Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 010

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (9-10-2) at JOHNSTOWN TOMAHAWKS

After a split against the top team in the NAHL, the Black Bears are off to Western PA for a blood rivalry match-up against the Tomahawks. After a wild weekend that saw Brayden Stannard get weekly honors, the Black Bears need to shake off the wildness of Saturday night’s affair and look towards keeping a winning streak against Johnstown going. It’s been a rough ride against the Tomahawks, but the biggest key is defensive support for the goaltending, which will limit the amount of playing from behind– which they often have to do against the Tomahawks.

TEAM MARYLAND (12-9-2) at PHILADELPHIA JR. FLYERS

After a sweep last week and wins in five in their last seven, TM is heading to Philly to play a team whom they’ve beaten three of the last four games this season. The consistent play of Tristan Mock and Jeff Rebmann have helped carried TM through some rough times, while the defense could play a little tighter around their goaltending; even though the Jr. Flyers are at the bottom half of the table for goals-for on the season.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (3-1-0) at MANHATTANVILLE COLLEGE and NEUMANN UNIVERSITY

The Mustangs are a bit of road warriors, winning both games away from The Plex, though they will be challenged with the travel this weekend. The team has been coming around, taking a lot of shots towards the net, though haven’t been blowing it up offensively just yet. Chad Watt’s two-goal outbreak last Sunday could be a starting point for a breakout, though the Mustangs would probably like to be better than 2-for-11 on the power play for a weekend and 6-for-22 on the season– especially when three of those goals were scored in the opening game.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS WOMEN (3-2-1) vs. ALVERNA UNIVERSITY

The Mustangs have had glimpses of both offensive and defensive dominance, but it seems to be on one weekend and off the next. Last week, they were on with 10 goals and only two against. Jordan Pirrello and Nikki Kendrick seems to be setting the pace, while Annie Smyth-Hammond has held down the fort in net. Hopefully, the ladies can continue their winning ways against the first-year program in Alverna.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (9-5-3) vs. WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY

In the last game before the semester break, as well as after the senior class got their post-graduation assignments, the Midshipmen after hoping to end it on a high note, especially as they have five wins in their last seven games. While they’re able to put shots on, they are also prone to giving up a lot of shots, which creates a lot of high-scoring games and nightmares for goaltending.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (3-14-1) at DREXEL UNIVERSITY

The Tigers were able to come away with a win last weekend, but will be pitted against a tough Drexel team, who was in the top-25 last week before getting beat by Navy. The upside is that the Tigers were able to get scoring spread around from their victory, which should help as they go down the stretch into the end of the semester and season.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (3-6-2) vs. DREXEL UNIVERSITY

The Terps will end their semester with a match-up against a Drexel team that’s winless on the road, meaning it should be a solid time for some confidence building at home. Chris Bouchard and Liam Eden have been great, but for sustainable success, more of the team would need to step up for a strong second-half.

DVCHC EAST COAST SHOWDOWN

In this special Showcase for women’s club hockey the University of Maryland Terrapins (7-3-0), Loyola University of Maryland Greyhounds (4-2-0), and Towson University Tigers (1-6-0) will play three games a piece while also trying to recruit for future generations. The Terps will take on University of Pennsylvania, Towson, and SUNY-Oswego, while Loyola will take on Mercyhurst University, University of Pennsylvania, and Towson; with Towson taking on California University, Maryland, and Loyola. A great event for more exposure for the women’s game at the college club level with games to show the game and seminars from the coaches to get the girls a little bit of a head-start in their careers.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 009: Men’s Edition

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (8-9-2) at NEW JERSEY TITANS

After three hard fought games last weekend, the Black Bears are on the road to New Jersey to take on the league-leading New Jersey Titans. Not only will offense be key for the Black Bears, but keeping the puck out of the net will be critical, as well. That aspect has gotten better as the season has gone on; but it will need to be on full display against an offensive powerhouse like the Titans. Another big thing will be the transition game and how they’ll be able to find a weakness in the armor of the Titans.

