Clutch and Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 023

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS vs. Johnstown Tomahawks

After a sweep against Jamestown, the Black Bears enter another crucial weekend not only for playoff contention, but for a rivalry weekend. Not only that, but it’s “Guns N’ Hoses” weekend for support local fire and police officer. These two teams don’t like each other, especially with who’s between the pipes at the other end and the tactics that were pulled last time the Tomahawks were at The Den. Some upsides is the Black Bears looked solid and will build off it and Johnstown played two games earlier this week, which could make them a team primed to beat.

Team defense will be a big deal, as it was very solid last week, limiting the Rebels to 36 shots the entire weekend and Cooper Black stopping 35 of them. That said, one thing that needs improve is the power play, which has no goals in their last 37 attempts with their last power play goal being on January 24th. Keeping the defense strong and making the power play effective will be the biggest keys for the weekend and season ahead.

TEAM MARYLAND vs. Philadelphia Little Flyers

Though it won’t start until the 9th, Team Maryland will start their playoff run after the weekend and hope to take it home. They’ll take on a team that they had a 4-2-0 record against during the season, out scoring the Little Flyers 29-21. One thing to look for from coach Josh Fusco is who will start in net– either Peter Siolas or Zach Richards, both who have had ups and downs.

With seven players in double-digits for goals, offense shouldn’t come at a premium, but it’s a matter of keeping their hot streak alive– as they come into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak. It’s a landmark time for TM and they will hopefully make the most of this during the week and beyond.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Elmira College

After a huge win against Neumann, Stevenson reaches the UCHC Final Four against the host Elmira. In their only meeting this season, Elmira took it 2-1, though Annie Smyth-Hammond played stellar with 45 saves in the loss. Smyth-Hammond was amazing against Neumann last weekend, with Nikki Kendrick and Trin Barcless leading the way scoring.

More impressive during this five-game win streak is the defense the Mustangs have played, only letting up three goals in those five wins, while scoring 20 in that same span. If the team defense can keep the solid work up, they’ll move onto the UCHC Final and maybe an automatic NCAA bid by the weekend’s end.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 vs. ECHA Playoffs

After some time off, the Mids are back at it and are at home for the ECHA Playoffs, which is something that will play well into Navy’s hands with their supporters right there at McMullen all weekend. The rest can be really great for some teams or a detriment to them, especially in a one-and-done tournament scenario. In games coming out of an off weekend for Navy this season, they were 2-1 with their only loss coming early in the season.

That said, as the season rolls and going against a team that will have played the day before– as Navy has a quarterfinal bye– the odds seem in their favor. Add to the fact they were ECHA runner-ups last season, they’ll want to get the championship and have it mean that much more to do it on home ice.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 022

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS vs. Jamestown Rebels

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.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 021

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

Every weekend is pretty much a playoff weekend for the Black Bears as they continue to fight for the last playoff spot in the East Division. This weekend, they head to WBS and maybe try to close the gap on the Knights, who are four points ahead of the Black Bears going into the weekend. After a split against Maine last weekend, the Black Bears are looking to get some kind of offense going, as they haven’t scored more than two goals per game in their last three games. With Brayden Stannard being out the last couple of weekends, the Black Bears will need others to step up should he be out again this weekend coming up. On the upside, Jackson Sterrett has been getting some puck luck recently, while Aaron Swanson has jump into a more prominent role as his tenure has gone on.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN vs. Elmira, Lebanon Valley

In the last weekend of the regular season, the Mustangs try to improve their spot in the UCHC and perhaps get as high as second in the UCHC, but will have to battle against Elmira– who is right behind the Mustangs in the standings. If nothing else, the Mustangs will use this as a dress rehearsal going forward, though their second half of the season has been a little rougher down the line, as they are 6-5-2 since the semester resumed in 2020. The upside that their conference record is strong and they beat both Elmira and Lebanon Valley on the road just one month ago.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Alvernia, Wilkes

