On Wednesday, the Maryland Black Bears further their push to keep the best players from Maryland in Maryland, as well as bringing in an outside source to help keep their pipeline strong. The Black Bears announced they have formed a partnership with Team Maryland in their Eastern Hockey League and AAA programs, as well was a partnership with the Mercer (NJ) Chiefs.
It’s almost a no-brainer that Team Maryland and the Black Bears would have a partnership, as the brass of Team Maryland was a big pusher when it came to talk to Black Bear Sports Group about bringing in a high-level junior league to the Maryland area. This working partnership will allow the Black Bears to display Maryland-grown talent, while also give incentive for kids to play on the Team Maryland squads– as if there wasn’t one prior.
Despite being in New Jersey, the Mercer Chiefs are also connected, as the Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton Township, NJ is one of the arenas that Black Bear Sports Group has under their umbrella. The Chiefs program runs from the Squirt Minor level to the U18 AAA level, which having this not only gives another region to pick from in the Mid-Atlantic, but also gives the younger players something to strive for as they advance in hockey.
The one thing that the Black Bears and this ownership group is doing is creating a bit of a family atmosphere to this team. While some might think it’s a little too much of staying inside the bubble, the fact they’re trying to make the most of their investments not only in Maryland– but with all their holdings.
If their alumni is anything, the pipeline is strong with Team Maryland. Sam Anas (Iowa Wild), Mikie Chen (Knoxville Ice Bears), William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Nick Sorkin (Wheeling Nailers) all came up through the Team Maryland system at one point or another, but had to move elsewhere to get bigger exposure than they had. With the NAHL now putting stakes in the ground– odds are a lot of the next class of players will not need to go far in order to get the exposure others had to leave home to get.