TEAM MARYLAND (10-9-2) at CONNECTICUT ROUGHRIDERS

The EHL Showcase this past weekend didn’t bode well results-wise, but Team Maryland is back to divisional play this weekend in Connecticut. These two met opening weekend and split a series in which Jay de Ruiter broke out in a big way. We’ll see how Team Maryland can reset after last weekend, as they start on a road trip that won’t see them play at home again until January 10th.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (2-0-0) vs. WILKES UNIVERSITY, at SUNY-MORRISVILLE

So far, so good for the D3 Stangs, as they now face their first weekend of two games. Nick Gray, Ryan Patrick, and Austin Master played great last weekend against Chatham and look like they will be the catalyst for offensive output. Dylan Schoen has been solid in net, but with plenty of help in front him to help limit the shots and rebounds in the zone.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (7-5-1-2) vs. DREXEL UNIVERSITY, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

Following a tough road loss, the Middies will be back home to hopefully gain a bit of moxie back. One of the big things for the Middies will be holding onto a lead, something they couldn’t do last weekend when up by two and allowed six unanswered goals. Trying to keep the puck away from their own net seems to be another cause of concern, though it is often cancelled out by their own goal-scoring prowess. They, however, can’t keep getting into track meets with teams week in and week out; as that will definitely wear them out more than necessary.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (2-13-1) vs. VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY-BERKS

Another tough weekend for Towson, as they went on the road and dropped two games. It doesn’t help that they’re giving up 50 shots a game or that scoring outside of Ryan Dieter seems to have dried up. The past few seasons have been rough ones in rebuilding a one solid club team, but once they can find a way to right the ship– it shan’t be all doom and gloom in Towson.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (7-6-0) at PENN STATE UNIVERSITY, vs. DELAWARE

After a very hot start, the Club Stangs have seemed to have cooled a bit. As they face tougher teams, the team will adapt and learn how to play against them and respect them, but not fear them. With scoring coming from various sources, they just need to maybe sure up the defense a bit; as well as get some support to the netminders and they should be ready to take on the big gun– which are two teams they’ll see this weekend.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS D2 (2-6-2) vs. JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY, at GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY

The Terps face a fate much like the Towson Tigers, where scoring comes from some usual suspects and not much elsewhere from that. If teams shut down Christopher Bouchard and Liam Eden, the Terps seem to be a little shallow in scoring. They seem to get saves here and there, but saves at key times doesn’t seem to be happen as frequently now as it did early in the year.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 007: Men’s Edition

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (5-7-0) vs. WILKES/BARRE SCRANTON KNIGHTS

Last Week: The Black Bears were able to get two points on the weekend and their first win in Jamestown as a franchise on Friday. Not only that, but they had probably the most complete period in franchise history with their second period of Friday’s game.

What To Look For: While the split was nice, they’ll take a bitter loss on Saturday to heart and take on the Knights head-on. The biggest thing is that this is a team they swept about a month ago and with three losses in their last four games, the Black Bears will be hungry for a bounce-back weekend to get back to the .500 mark.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (4-4-1) at LEHIGH UNIVERSITY MOUNTAIN HAWKS and WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY PIONNERS

Last Week: Two tough losses to Rhode Island set the Middies back a little bit, though Charles Doherty made 76 saves over the weekend, getting tested early and often.

What To Look For: Two decent tests this weekend, as they’ll travel to a Lehigh team that only has a two-goal differential, proving they’re going to play the Middies very tough. The second night will be as tough, against a WPU team that has gotten out of the gates fast and putting up almost five goals a game. The offense will need to show up this weekend, while Doherty might need to be hot again from last weekend.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (2-4-0) at GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY COLONIALS

Last Week: A one-and-done weekend for the D2 Mids, as they lost to Virginia Tech 7-3. Skippy Sheldon had 46 saves and Kevin Harris stayed up in the points with two assists of his own.

What To Look For: It’s hard to gauge since GWU doesn’t give much info for their team, but the biggest point has to be the team actually needing to provide some support for the defense. Harris will need a little help, though Tom McGowan has brought his game up in the last few match-ups.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (6-1-0) vs. DREXEL UNIVERSITY DRAGONS and GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY PATRIOTS

Last Week: Two HUGE home wins, as the Green Horses keep rolling along. A 5-2 win over NC State, while they game back from down 5-2 to beat Penn State 6-5 in a shootout. The Mustangs are undefeated at home.