With a 4-1-3 record in their last eight, the Mustangs head into their last weekend of the regular season and sit second in the UCHC South Division. Facing off against two teams lower in the table and two teams they’ve beaten already this year, the Mustangs have their own destiny in their hands if they want to stay in second spot. The only down side if that they are below .500 on the road this season, which could make it a little more difficult for them to get points, but this team has faced adversity this season and come out the other end fine. Here’s hoping going into playoffs, they’ll be able to use this tune-up weekend as a jumping off point for a bigger run.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 020

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS vs. Maine Nordiques

With only one win in their last 10 games, the Black Bears are in for a crucial match-up against a team creeping up on them for that fourth and final playoff spot. With the line-up set, everyone is going to have to step up in a bigger way to keep hold of that fourth spot while holding off the competition behind them. Hopefully, Brayden Stannard will be back in the line-up to add to the offensive punch of the Black Bears.

TEAM MARYLAND vs. Philadelphia Little Flyers, North Carolina Golden Bears

After plenty of goals in their split last weekend, TM has a task in the Little Flyers to start the weekend, a team they’ve already beaten three times; while they’ll have North Carolina come in for the first of three games to end the season. While these are primer games, TM shouldn’t take any of these games for granted going into the playoff season. Despite playing a weaker team in North Carolina, the pedal still needs to be to the floor to gear up for the second season.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN at Nazareth University, Utica College

After sweeping the weekend last weekend, the Mustangs will look to continue that on the road, where they have only lost one game all year. The power play clicked well last weekend, though the penalty kill did let up three goals against Neumann on Friday. With first place in the UCHC within reach, every conference point matters– especially against a team in Utica who is right behind the Mustangs in the standings

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN at Lebanon Valley College, Chatham College

After a less than desirable finish to their home schedule, the Mustangs head out on the road, where they are the opposite of the men’s side– winning only one game on the road. With only road games left, the Mustangs will need to find an extra gear in order to get over those road woes, and bring home at least one victory out of this trip to stay up in the playoff conversation.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D2 MEN’S CLUB at MACH Playoffs

With their first task being Rowan University, the Green Horses will be taking their most successful team in the brief three year period into the MACH playoffs. They run into a Rowan team who is second in the conference and has taken both match-ups this season. Yet, the playoffs are a different beast and with all the adversity Stevenson has faced already– what’s a little more to overcome to get to the next round and maybe a title shot.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GREYHOUNDS WOMEN’S CLUB at DVCHC Playoffs

The Greyhounds won the South Division of the DVCHC, so they’re automatically into the semi-final game, where they’ll take on the second lowest seeded team in that game. Loyola comes in winning seven of their last eight to end the year and with Jessica Chicko playing out of her mind with four hat-trick in her last five games, including three straight. It’s always good to have that hot a hand when going into the playoffs– especially in a one-game scenario.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN’S CLUB at DVCHC Playoffs

While they looked like world beaters in the early going, the Terps had a bit of a bumpy patch late in the season, going only .500 in the last six games. They’ll take on West Chester in the first round, a team they met and lost to two weeks ago. If there’s any time for a revenge game and for Alix McKillop to really bust out the scoring– it’ll be here.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS D2 MEN’S CLUB at MACH Playoffs

The Terps have a bit of an uphill climb for the MACH playoffs, coming in as the last seed and facing powerhouse Liberty in the first round– a team that swept the Terps two weeks prior. The Terps have only won one game since semester break (seven games) and will have to dig deep or they’ll be preparing for the Crabpot tournament a little bit earlier than they’d hope.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 019

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS at New Jersey Titans

Last time the Black Bears were in New Jersey, they were able to get a split out of the weekend. While taking four points against the divisions top team is a tough task, it’s something that the Black Bears have a chance to do. With the new guys being acclimated to the team, it’ll be a task to harness that energy toward the Titans while trying to keep a gap in the East Division playoff hunt.

