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 012

MEN’S SIDE

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (10-11-4) vs. JAMESTOWN REBELS

It’ll be a big weekend for the Black Bears both on and off the ice, as the Teddy Bear Toss is on Friday with the Military Appreciation Night on Saturday. Even with the pomp and circumstance, the Black Bears need to look at taking four points this weekend after coming up short last weekend. With third through seventh in the division only separated by seven points, every point matters and the Black Bears know that they should bank up all the points they can for a possible rainy day down the line.

TEAM MARYLAND (14-9-2) at PHILADELPHIA REVOLUTION

After a weekend off, Team Maryland is back at it again; carrying a four-game winning streak into this weekend with the Revolution. TM will look to avenge a sweep at the Revolution from earlier in the season. With the team growing each game and maturing as a group, it’ll be easy for TM to get even with the Revolution from what happened earlier in the season.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS MEN’S D3 (7-1-0)vs. UTICA COLLEGE, NAZARETH COLLEGE

Riding a five-game winning streak, the Mustangs are looking to close out their semester with only having lost one. Having scored five or more goals in the last four games, the Mustangs have the fire power and have been fairly solid defensively, less last weekend’s hiccup against St. Norbert where they gave up five goals in the the win. A well-balanced team will hopefully keep the Mustangs rolling along.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS MEN (2-15-1) vs. GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY, at PSU-BERKS

It hasn’t been the best start to the season for Towson, but this weekend could be interesting considering they’re (according to the ACHA website) are taking on a D3 team in George Mason and a team in PSU-Berks that has had a rough a season as they have. If they can end the year on a high note, it’ll do wonder for confidence going into the second half of the season and hopefully beyond.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS CLUB (7-7-0) at LIBERTY UNIVERSITY

After a successful trip to Europe, the Mustangs will head down to another tough task in playing Liberty. With Liberty being a top team in the D2 side, you can bet that the experience and chemistry the Mustangs developed in Europe will need to be carried over on the road and against the task in front of them. Dealing with pros in Europe should harden up the team in the long-run and hopefully push them through the rest of the way.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (2-9-0) vs. GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY, ROWAN UNIVERSITY

After what felt like an eternity, the D2 Middies are back in action to end their semester at home. While it has been a rough ride, the Mids do have plenty of pride to play for and should have gotten enough rest between games to make sure they are crisp and ready for the last two games before another long break.

WOMEN’S SIDE

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS D3 WOMEN’S (4-3-2) vs. ENDICOTT COLLEGE

A tough break in the Codfish Bowl championship game last week may make the Mustangs out for some revenge on the Endicott team this weekend. As this team comes together more and more, the Mustangs look to get a very solid showing offensively, while they rely heavily on their goaltending to bail out some so-so defensive issues. While they should be able to be fixed easily, Annie Smyth-Hammond and Annika Carlander have been stellar in those small lapses.

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND GREYHOUNDS (6-3-0) at WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

With a solid showing in the DVCHC Showcase, the Greyhounds are looking forward to a big series in West Virginia. Loyola only has six games left, including this weekend set– which means they’ll need every win possible and could have a good chance of being in every game from this point onward. It’s just a matter of keeping it close when needed and hoping it doesn’t blow up going the other way.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (9-4-0) at UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE

They have not played well away from home, but the Terps will need to get this win because they only have three games remaining including this one. With a lot of points banked up early, they should be in a good spot for the South Division of the DVCHC, but they will have Loyola on their tails and the Greyhounds have games in hand. Every win will matter, especially with almost two months off.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-9-0) vs. UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA

Towson is in the same spot as Maryland with only three games remaining and a month off after this game. However, Towson hasn’t been all that great, but it’s a growing team. They got their first win in years, they’ve got a solid crop of players in their line-up, and they’re out there giving their heart even in lopsided games as they’ve had this year. Gotta respect that.

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: Women’s Edition

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (4-1-0) at WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY MOUNTAINEERS

Last Week: The Terps dominated Montclair State 17-5 with 11 players having multiple-point games.

What To Look For: It’ll be interesting to see how long the domination continues, as they play a weaker WVa team. The Terps are averaging over nine goals a game and eight players with a better than point-per-game average. While the defense may be suspect at times, that could be the only flaw in their game.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (1-2-0) vs. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS (1-1-0)

Last Week: Both teams were off last week, but both teams lost to Maryland the week prior– Towson downed 12-0 and Loyola downed 7-5. Towson also lost to Montclair State 10-3.

What To Look For: Provided that Towson just won their first game in two years and Loyola was able to beat Montclair State and hung close with Maryland; it could be a big night for the Greyhounds. That said, Towson has shown a bit of a fight in them wanting to get back on the winning track, so it would seem they will do all they can to keep it close this weekend.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN (4-1-1) vs. MERCYHURST UNIVERSITY LAKERS and at LIBERTY UNIVERSITY FLAMES

Last Week: Off last week, as well– but the Lady Mids are coming back from a weekend that saw them tie and lose to Michigan State in Lansing. It was a test for them, as they had been mowing down teams left and right to start the season.