What To Look For: It’ll be interesting to see how long this home streak can continue, though this team is only one win away from matching their franchise wins record (yeah, it’s a third year program, but still). That said, they fire-power of this team is unreal, as well with a hand-full of them averaging a point-per-game.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-8-1) vs. RIT TIGERS

Last Week: The Tigers have been getting better, but they lost tight games during their home-and-home against Temple. Goal scoring did include Ryan Dieter, though there seems to be more guys starting to help producing for the Tigers.

What To Look For: In the battle of the Tigers, it will quite the test of Towson, especially with Jake Snyder getting a lot of rubber again this year. However, the biggest hurdle is the fact they only have 18 goals-for in 10 games. Towson will really need to pick things up and start with RIT.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (2-2-2) vs. UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE BLUE HENS and ROWAN UNIVERSITY PROFS

Last Week: The Terps played two games and we only know the result of one– losing to Penn State 5-2 on Friday.

What To Look For: The Terps have been on a bit of a skid, though the games have been close. It would have been hard to keep the torrid pace they set from the start of the season; but it’s not like it’s all been silent. Defense will be the biggest thing in order to keep the puck out of the net.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 006

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (4-6-0) at JAMESTOWN REBELS

Last Week: It was a tough weekend at home, as the Black Bears got swept by the Johnstown Tomahawks. Old Black Bears Quinn Warmuth and David Tomeo came in and made themselves at home like they never met, with Tomeo winning weekly honors. Two goals from the Black Bears came from Wilmer Skoog and Kyle Oleksiuk.

What To Look For: Jamestown wasn’t kind to the Black Bears last year, but with a different squad with a bitter taste in their mouth from last weekend should be able to fuel the Black Bears. The one thing is the special teams, especially on the power play, where there has been plenty of chances; but with little to show on the scoresheet. The penalties are also something that need to be limited, as the PK is at 71.4% on the season.

TEAM MARYLAND (6-6-2) vs. PHILADELPHIA JR. FLYERS

Last Week: It was a long week for Team Maryland, going 1-2-1 in the week with trips seeing the Philly Little Flyers and taking part in another EHL Showcase against Seahawks HC and the New Hampshire Avalanche. Tristan Mock, a newly minted EHL All-Star, had four goals and three assists and Denys Arkhypenko had four goals and four assists on the week.

What To Look For: Maybe some home cooking will help Team Maryland, as they return home to play for the first time in almost a month. The last team they played at home were these Jr. Flyers and they swept them in that series. As they go through teams again, you can expect some adjustment on both sides, but I believe the coaching staff knows the right ways to adjust to keep the opposition on their toes.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-7-0) at/vs. TEMPLE UNIVERSITY OWLS

Last Week: The first win of the season for Towson occurred, though they split the weekend with Cleary University. And upside was that Towson kept the shot total under 40 for both games, as well as getting offense from Matt Curtin and Nate Dailey to take some pressure off Ryan Dieter (who still had five points on the weekend) and Costa Pizanis.

What To Look For: Temple is a very offensive heavy team, so the defense will need to be as sharp as they were last week to keep Jake Snyder and Kevin Mackey protected in the pipes. Towson also will have to win on the road, something they haven’t done in five games on the road so far, which is a hurdle they’ll need to get over to be successful this year.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (4-3-1) at UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND RAMS

Last Week: The Middies swept the weekend with a 3-1 win over the College of New Jersey and 8-2 win against Penn State-Berks. Nate Hyden had two goals and three assists, brother Conner Hyden had four assists, Joe Kelly had two goals and three assists, while Casey McCormick (34 saves) and Charles Doherty (29 saves) held down the fort in net.

What To Look For: URI is a balanced team with their .500 record and almost identical goals-for and against. The Middies seem to be getting their goal scoring going again, something we saw a lot of last season. With Navy getting goal scoring from all over the place– like last week where eight different players scored– the team seems to be hitting their groove offensively.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (2-3-0) at VIRGINIA TECH UNIVERSITY HOKIES

Last Week: It was a tough one for the Middies, as Xavier came in and took the team to school with 12-2 and 9-1 wins. Tom McGowan and Kevin Harris (2) had the goals on the weekend.

What To Look For: The Middies will need to be much better defensively, especially against a Hokies’ team that has just under four-goals-a-game right now. The offense for Navy needs a kick in the butt, as they’ve only score 11 times in their five games, which won’t do much to support Skippy Sheldon and Nick Gordon in net.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (4-1-0) vs. NC STATE WOLF PACK and PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

Last Week: The Green Horses had their first loss of the season as they went up to New Jersey and lost a tough one to Rider University despite Pierce Dushenko’s 45 saves in net. Brandon Scholze and Val Ramage had the goals.