TEAM MARYLAND vs. New York Applecore

After a tough couple weekend against New Jersey, New York shows up to Team Maryland HQ with a 1-2-0 season record against TM so far. With TM trying to stay in the top-six, Applecore has the role to play possible spoilers– or at least rattle the cages of TM– in this weekend’s match-ups.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 MEN vs. Neumann University, Manhattanville College

The Mustangs return home after a less than desirable weekend in Pennsylvania. With a bitter taste in their mouths, Stevenson will take on two teams they beat handily at the beginning of the season and hope to find some home-ice advantage, despite being only two games over the .500 mark at Reisterstown SportsPlex.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN vs. Manhattanville College, Neumann University

Finishing up .500 last weekend, the Mustang women come back for one last home series of the regular season, which will be the last for the seniors in their careers. With the home-cooking, the seniors and the rest of the Green Horses are looking to get over their overall .500 mark on the season and gain momentum heading into the last two weekends of the season.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB at/vs. University of Maryland

In their last weekend of the regular season, the Green Horses club team take on the Terps in a home-and-home weekend. The last three games, the Mustangs have outscored their opponents 20-3 and look to pounce on a Maryland squad who has had plenty of troubles scoring this season. With playoffs looming and a chance to improve their position, we’ll see the best yet from the Mustangs this weekend.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN MEN’S D1 at West Chester University, vs. Lehigh University

As they sit atop the ECHA standings, the Middies look to hold onto that spot in order to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. With wins already this season against these teams, the Navy squad will look to revenge their loss in the finals last year and turn into a big win and possible National Championship bid because of it.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN MEN’S D2 at Georgetown University, Rowan University

While they may not make it to the ACCHL playoffs, the D2 Midshipmen will look to end on a high note in an otherwise tough season. They will hope to spark some offense that was off and on this season, but in a chance to play spoiler for Georgetown’s hopes; you can bet they’ll take advantage of it if possible.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN vs. University at Buffalo

In order to get into the top-four of the Southeast, the Middies will need to big wins over Buffalo, who are right behind them in the standings. Sitting fifth and hoping for computers to be on their side, Navy’s women will have to leave no doubt when it comes to these games in their last ride of the season.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GREYHOUNDS WOMEN at George Washington University, vs. West Chester University

Battling for the top spot in the South Division, the Greyhounds will take on a team they defeated 10-0 last weekend in GW, but then will take on a tough foe of the North Division in West Chester. It’ll really be a big test for the Greyhounds to see how they’re able to hang with the top teams in the other division for championship time.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS MEN vs/at Stevenson University, at University of Delaware

We mentioned the Terps ahead of this with the Mustangs, but the key point is the lack of scoring for the Terps this season, as it seemed that they haven’t been able to get that flow they had at the start of the season and find consistency throughout the season. With two tough tasks ahead, the Terps will probably sit in the MACH playoffs in the bottom spot.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN vs. George Washington University

In what could be a big scoring game, the Lady Terps will look to end the season and into the playoffs with a big win over GW, while hoping that Loyola has some struggles and won’t be able to end the year at the top of the table.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS MEN vs. Drexel University, West Chester University

In what was a tough season, the Tigers will finish it up at home and hope to get some wins in the instance. A lot of key elements are graduating, which could cause trouble for next season if things don’t improve to the level three seasons ago when the Tigers were in the ECHA championship game. Maybe something can click and they get back to those days of glory.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS WOMEN at West Virginia University

After their second win of the season, the Tigers will wrap up their season in West Virginia and hope to build their program back up. While they did get two more wins than last year, it’s something to build on for another Towson program trying to get back to the glory days of success in the area.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 018

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (16-17-7) vs. JAMESTOWN REBELS

It’s a revenge weekend for the Black Bears after going to Jamestown last weekend and getting swept. You’d also have to think they are also wanting to break their seven-game skid. Probably more frustrating is five of those seven losses have been by one-goal. With new faces in the line-up, the Black Bears are looking to make a seismic shift to their season going for a playoff push.