What To Look For: This will be another test, as Mercyhurst is one of the top scoring teams in D2, while Liberty provides a consistent style of play that the Mids will have to counteract in short time. The good thing is that they play Mercyhurst first and will be able to adjust and adapt to take on Liberty the next night.

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 Weekend Preview 005: Women’s Edition

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN (6-0-0) at MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS

Last Week: Only one game, but it was a dominating performance with the Women winning 9-0 over Air Force and outshooting them 75-15. The Women Mids have outscore their opponents 51-4 on the season. 

What To Look For: Can the dominance continue in East Lansing?? There’s really no sign of this team letting up and quite frankly– they shouldn’t either. With each game being more important than the last, the Women Mids will have to keep the pedal down if they want to get noticed on the national stage. 

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS WOMEN (1-1-0) vs. LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS and TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS 

Last Week: We welcome the Women Terps, who were all or nothing last week in a 20-0 lost to Rowan University, but a 12-0 win over George Washington. Alix MacKillop, Amanda Schweitzer, and Aya Gandolfo had two goals apiece in the win. 

What To Look For: We’ll see what happens after the crazy free-for-all weekend from last weekend and if it’ll carry over against two other Maryland teams. 

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS WOMEN (1-0-0) vs. MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY RED HAWKS and UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Last Week: Another newcomer to the list is the Towson women, who won their first game since the 2017-18 season by beating George Washington 12-5. Lily Warshaw led the way with a hat trick in the big win for the program. 

What To Look For: We’ll see if the good times keep rolling, as they’ll take on two teams who will have to go through Loyola first. Maybe someone could scout out that talent before the game. 

LOYOLA UNIVERSITY GREYHOUNDS (0-0-0) vs. MONTCLAIR STATE UNIVERSITY RED HAWKS and UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS

Last Week: It’s the first game of the season for the lady Greyhounds, as they’ll look to improve on their 11-win season last year out of their 16 games. 

What To Look For: It’ll be a fresh start for all over, though it’ll be interesting to see how they approach Maryland– who was an all-or-nothing team last weekend.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 005: Men’s Edition

Editor’s Note: I’m taking out the “Bold Prediction” portion mostly because most of them never come true and it’s hard to look into the future when you have a full-time job and can’t study video tape to have an accurate representation.

MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (4-4-0) vs. JOHNSTOWN TOMAHAWKS

Last Week-ish: They had a bye week last week, but it was only after the Black Bears swept the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights by a combined score of 12-5 with Jackson Sterrett leading the way with three goals and four assists.

What To Look For: It’ll be the return of the original Black Bear captain Quinn Warmuth, who is on the side of the rival Tomahawks. While the Tomahawks had the Black Bears’ number last year, the fire power of that team has moved onto college. With the Black Bears coming off a fresh weekend and gaining more confidence by the day, it won’t be so easy for those players from Western PA. We’ll also possibly see the newcomers of the team in Filip Jakobsson and Noah Kiemel.

TEAM MARYLAND (6-5-1) at SEAHAWKS HC and NEW HAMPSHIRE AVALANCHE

Last Week: Two series in less than a week saw TM split with New York Applecore and the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers. Connor Ball had four goals and an assist in those four games, while Tristan Mock added more to the offense with three goals and three assists. While Peter Siolas hasn’t been as hot, Armand Charland and Zach Richards have picked up the slack in net.

What To Look For: Going to West Chester, PA for another showcase weekend will be interesting to take in, especially with this being their fifth and sixth games within eight days. Odds are this team will be giving their all, but the travel and possible fatigue may catch up to them during these games.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D1 (2-3-1) vs. THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY LIONS and PENN STATE-BERKS NITTANY LIONS

Last Week: Two tough losses for the Middies against the Pitt Panthers last week, as they were downed in their home weekend. Josiah Tolvo had a goal and two assists on the weekend, with Nathan Hyden adding a goal and assist of his own to keep his offensive consistency alive and well. Navy had six different scorers on the weekend, as well.

What To Look For: Navy is facing two weaker opponents this week, as TCNJ is a D2 school and Penn State-Berks only has one win in three games, but this is a weekend to actually build up confidence going forward. To handle these teams easily would help set the tone ahead of them, while also seeing where they are at in case they falter to one of both of these teams.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (0-6-0) vs. CLEARY UNIVERSITY COUGARS

Last Week: Another tough weekend for the Tigers, losing to Lehigh 2-0 and then traveling to George Mason and dropping a 3-1 decision there. While there isn’t definite stats for the Lehigh game, Towson did hold GMU to only 36 shots on Sunday– which is solid for a team with some defensive issues on the year.

