After a disappointing weekend in Wilkes-Barre, the Black Bears are back at home and are now in crucial win territory from this point forward. Also, trying to fix the power play will need to happen, as they have no converted on their last 28 power plays. Hampus Rydqvist scored the last PPG on January 24th against this Rebels’ team. This team needs to make their own luck rather than hoping that puck luck reaches them. It’s a gut-check time for all involved if they want to make hold onto the final playoff spot, especially against teams chasing them.
TEAM MARYLAND vs. North Carolina Golden Bears
In the final regular season weekend, Team Maryland takes on the EHL whipping boy in North Carolina. The biggest thing for Team Maryland is to get in playoff form. They can’t shy away from their game plan even against a team lower in standing. If they sweep this weekend, they’ll move into fourth spot and still face the Philadelphia Little Flyers, but at home rather than on the road.
STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN at Wilkes College
After an 8-4 win thanks to a Nick Gray hat-trick, the Mustangs go to Wilkes for a two-game playoff with mini-game tactics in effect if each team takes a game. Unfortunately, Stevenson dropped both games to Wilkes, once at the start of the season and once at the beginning of February. The same offense shown against Neumann needs to carry over, while the defense needs to tighten up, as Ryan Kenny has faced a ton of shots down the stretch and showing some flaws.
STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Neumann University
Riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs, the Mustangs head up to Aston, PA to With a loss and a tie this year against the Knights, the Mustangs will hope to put that aside and make sure they make the most of this quarterfinal and make the most of their momentum. Outscoring their opponents 18-2 in the four-game win streak, the Mustangs are getting their offense going at the right time, especially for a one-and-done scenario.
A few days back, an account on Twitter popped up by the handle of @marylandjunior1 and the display name of “Maryland Junior Bears Hockey.” In their tweets, the account is showing photos and video of Piney Orchard Ice Arena and talking about the “future of hockey is here.”
I’ll go on record saying I have no insider information to this, but my belief in all of this is that the EHL Team Maryland squad is about to be rebranded as the Maryland Junior Bears. This would make sense, as there are other teams in the NAHL– specificially the Northeast Generals and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights– that have their feeder teams named exactly like their NAHL teams.
It would also make sense, as the Team Maryland EHL team has only three active players who are actually from Maryland: Marcelo Palacios, Antoino Briggs-Blake, and Zach Richards. I’ve squawked about it on the Chesapeake Hockey Week that if you’re going to go by Team Maryland, I feel that the majority of the players should be from Maryland. In talking with owner Murry Gunty– the goal is to have players from the DMV to heavily populate the roster, but so far it hasn’t been the case. To rebranded it would give a little less emphasis on the Maryland part, but actually give the Black Bears (or Bears in this case) a little more clout because the players are being promoted from the Junior Bears to the Black Bears.
Of course, this could be a whole other situation, where the Maryland Black Bears will be having a youth program that will be akin to what teams in the area have where there’s U8 to U16 programs to be going around. That’s not a far-fetched idea, but it would make ice time a little more congested for Piney Orchard, even with the second sheet of ice going up in the near future. It could be any number of things with the vagueness that’s going onward.
With all that said, the biggest thing is that highly-competitive youth hockey is going on in Maryland beyond the Chesapeake Bay Hockey League and high school hockey. In fact, with these additions to the area, you can bet that the players in the area will have closer vision of what they can achieve and the heights they are able to get to without really having to leave home for the opportunity to get noticed. It would keep the talent in region, while also making it a destination for players starting out to get a look into what their future could be like.
Until the final word– we’ll speculate, though with Team Maryland’s season ending these next two days; I’m sure we’ll find out sooner rather than later if my hypothesis is right about the rebranding.