TEAM MARYLAND (18-18-3) vs. NEW JERSEY 87s

Another revenge game for a team at Piney Orchard, this one is Team Maryland– who lost to New Jersey a week ago at Piney Orchard 3-2. With plenty to stew about and knowing their opponents properly, TM will need to made a few adjustment and limit the shot total from New Jersey in order to reverse their fortune this week.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS MEN D3 (12-4-1) at KING’S COLLEGE, WILKES UNIVERSITY

After an underwhelming weekend, the Mustangs are looking to get back on the winning track with two games in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. While they have beaten King’s this year, Wilkes gave the Mustangs their first defeat of the season, something I’m sure Dominick Dawes’ crew would want to get back in a big way. A key to that will be the consistency of the power play, which has gone 2-for-16 in their last three games.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS WOMEN D3 (7-7-2) at NAZARETH COLLEGE, UTICA COLLEGE

With a sweep last week, the Mustangs got back to the .500 mark as they head into the final month of the regular season. Consistency is going to be key for the Mustangs, as they try to put together their first three-game win streak since November.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN MEN D1 (13-6-3) at TOWSON UNIVERSITY, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

In their penultimate weekend of the season, Navy will have their last in-state turn-up before the Crabpot at the end of the month with a team who hasn’t been as stellar as they hoped in Towson. Though, Navy’s road record pales in comparison to their home record, which could be an equalizer. However, they have beaten Villanova before the semester break– which could mean a tougher task for the Middies

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN MEN D2 (3-9-3) vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, THE CITADEL

A big win to start the short semester, Navy’s D2 team has a big task in front of them with three-in-three against a very solid George Washington squad and two against D3’s The Citadel. With scoring sometimes at a premium for the Mids, they’ll need to rely heavy on a transition game against GWU, while The Citadel will try to strangle the Mids defensively.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS MEN (3-22-2) vs. NAVAL ACADEMY, VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

The Tigers have only scored five goals in the last five games, which isn’t ideal when their goaltenders are getting pummeled with shots. Two tough tasks this weekend follow, which could make this season to forget even more forgettable– or they could play a spoiler for both these squads as we get to the end of the year.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS WOMEN (1-10-0) vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

It’s been a rough year for the Tigers, but they’ll start off their second semester with the team they defeated in their first game of the year– which has been their only win in two years. Being well-rested will help, though there could be a little rink rust in the early going.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GREYHOUNDS (6-4-0) vs. GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY

With a tough OT loss at Villanova, the Greyhounds look to rebound and keep challenging the Terps for top spot of the DVCHC South Division. They’ll be taking on a team who has been winless this year, which could be a path back to the win column or a trap game against an underappreciated opponent.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS MEN (3-11-3) vs. LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

After a tough weekend in New Jersey to start the semester, the Terps face the #1 team in D2. With the absence of Chris Bouchard, Evan Yamaguchi was the only goal-scorer of last weekend. They’ll need a full effort from everyone on the roster in order to keep up with the top team in D2.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN (9-5-0) at WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY

In their second to last game, the Terps will go to West Chester to get back on the right path while prepping for the playoff possibility. The biggest thing will be if the offensive continues to be as dominant as they have been in the first semester.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 017

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (16-15-7) at JAMESTOWN REBELS

It’s a crucial weekend for the Black Bears, as they try to snap their five-game losing skid, as well as pick up important points against the Rebels, who they’ll play four times in the next two weekends. While the losses have been close ones, the chance is now for the Black Bears to turn up the heat and learn how they are at facing adversity. With new acquisition Jack Smiley in town, it’ll be interesting to see what dynamic be brings to the Black Bears line-up moving forward.

TEAM MARYLAND (18-17-3) vs. NEW JERSEY 87s

After two big wins against North Carolina, TM is back at it for a single game this week, trying to avenge a sweep they suffered in New Jersey in mid-December. They will be without the services of Jay de Ruiter, who will be representing the Netherlands as alternate captain in the Division II World Junior Championship in Korea. Playing against the top team in the Mid-Atlantic Conference will be a real test for TM as they look ahead for a playoff berth.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (12-3-0) vs. SUNY-FREDONIA

After a weekend sweep last week, the Mustangs look back in the right track and just below the top-ten in the national rankings. With Ryan Kenny being dominant in net as a freshman and the special teams being solid– 32.5% PP and 83% PK– the Mustangs and hoping to improve as they get to the last weeks of the season and hope to get into the National tournament.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS WOMEN (5-7-2) vs. WILKES COLLEGE, KING’S COLLEGE

It’s been a roller coaster season for the women of Stevenson, with not much consistency in their play all season. With a week of team-building and a weekend on the road; the women will look to get back on their winning side against a team in King’s that they’ve handily beat earlier this year and Wilkes, whom they are facing for the first time.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (10-11-0) vs. ????