What To Look For: NC State is averaging six goals a game, so the stingy defense for Stevenson will need to be in top form against the Wolf Pack. Penn State will be coming in after a game against the Terps the night before and then will play them again the night after. It’ll be crucial for the Mustangs to get on top of the Nittany Lions early and often to wear them out.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (2-0-2) vs. PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS

Last Week: The Terps were in Virginia for the ACCHL Virginia Invitational, as they lost in OT to Virginia and Virginia Tech, with their game against James Madison having no scoresheet attached. Andrew Amick had three goals in the two games, while David Ely had two.

What To Look For: These games will be spread over three nights, with a game Friday and the second on Sunday. Maryland will need to take advantage of the tired Penn State team Sunday, as I noted they play Stevenson on Saturday. With goals coming from players other than Evan Yamaguchi and Liam Eden, it helps Maryland’s cause going forward with their depth.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN (3-1-0) at MONTCLAIR STATE RED HAWKS

Last Week: The Lady Terps beat the other two Maryland teams in the DVCHC, beating Loyola 7-5 and Towson 12-0. Alix McKillop had seven goals and four assists in two games, Eleanor VanVranken had two goals and five assists, and Angeline King had four goals and an assist.

What To Look For: In only a one-game weekend, the Terps will try to keep imposing their will against the winless Red Hawks. McKillop and VanVranken seem to be on a role, but even if they do get neutralized; King, Amanda Schweitzer, and Laura Zheng have the ability to pick up the offensive slack.

Clutch N’ Crab Preview: NAHL Showcase Edition

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

It’s the time of year where Blaine, Minnesota becomes the mecca for hockey, even if only for a weekend. All 26 NAHL teams will be in action across four days in a clash of divisions that’ll stay that way until the Robertson Cup Final Four.

Last year, the Maryland Black Bears got their first win in franchise history against the Springfield Jr. Blues and went 2-1-1 in their four games. They’ll be heading back to the Schwan Super Rink to get their first win of the season

Last Weekend: It was one of firewagon hockey against the New Jersey Titans, as they got outscored 15-10 over the two games, with Wilmer Skoog proving to be a great off-season pick-up for the Black Bears, as well as putting himself 2nd in league scoring after the first weekend. While the Titans had their top guns on full display, the Black Bears held their ground as much as they could and if not for the second period in each game– it could have been a different outcome for the team. The defense was able to pick-up some offense, as well, with two goals and nine assists coming from the blue line, Aidan McDowell and Bryden Sinclair leading the way with a goal and three assists a piece.

This Weekend: The Black Bears will face a three teams from the Midwest Division and one from the Central Division. They’ll start off with the Minnesota Magicians being first, a team that finished second in the Midwest and lost in the division finals. On Thursday, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs will be the opponent, the league runners-up from last season and one of five teams to score over 200 goals on the season. Friday has the Janesville Jets, who got the last spot in the Midwest playoff run, as they lost to Fairbanks in the first round. Finally on Saturday morning, the Minot Minotauros– Skoog’s last team and 2nd in the regular season in the Central Division in 2018-19 before losing in the division finals.

What To Look For: Obviously, the biggest thing is to see how the Black Bears play in the second period. Giving up eight goals in the second frame, including five in Saturday’s game, is not a good look and something that the team needs to buckle down on. Also, how sustainable is the offense for Maryland and what other players can breakout to compliment Skoog’s offensive touch; which we’ve seen some glimpses from Brayden Stannard, Jackson Sterrett, and Ethan Heidepriem; not to mention Luke Mountain– who had two assists this past weekend and is trying to build off his great second half last season.

Bold Prediction: I expect the Black Bears to get at least two wins, like last season; but I fully expect them to be a bit more stingy on defense. Defensive zone coverage plagued the team last year and a little bit of that showed last weekend. Both Andrew Takacs and Gavin Abric will be tested and hopefully they can get some more support with the first weekend jitters out of the way.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 001

This is a new thing to bring you a preview of the teams we cover on Chesapeake Hockey Week. The weekly review will be on there, but you can get the bigger previews on here in the written word.

