part, with one big chance coming on a mini-break, but Hakansson closed the five-hole and kept the game at 1-0. Try as they might, the Black Bears still couldn’t find a way through Alec Rajalin-Scharp.

Yet, if you throw things at the net, good things happen. Trey Scott proved that as he took the puck in the neutral zone and lofted it into the Johnstown zone, on-goal, and floated over Rajalin-Scharp’s shoulder that he didn’t even see and the Black Bears knot it up at one. With the first strike, the Black Bears continued to attack. They would get their go-ahead goal just past the midway point shorthanded, as Brayden Stannard picked up the loose puck at neutral and brought a two-on-one with Dimitry Kebreau with Kebreau finishing with a ripper for his 11th of the year, giving Maryland the lead. Special teams kept buzzing, with the power play getting on the action as Brad McNeil put home his third of the year off a Kebreau shot and putting Maryland up by two. Johnstown would strike late, with the extra attacker on; Albers threw his own shot at an odd angle that banked off of Hakansson and in the net to pull Johnstown to within one with under two to go. It took all of 20 seconds for Maryland to get the two-goal lead back, as an ill-advised rebound deflection by Rajalin-Scharp found Jesse Horacek, who cycled to Adam Schankula, who cycled to Stannard, who ripped a shot high on Rajalin-Scharp for Stannard’s first goal back as a Black Bear and making it 4-2. Twenty seconds after that, however, Johnstown cut the lead again, with Zachary Aben putting in high over Hakansson to get to within one with a minute left in the game.

Maryland was able to hold off a late push, pinning the puck to the wall for the last 15 seconds, and taking game one of the road series by a score of 4-3.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 22nd, 2022: BLACK BEARS (3) at Johnstown (4): Maryland got out to a quick start, as Brayden Stannard’s speed was able to hinder Johnstown and force a high-sticking double minor. The Black Bears made short work of the first power play, as Dimitry Kebreau stayed hot, ripping one home past Matt O’Donnell for his 12th of the season. Maryland kept the hammer down and controlled the puck for the majority of the period, which then culminated in Christian Catalano getting his 11th of the year off a shovel shot thanks to a set-up from Sean Kilcullen to give the Black Bears a 2-0 lead. While he wasn’t tested much in the first, Jack Wieneke was strong between the pipes, settling down pucks when needed and settling the play down if called for it.

Johnstown got more aggressive, trying to rattle the cages of the Black Bears and create some offense in their own right. However, Maryland would be able to keep the Tomahawks at bay, keeping them to the outside and not letting them get too many quality opportunities. Maryland had plenty of chances of their own, but some penalty issues would stymie the Black Bears push. With 1:23 left in the frame, Johnstown would get on the board with Gabriel Lund scoring his first of the year as the Black Bears got caught in transition and had their lead cut in half before the end of the second frame.

The third period saw the Black Bears defense show some cracks in its armor. After holding Johnstown at bay for the first half of the period, they broke through with Will Lawrence streaking through the slot unmarked and beating Wieneke to tie the game up at two. With under five minutes to play in the period, Drake Albers puts Johnstown ahead on a tip play through traffic in front and Wienke getting bumped from behind. Less than a minute after Albers goal, Johnstown struck again; as Maryland was unable to clear the zone and Tyler Chenevert redirected a shot to make it 4-2. Try as they might, the Black Bears got to within one while shorthanded and with the goalie pulled, as Kaleb Tiessen was given a ton of time and space, which led him to rip a wrister five-hole on O’Donnell to get Maryland to within one with under 90 seconds remaining. The late push wouldn’t cash, as the Black Bears fell to Johnstown and split the weekend.

These two teams face off again next weekend, as Maryland will play host for a three-game set Friday through Sunday. To get in on the action, head to to get your seats for the entire weekend.

Write up courtesy of Scott Wasilewski of the “Defending The Den” and “Chesapeake Hockey Week” Podcasts, found on twitter: @DefendingDenMBB@ChesapeakeHWPod
Photo credits to Jon Pitonzo & Jim Harding