While I don’t know the logo of the college they’re playing, the Mustangs club team will be honoring their first team, as the seniors are being honored this weekend. As they’ve seen the team grow, they’ve seen the growth of the team culminate in their final year. As the team starts to really roll in the end, they hope to end it for a high note for their fans and as they roll into the playoffs.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (12-5-3) vs. TEMPLE UNIVERSITY, at DREXEL UNIVERSITY

After a sweep of the weekend, the Middies look to continue to pad their lead in the ECHA standings in hopes of putting themselves in a great position for the playoffs. With the combo of Joe Kelly and Conner Hyden clicking so far after the semester break, Navy is hoping they can keep the balanced attack going as they start the home-stretch of the season.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (2-8-0) vs. ST. JOSEPH UNIVERSITY

It is not the year the D2 Middies have hoped for, but they can still save face in the last few games of the year. Kevin Harris has been great on the offensive side of the puck, though the defense has kind of left Skippy Sheldon out in the lurch for the better part of the season.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN (10-5-1) vs. LIBERTY UNIVERSITY, MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

With a big sweep last week, the Midshipwomen will take on two big tasks in three games. Liberty is one of the top teams int he ACHA, while Michigan State took them to the limit in Navy’s trip up north earlier in the year. Maggie Madigan, Devin Marshall, and Rose Gasper will need to really be on their two-way game to be successful this weekend.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (3-19-1) vs. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH, at WILLIAM PATERSON UNIVERSITY

Going one for three last week wasn’t bad for the Tigers, who have had a less than stellar season. Jacob Snyder was a stud facing over 150 shots in the three games and got quite the workout in. With two tough tasks ahead of them, the biggest thing is survival and saving face as the season stgarts to wind down.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (3-9-2) at COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY, RIDER UNIVERSITY

With Chris Bouchard gone, the weight of the scoring will fall to Liam Eden for the Terps. While there’s only a few games remaining, the task at hand will be to let get some momentum at the end of the season and see who takes over the reigns as the offensive dynamo going into next season.

UNIVERSITY OF LOYOLA-MARYLAND WOMEN (7-2-0) at VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY

In their first games back, the Greyhounds will look to build off the first half success, especially with the four-game win streak they are on. With only one game in the weekend, they should be able to push themselves hard enough to get back into game speed, but also adapt to the play of ‘Nova as the game goes on.

Three Days at The Den

When the NAHL announced in April 2018 that they were expanding to Odenton, Maryland– I was excited, but also apprehensive. In fact, I was wrong about a lot of things that they were going to do in the infancy of that team– like the name and inclusion of Natty Boh. However, as time goes and proves me wrong– I’m happy that I was wrong. Spending time around the team this week and at a home game after a season-and-a-half reporting from afar, this team couldn’t be in better shape with what they’ve laid out from the beginning of the team.

The experience of the week was nothing short of tremendous both in a fan experience side of things with participating in intermission festivities to the professional side of thing with access to players and coaches, as well as helping with recaps of the intermission and getting some time in the booth with play-by-play announcer Alex Utano. The open-arms that the Black Bears welcomed Jen Conway (@NHLHistorygirl) and myself was great. It shouldn’t be such a surprise considering how well they take care of Jon Pitonzo as our official podcast photographer.

Thursday morning, Jen and I went to practice and immediately had Black Bears captain Logan Kons tap on the glass and give a head-nod acknowledgement of us being there– which is a stand-up act in and of itself, but more on that later. Following that, communications director Colin MacCarthy came over to welcome us and following practice, team president Robyn Remick came up to us to make sure that we were well taken care of and offered us a skate in the now-reality Rink Two, which we took her up on.