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (0-0-0, T-1st in East Division) VS. NEW JERSEY TITANS (0-0-0, T-1st in East Division)

Last Weekend: It was an exhibition weekend for the Black Bears, as they took on the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms and the Titans. They lost both match-ups, but showed plenty of upside on their game– especially from newcomer Wilmer Skoog, who was acquired from Minot this summer. Luke Mountain also looked to build off his solid second-half of the season with a spirited fight against Youngstown. Against New Jersey, local product Finn McLain and returning defenseman Logan Kons got the goals in the loss.

What To Look For: One of the biggest things to see is how comfortable the team will look in a regular season game. Practice can only do so much and with only two exhibition games; it’s hard to tell which guys will click with each other on the ice. On top of that, the defense was a big concern towards the end of last year, but with the additions of Bryden Sinclair, Jack Hillman, and Hampus Rydqvist; the skill on the blue line has went up immensely from what we last saw. Another point to watch for is the power play– as it only worked at 12.8% last season. With more skilled added to the team, it will be interesting to see how much they improve off of last year’s trouble spot. Finally, it’s Andrew Takacs’ crease this year, as he looks to be the rock between the pipes in his first full season as starter.

Bold Prediction: It’s easy to be a homer and say the Black Bears will sweep. I won’t be that homer…yet. I fully expect a split at home for the Black Bears, while I can definitely see Skoog being a major offensive factor in the games. The Black Bears will take Friday’s game trying to make up for the loss last weekend and while feeding off the great crowd at The Den, but I think they may come up just short on Saturday’s game after an emotional opening night.

Photo via @NavyHockey

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (0-0-0) at WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY MOUNTAINEERS (0-0-0)

Last Season: The Midshipmen went 25-6-1(SOW)-3 last season and ended up one game short of winning the conference title, but lost out to West Chester University. Despite a strong record, many thought Navy had a lesser schedule than most and that’s what held them back from getting a sniff at the ACHA National Championships with an at-large bid. However, they won the Crab Pot Tournament, which might have been a little consolation.

What To Look For: The Middies had a high powered offense last season, which they hope to continue into this season; but they also gave up a ton of goals, as well. One of the keys for Navy will to balance the scoring a defense, while helping out their goaltending every once and a while. We’ll have to see where this weekend takes them and what it could prove against a Mountaineers team, who Navy defeated 7-2 in their only match-up last last year.

Bold Prediction: Navy got off to a solid start last season against Slippery Rock, sweeping those games– which is why I think they’ll sweep West Virginia. Starting off the season out west seems to do the Middies very well.

Photo via @UMCP_Hockey

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (0-0-0) vs. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY HOYAS (0-0-0)

Last Season: The Terps were on and off our radar, as the record keeping was shotty at best. Finishin 8-13-1, the Terps are looking to rebound from a down season. However, they did have two MACH all-stars on their squad in forwards Chris Bouchard and Evan Yamaguchi.

What To Look For: After some tough matches last year, the defense could be the main focus for the Terps; who could run into some big trouble against some high-offensive teams in their schedule, like Liberty University, Drexel University, and University of Delaware. Georgetown will be a great team, as they are a balanced team, but will be enough for the Terps to start their lockdown approach.

Bold Prediction: With three weeks between games, the Terps should go out there and really leave it out on the ice to make an impression in their first game. Though Georgetown had a better record last season, Maryland took the season series sweep with two wins at the beginning and end of the season.

Photo via @TeamMarylandEHL

TEAM MARYLAND (1-1-0) vs. PHILADELPHIA REVOLUTION (0-1-0)

Last Week: Well, it was earlier this week, but Team Maryland split with the Connecticut Roughriders, dropping the first game 7-5, but taking the second 5-4. This is a much better offensive Team Maryland team from last year, as Jamie de Ruiter had FIVE GOALS in two games, including four of Team Maryland’s five in game one– two of which were short-handed.

What To Look For: Team Maryland will be facing their former goalie in Anthony Del Tufo in at least one of the games. We’ll have to see how Del Tufo can track Team Maryland’s shot– while Team Maryland needs to limit the shots against, as Connecticut had 78 shots in two games. The defense will need to be much tighter as the season rolls along.

Bold Prediction: Team Maryland will be able to fend off Del Tufo and take at least one of two on Sunday and Monday– with my bet being on the Sunday game, while both teams will be trying to wake up for a 10:30 am Monday morning start time– but the Revolution could very well come out on top.

