The results on the scoreboard weren’t what they would have wanted, but overall– the first weekend of the Maryland Black Bears was ultimately a success. A sold-out Piney Orchard Ice Arena on Friday night brought about all the pomp and circumstance for a team’s first game, while the second night showed what this team could be without the flare.
Sidebar: If you haven’t seen Jonny P’s photos from the weekend– check out the FOHS Media Faction Facebook page to see his great shots of the games.
The first night brought about a packed out, a big entrance, a lot of bells and whistles, though the outcome wasn’t what they wanted. Though Marek Wazny got the Black Bears on the board early, they couldn’t find a way to stymie Kyler Head and the rest of the New Jersey Titans. It was a rough go for Black Bears’ goalie David Tomeo, who let up five goals on 35 shots in a 6-3 Maryland loss. Friday was a shootout with 76 total shots and the nine total goals. You can bet nerves and dealing with the opening game was on the mind of the Black Bears. Not only that, but the rough side of the NAHL came out, especially at the end with Carter Wade and Cam Gendron getting in a fight in the middle of the third.
Saturday night showed a different side, a very shutdown side of the Black Bears, who put Tyler Matthews in net for the second game. They kept the Titans chances to a minimum and played a smarter game, though the Titans scored their only goal on the power play in overtime.
Overall though, you probably couldn’t ask for a better start from a team that was born only five months and two days before their first game. From April until now, it was a sprint to start the season for Murry Gunty and the rest of his team. As Jonny chronicles, Gunty was working every aspect possible off the ice in merchandise, media affairs, doing a whole lot of things to make sure they ran as smoothly as possible for the fans in attendance.
While Jonny said that it was noticeable change from one day to another, it seemed that everyone started to figure out what was going on Saturday, both on and off the ice. The PA announcer was able to get the crowd more into it, the team settled down after the first game, things started to move finally as one. As the season goes along, you can bet that things will continue to run more smoothly. It seemed that the game operations during intermissions were able to get people interacting more, the kids in attendance seemed to be well involved with Bruno the Bear, and it seemed like a great atmosphere for everyone who came out.
This franchise is really going to be a word-of-mouth situation for the start. With things coming so quickly, it could have been a little hard to get out into the community as much as they could, especially when the roster wasn’t set until days before opening night. However, from what I’ve heard– it was a great time. It’s a damn shame I’m in North Dakota or I’d make my way down there to experience things myself. Plus, it seems like a fun team to watch. Wazny, Wade, and Matteo Menotti are going to be favorites and ones to watch this season. While they won’t be back at Piney for about a month, they should be able to bond well on the road, especially with the four-day NAHL Showcase happening in Blaine, Minnesota this week.
Here’s to Murry Gunty, all of Black Bear Sports Group, coach Clint Mylymok, and the Black Bears players for giving the central Maryland area a team to call their own. It’s only two games, but it’s two games that many didn’t think would have happened so fast.