During the, Colin and I worked out who I wanted to talk to for the week– which turned out to be not only a podcast; but the weekly Black Bears’ Report they put out on their social media streams. Following that, Robyn, Colin, Jen, and myself sat up in the Black Bears war room and talked about things inside and out of hockey. It was very good time hearing stories of Robyn’s past at ESPN and the different things she’s experienced when in the sports lifestyle. We took our leave later to let them get to work and have us adventure on our vacation.

Friday night was a great night, not just because of the Black Bears win, but also just being able to experience the game first-hand. The in-game production, coordinated by Harrison Hascoe, was top-notch and very well executed to keep the fans involved during stoppages in play and during the intermission– even if it means putting two podcasters in a grueling obstacle course that is not meant for two former athletes with dwindling cardio. With my time up in the HockeyTV booth with Alex Utano and cameraman Will (whose last name I didn’t get or forgot– sorry Will) was also awesome, as it had been over 15 years since I last called a hockey game.

Also on Friday night, it was meeting up with billet parents who I have interacted with online before, but have never met face-to-face– with the exception of Bethany and Brian; who came to North Dakota in the summer. It’s always great to meet those people behind the scenes to help keep these players in a family lifestyle while they’re away from home.

While Saturday night was a loss, the production and energy in the arena was amazing and kept everyone invested in the game throughout. Especially after the game, where autographs for fans in attendance happened; which happens win or loss– which is a nice connection with these players to the fanbase and the community as a whole. Also, before the game, a reception was held beforehand, as it was Swedish Heritage Night. Delicacies were made and brought from Sweden that season ticket holders and staff partook in with the families of defenseman Hampus Rydqvist and Filip Jakobsson, as well as Lars-Erik Tindre from the Swedish embassy. Another way that the team connects the fans with the team and also making those from the team feel a little closer to home, if only for a night.

Not only that, but seeing people I haven’t seen in a while– like my former teammate Kevin, meeting people who know my former teammates and who I interact with online– Mark; meeting fellow DMV area hockey backers– like Derek of Chesapeake Regional Hockey Review and his son; plus meeting a podcast listener whose name I didn’t get, but was wearing a Patrick Kane US Hockey jersey– so shoutout to you PK88 listener. It was a great coming together of the hockey community in the region.

Back to Logan Kons for a second. I mentioned earlier about him saying hi when Jen and I got there– but after that practice, he formally said hi to us and we chatted and after the game Saturday he came up and thanked me for coming out and asked when I’d be back in the area. I noticed that Friday, as well, with Kons going up to fans, billet families, player’s families, and talking to them and thanking them for coming out. That’s the mark of a true leader when the off-ice commitments are as strong as the on-ice commitments. If there’s someone to look at when it comes to all-around good person in hockey– Kons will be tops on that list for me.

The entire experience was great, the staff there from Robyn to Colin to Harrison to Alex to Will to Herb the PA Announcer to Mitch the Media Intern to the Ice Crew to everyone was top rate, very welcoming and open, and willing to take time out to make things right if there were problems to make sure that they are running a top-notch program on and off the ice.

If you have the chance to make it out to a Black Bears game, I implore you to do so. This is a team that cares about the community from the president to the players and everyone in between. They all make sure the experience you have there is one you will want to come back to and one that will last in your mind. Thanks to everyone who welcomed Jen and I to the rink and it’s something we’ll be sure to return to hopefully sooner than later.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 015

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (15-13-4) vs. NORTHEAST GENERALS

Riding a five-game winning streak and coming off a weekend break, the Black Bears hit the ice at The Den for the start of 2020. The Black Bears have been playing solid hockey, outscoring opponents 21-5 during the winning streak. This all while dealing with the departure of leading scorer Wilmer Skoog to Boston University. However, the departure of Skoog is probably going to be the turning point that brings the team together more. The entire team has come together to be better than before, with Jackson Sterrett and Brayden Stannard starting to emerge offensively for the team. However, in the previous meeting this season with the Generals, the Black Bears lost a three-game set two game to one in Northeast, with the two losses being one-goal affairs. With a new attitude, we can expect the best from this team trying to stay one of the hottest teams in the NAHL.