Black Bears II: Electric Boogaloo: 2019-20 NAHL Schedule Released

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

Tuesday evening, the NAHL released the schedule for the 2019-20 season, which means we can all start figuring out when Scotty is going to get home to see the Maryland Black Bears play in his old arena. There will be 60 regular season games, including the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota– and it’ll be a time for the Black Bears to see if they can not fall into a sophomore slump and make a big push in the East Division.

Puck drop for the Black Bears is at home on September 13th, as the New Jersey Titans will be at The Den at Piney Orchard for the two-game weekend set; which is the exact same match-up to open up the season last year. The Black Bears went 3-8-1 last season against the Titans, but played them tight with the exceptions of the first and last games of the year against them.

Maryland will play three-game weekends twice in the new season, first against the Northeast Generals November 8th through the 10th, while they’ll make their first trip up to Lewiston, Maine to take on the Nordiques December 13th through the 15th. The Black Bears will only see the Nordiques twice next season, with Maine traveling to Piney Orchard February 14th and 15th for a Valentine’s Day weekend of fun.

Of course, with Maine being the new team in town and travel being hell (about 550 miles between the two rinks), that’s seems to be the only reason why there isn’t more than two meetings between these teams. The Black Bears will get their fair share of their normal foes in Johnstown, Jamestown, Northeast, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, and New Jersey in a push to make their first post-season appearance.

It should also be noted that the NAHL Showcase is not put into the schedule yet, but that will happen September 18th through 21st at the Schwan Super Rink. This will be the only time before the Robertson Cup Final Four that the Black Bears will play outside of their division.

Bruich Leads Drafted Group of Black Bears for 2019

Another NAHL Draft has come and gone and the Maryland Black Bears come out of it like every other team– with plenty of promise and upside to be had. With eight forwards, three defensemen, and two goalies picked, the Black Bears look ahead with a nice mix of youth and experience to their selections.

However, their first pick at fourth overall could be a solid cornerstone for the team next season, as power forward Aden Bruich got selected out of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite 16U organization. Only just turning 17 in March, the 6’3, 220 power forward could be what the Black Bears need in terms of grit and grind to counterbalance scoring. The Clarkson University commit put up 28 goals and 43 points across the Tier-1 Elite League and 16U Midgets. If he can get his size to translate into the NAHL style of play, it could be a huge boost to the scoring of the Black Bears. Even in his Twitter old Twitter bio he said he plays a North/South, heavy, physical game. Coming off a National Championship doesn’t hurt either.

Here’s how the rest of the Draft shook down:

3rd Round: Hampus Rydqvist (Frolunda 20U) 7g, 15pts in 44 games
3rd Round: Zachary Borgiel (Leamington, GOJHL) 2.25 GAA, .924 Sv% in 28gms
4th Round: Aidan McDowell (The Hun School, USHS-Prep) 12g, 27pts in 23 gms
5th Round: Samuel Mojzis (HC Slovan Bratislava 20U) 29g, 53pts in 45 gms
6th Round: Liam Ovington (NJ Avalanche 18U, T1EHL) 4g, 10pts in 27gms
7th Round: Brayden Stannard (Oakland 16U) 15g, 44pts in 69 gms
8th Round: Andrew Remer (Ottawa, CCHL) 8g, 25pts in 57 gms
9th Round: Philip Ekberg (Conneicut, NCDC) 14g, 31pts in 50gms
10th Round: Jack Quinn (Northfield-Mount Hermon, USHS-Prep) 19g, 41pts in 40gms
11th Round: Trevor Adams (Salmon Arm, BCHL) 17g, 41pts in 55gms
12th Round: Kyle Peters (Virtua 18U, AYHL) 8g, 26pts in 21gms
13th Round: Aaron Dickstein (Milwaukee, NA3HL) 2.93 GAA, .905 Sv% in 44gms

A couple of things to note from this draft:

-Hampus Rydqvist and Aaron Dickstein are 20 years old this year, making it their last year to be eligible to play. We’ll see if they make the team out of camp; which I think Rydqvist would be a better bet to make it as a right-shot defenseman with higher level experience. Dickstein will have to fight Anthony Del Tufo, Andrew Takacs, and maybe David Tomeo to get some crease time– same goes for Borgiel, though Borgiel does have some NAHL experience with Brookings (now St. Cloud) and Muskegon in 2017-18.

