The Maryland Black Bears and Maine Nordiques took to the ice Friday evening at Piney Orchard Ice Arena, ready to play game one of the best-of-three East Division Final series. In the first round, each team completed a first-round, three-game sweep. The Black Bears took down the Northeast Generals while the Nordiques swept the defending Robertson Cup Champions in the New Jersey Titans. Maryland and Maine previously met in the 2021 East Division Final, where Maine took the series in a three-game sweep. This time, there will be no sweep for the Nordiques, as the Black Bears rallied from a sluggish start to beat the Maine Nordiques 4-2 to take a 1-0 lead in the series.
Maine got the scoring started on a one-time slap shot from defenseman Nicholas Bernardo to make it 1-0 in a first period where Maine heavily possessed the puck. But Maryland started the second period off on the right foot, with forward Kareem El-Bashir chipping a puck past Nordiques goaltender Thomas Heaney to make it 1-1 less than a minute in. Less than three minutes later, the Black Bears took a 2-1 lead with forward Branden Piku scoring on the slap shot while on the powerplay to lift the local team to the lead. But a parade to the penalty box by Maryland saw Maine tie the game, with forward Brandan Gibbons tipping a shot into the net on the powerplay to make it 2-2.
To start the third period, Maryland once again wasted no time. Black Bears forward Dimitry Kebreau snapped the puck to the top right corner while in the slot to give Maryland a 3-2 lead. Black Bears’ defenseman Gunnar VanDamme capped off the scoring when he intercepted a pass and let a wrist shot go to the top right corner for a 4-2 lead, a score that would hold up to be the final. Maryland goaltender William Hakansson recorded his fourth consecutive win in the postseason.
The Black Bears and Nordiques will take the ice for game two on Saturday, with puck drop scheduled for 6:30 pm ET at Piney Orchard Ice Arena. All games can be streamed on HockeyTV.