TEAM MARYLAND (14-15-3) at PHILADELPHIA LITTLE FLYERS

A difficult end of 2019 and going winless in December is something that Team Maryland hopes to resolve in their first game of the new calendar year. Hampered with a seven-game losing streak, the team looks to use the two-week break they had to regroup and get more mentally rested going into the final weeks of the schedule. With Denys Arkhypenko coming back after a five-point performance at the World Juniors Division 1-B tournament, the offense should have an added kick in their game this weekend against the Little Flyers.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 (9-1-0) vs. CHATHAM UNIVERSITY

One of the hottest teams in D3 hockey right now, Stevenson looks to add another win to their seven-game win streak this weekend in a one-off against Chatham. Getting into the USCHO rankings for the first time in team history, the #12 Mustangs are trying not to let the almost month off hurt them too much. Their +25 goal differential overall is tops amongst other UCHC teams overalls, while in-league, they are a +7, which is second in the conference. This is wilder given that leading scorer Dominic Brenza is 41st in UCHC overall scoring, showing how spread around the puck has been. Freshman goalie Ryan Kenny has been stellar with 1.84 GAA in his six starts– all wins– and has two shutouts in his six games.

Clutch N’ Crab Hockey Weekend Preview 014

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (13-13-4) vs. WILKES-BARRE SCRANTON KNIGHTS

After a huge three-win weekend in Maine, the Black Bears return home for their last series before a small winter break against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, a team that’s just a single point ahead of them in the standings.

Last weekend, the Black Bears probably played their most complete weekend of hockey in recent memory. They were able to control the pace of the game for the majority of the three games, they got solid goaltending and defense, while their scoring was clicking in a big way. The team’s dynamic seemed to be on full display with everyone on the roster contributing– even if it wasn’t on the scoresheet.

This weekend is the third meeting between the Bears and Knights, with Maryland holding the lead in the series at 3-1, though it’s been almost two months since their last meeting against each other. Obviously a lot has changed, but the matter at hand for each team is to sweep the weekend and have some kind of breathing room going into the second half of the season.

For Maryland, the key is to keep that solid defensive momentum from the Maine series over into the rest of the year. There were very minimal turnovers or bad breakouts that series, which is something they haven’t always done this season. Both Andrew Takacs and Cooper Black were fantastic when called upon, letting up only four goals in the entire three-game series. More over than that, the addition of Mikhael Gonchar has seemingly helped the defense on both sides of the puck, while Logan Kons and Hampus Rydqvist continue to be the anchors of that blue line.

On the offensive side, Jackson Sterrett has been emerging as the top producer for this team. With East Division Star of the Week honors, the Tennessee native has honed his game into an even more well-rounded setting. It also shows the trust that the coaching staff has in him with placing him in every kind of role imaginable to help him succeed, which includes the penalty kill– earning him three short-handed goals in the season. Not to be outdone, Brayden Stannard and Kyle Oleksiuk have been fantastic as complimentary options for the offense. Both have come up with key goals in the last couple weeks, while also showing a ton of grit in the offensive style. Add that to Andrew Remer and Ethan Heidepriem being solid in the face-off dot and around the puck and you’ve got a top-12 that has every facet of game play ready to move ahead and committed to being there for each other.

The Knights have been a streaky team of sort this season, winning two of three this past week, while being 5-3-2 in their last ten. Both Lincoln Hatten and Tyrone Bronte seemingly love to play against the Black Bears, as Hatten has three goals and an assist already this year against Maryland, while Bronte may not be scoring as much (two assists), but is a thorn in the side on his forecheck. One of the biggest things for Maryland is continuing to pepper the goaltending in Zach Stejskal and Alex Contey, whom they’ve score 19 goals in the series so far. Keeping the Knights on their heels is going to be the top priority in making sure they can’t dictate pace.

And if you’re in the area, go to the Maryland Black Bears website to get some tickets and support your local team. Tell ’em Scotty Wazz sent you and some people ask, “Who??” and others will say, “How’s he doing these days?? Does he know about the second rink??”