-Along with Bruich, there are two other D1 commits picked in this draft. Brayden Stannard is commit to Nebraska-Omaha and Trevor Adams is a commit to Air Force. Stannard was also picked by the Green Bay Gamblers late in the USHL Draft this off-season.

-Aiden McDowell is an alum of the Mercer Chiefs system, one of the Black Bears affiliated teams. With 29 points in 24 games last year in the 18U program, his scoring touch could prove valuable with the big club this coming season.

It was a solid draft from GM Clint Mylymok and AGM Jason Deskins. We’ll see what the future hold for these players, as open camp for the Black Bears starts in less than two weeks (June 14th) with main camp being held July 17th, all at the Den at Piney Orchard.

Black Bears Gearing Up for Second Draft

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

It’s been a minute since we talked about the Maryland Black Bears here, but it’s a good time. This afternoon is the NAHL Draft, which means the season starts anew and we’re all at a clean slate. With a new assistant GM and head scout Jason Deskins , head coach and GM Clint Mylymok and the Black Bears look to be much more prepared for this draft than they were a year ago when they we’re a very fresh team.

There have been changes, however, from this team last season. Luke Mountain was selected in Phase II of the USHL Draft by the Lincoln Stars and if he carried over his hot streak from the end of last season, then he’ll be up in the USHL next year. Also, Luc Salem was traded to the Topeka Pilots for a tender contract. Salem had 21 points in 54 games and was relied on heavily after Quinn Warmuth was traded to Minot.

Speaking of tender contracts, all the slots in Maryland are full and here’s who’s got them:

G: Andrew Takacs
G: Ben Fritsinger
D: Anthony Mollica
D: Jack Hillman
D: Bryden Sinclair
D: Nick Hauck
F: Jude Kurtas
F: Bobby Batten
F: Reid Leibold
F: Finn McLain
F: Logan Kittleson
F: Brett Reed
F: Joey Petronack
F: Ethan Heidepriem

Many should be familiar with Takacs, Kurtas, and Batten– as they did play in some games with the Black Bears; so people know what to expect out of them. The Minnesota pipeline continues with Reed, Kittleson, Fritsinger, and Hauck; while McLain has DMV roots growing up in Woodbridge, VA; with some Canadian flair in Sinclair and Heidepriem. Should be interesting to see how they all fit into the team this coming season– especially Hillman, who has USHL experience from last season with the Omaha Lancers. Hillman looks like a stay-at-home defenseman, which is something that could be nice for the Black Bears when shoring up the Black Bears end.

Last season’s draft was the first for the Black Bears and they did have some solid pick-ups from the draft who contributed with the team last season. Seven draft picks from last season played at least a game for the Black Bears, with Kobe Keller playing the least at three games before going back to Ontario to play for the Soo Eagles. Keller, Mountain, Salem, Marek Wazny, Thomas Jarman, Patrick Choi, and Max Borst all made an impact coming out of that first draft, which helped with it being a young team and a team looking for players to step up right off the hop.

The Black Bears will slot in at the 4th spot overall this year, as the two expansion teams in Maine and New Mexico will pick first and second respectively, while the Brook–errrr… St. Cloud Blizzard will pick third. The fourth pick has yielded some solid picks, but also very risky ones. In 2018, Chippewa picked defenseman Sam Miller– but he played in the USHL all of 2018-19; in 2017, Amarillo picked Marko Sturma, who was then moved to Northeast and has tandemed with David Fessenden in his last two seasons. Defenseman Frank Sullivan was picked in the four-spot in 2016 and played one year with Janesville before going to D3 college, while in 2015 Casey Jerry was picked by Minnesota after time with Cedar Rapids in the USHL and some time in Austin in the NAHL, as Jerry then moved to Canisius for his college hockey. To wrap up a five-year plan, the 2014 fourth pick was Kenny Hausinger– who was a part of the Skipjacks HC team who played out of Piney Orchard– but Hausinger wouldn’t play for Odessa, as he would go to the USHL.

There’s some room to have a stellar player at the fourth-spot or someone who goes elsewhere in the league or up to the USHL overall. It’s a tough spot to be in, as the Black Bears know from their first overall pick in Steve Agriogianis never suiting up for the team and moving to the USHL with Lincoln. We’ll see what the afternoon brings and hope we’ll get a solid pack of Black Bears coming into next season.

Black Bears Season in Review: My Three Wishes for 2019-20

Photo: Jon Pitonzo/ FOHS Media Faction

As it goes, a new season is going to be upon us sooner than we think. The biggest question is how can the Black Bears improve on this past season?? Off the ice, it’s really just keeping the name out there and getting the community as involved, if not more involved that last season. On the ice, however, there could be some interesting things ahead. The core of players the team may want to build around is there– it’s a matter of putting them in a place to succeed that’ll be the task. Couple that with some possible system changes, it could be an interesting look to the Black Bears next year.

This, however, is if I had a magic lamp and was granted three wishes– what I would like to see happen for next season for the Black Bears. It’s not really in any order, either, so you can prioritize them as you see fit.

SPECIAL TEAMS IMPROVEMENT: This should be an obvious one and it’s one that’s almost unfairly harped on, but best to get it out of the way early. The Black Bears had the second most power play opportunities last season (288, only one shy of Johnstown) and yet they were 22nd in the league with a 12.8% efficiency despite having 37 goals with the extra-man. It seemed many times, the power play couldn’t adjust to the tight-check PKs they faced. When they were able to move the puck around– they were a second or two too late to get a good shot off. Once they can nail down a quarterback on the point to pace the play and direct traffic, this will be a better system.

On the penalty kill, the Black Bears had the most times shorthanded at 303, which was 47 more the next highest team. So, first discipline needs to come into account– but that’s another story altogether. Maryland also let up the most power play goals (81) while– to no surprise– ranked last in the league on the PK (73.3% kill rate). It’s as simple as not taking as many penalties, though you can’t really tell what the refs will call in a given situation. To that point, the team needs to not run so much on the PK. Many times you’d have guys running around, out of position from the quick passing, and it leads to guys getting open and scoring. It seems like an easy task, but it does require some work and dedication to the system.

BULKING THE BLUE LINE: Towards the end of the season, the Black Bears only had four natural defensemen rostered for games thanks to injuries. Which seeing guys like George Vonakis and Jude Kurtas up on the team is great for the offensive creation, the lack of defenseman who were brought up for the season is a bit of a head scratcher. This season, the team had ten defensemen of the listed 46 players. That includes Quinn Warmuth (who was traded), Cameron Teamor (who was released), and Colt Corpse (who went back to prep school). So seven guys from the trade deadline on and they were real beat up with Thomas Jarman, Bradley Jenion, and Sean Henry missing time due to bangs and bruises. It should be noted that the team had six goalies through the season.

Defensive call-ups should be a priority after this season, especially with the -103 goal differential the team had this season. When you’re throwing forwards back a defenseman as a fifth defenseman, it’s a rough time. To have only five defensemen in a game– that’s a very rough time. As much as I love having the scorers on the team, the back of the house needs to be taken care of, as well. The tender of Nick Hauck steer it in the right direction, but it is still to be seen.

DEFINITE FIRST LINE: With injuries and all of that, it didn’t seem like there was any constant first scoring line presence. Connor Pooley was a constant with the first line center, but the parts around him always seemed to move and couldn’t get much figured out in ways of offense. The dynamics of a first line is in the roster, but didn’t really seem to get figure out until late and even then, didn’t spark too, too much to change things.

In a perfect world, Jonathan Young stays to reconnect with linemates of Kurtas and Luke Mountain because the synergy and chemistry they had in the last couple weekends was fantastic. Short of that, if Daylon Mannon can come back, he can slot into the Young spot and add another scorer on that line with Mountain having Kurtas the set-up man between the two. Of course, you have to have some kind of second line system to protect that first line so if they’re shutdown, the rest of the team isn’t lost. In that end, have Vonakis between perhaps Bobby Batten and Luke Posner for that secondary scoring.

Those are the three wishes I hope for in the coming season. Of course, it’s not up to me to determine if they are right or not– that’s GM/head coach Clint Mylymok’s decision to what’s best for his group of players moving forward. The biggest thing is that there is some kind of growth– personal or otherwise– from this team. They don’t need to make it to Robertson Cup finals, but to see them improving would be a great happening, even if it’s just being in the playoff hunt late into the season.