What To Look For: Towson will be taking on Cleary University as the latter will be playing their first games in the history of the university. It will be quite the interesting match-up to see if this Tigers team, who has had some struggles, can upend this first-year club. It’ll take more offense and defense, as Ryan Dieter and Costa Pizanis have six of the team’s seven goals on the season.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS (2-0-0) at UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA CAVALIERS and JAMES MADISON UNIVERSITY DUKES and VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES

Last Week: It was total domination by the Terps over Pitt with 17 goals in two games and back-to-back hat tricks from Liam Eden; who also potted two assists on the weekend. Not to be outdone, Chris Bouchard had nine points (3g, 6a) on the weekend– which showed that the rust from a month off didn’t show for the Terps.

What To Look For: A big travel weekend for the ACCHL Virginia Invitational but with their game being as well-rounded as it has been; it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Eden, Bouchard, and Evan Yamaguchi should be able to keep the offensive wheels turning against teams who have had struggles when it comes to scoring and keeping the puck out of the net, as well.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (4-0-0) at RIDER UNIVERSITY BRONCS

Last Week: An off-weekend for the surprising Mustangs, who swept West Virginia the week previous. Brian Hodges had three goals in the series, with Brandon Scholze providing two goals and an assist. With those wins, the Mustangs are only two wins away from tying the franchise record for wins…albeit a young franchise at that.

What To Look For: It’ll be a battle of the undefeated teams with Rider holding a 4-0-0 record as well. This Stevenson team, however, has put in a lot of work to make this year better and with a full roster of talent on the full 200-feet, they’ll make quite the game out of it. Goaltender by committee has worked, but someone will need to break out and take the reigns sooner or later. Hodges and Mark Bowen have been great offensively and will need to continue that to help the Mustangs get even better.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (2-2-0) vs. XAVIER UNIVERSITY MUSKETEERS

Last Week: The D2 Middies split the Commander-in-Chief Showcase last week in Annapolis, losing to Air Force 5-1, but beating Army in thrilling fashion 4-3. Though I didn’t see the Army game, Skippy Sheldon made 59 saves in the loss to Air Force, where he didn’t get much help offensively from his teammates.

What To Look For: With the undefeated Musketeers coming in, the D2 Middies will be in tough. They’ll need to make sure they play solid defensively, as to not have a repeat of the Air Force game, while also providing offensive support. Xavier has played better on the road, which will mean the Middies will need to be even more up for the game than usual.

A Talk With Sam Anas on Maryland Hockey, New Coaches, and Regaining a Balance

As Sam Anas stepped onto the ice of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, something seemed to burn him. At one of the ends of the rink hangs a National Championship banner from 2016 with the University of North Dakota logo on it. Anas was a senior during that year, as his Quinnipiac Bobcats were on the short-end of the National Championship game. It’s something his teammates on the Iowa Wild– who were on that UND team– don’t let him forget about.

“That’s something that will live with me forever,” Anas mentioned post-game of the exhibitions at The Ralph between Iowa and the Manitoba Moose. “We’ve got Luke Johnson and Keaton Thompson now and we’ve had some conversations about it, but it still burns.”

That burning desire lead him to signing a deal with the Minnesota Wild after his time with the Bobcats was finished, but it’s been a bit of an up-and-down time in the three seasons. While only netting 12 goals and 28 points in his rookie season, Anas’ sophomore year saw him as a key contributor to the team with 26 goals and 61 points. However, a streaky season last year saw him with only 38 points on the 2018-19 campaign. In order to find some more balance, Anas went back to the place that saw him contribute 69 goals and 132 points in 121 games.

“I actually went back to Quinnipiac for about two months and spent a lot of time with the strength coach there, Brijesh Patel,” Anas said. “We had a good group of alums there pushing each other. That was the biggest thing, getting in the weight room more and getting stronger, mainly quicker– not necessarily refine my game, but re-balance. The facility and everything is awesome, but Brijesh is top-of-the-line. He cares so much about us, not just as hockey players, but wants us to be better athletes and better people. There’s guys out there playing in the NHL, guys trying to play in the AHL, and you get pretty competitive. It’s a great dynamic and I think it’s going to pay dividends for this year.”

Photo by Jennifer Conway/@NHLHistoryGirl

It will be the second year for Anas and the Wild to have Tim Army as their head coach. Coming on in 2018-19, Army was the former right-hand-man to Ron Wilson and someone who got ahead of the video watching era in hockey. Army helped Iowa get to their first playoff berth in franchise history last season, getting them to the second round. Anas had a lot of praise for his bench boss.

“He brings such a passion to the rink every day. He’s very intense, in a good way,” Anas mentions about his coach. “It’s ‘win-or-die’ for him and that’s the way it should be, especially at this level. It’s fun because you don’t want to lose. Playing for a coach who will do anything to win is contagious and he gets the best out of us, which showed last year.”

Also brought on for this season was Alex Tanguay, former NHLer and Stanley Cup winner. From playing career to TV gig, the Wild seemed excited to play for him this season, at least from Anas’ point of view.

“It’s definitely a different voice for us,” said Anas. “Someone who played the game as such a high level for so long. He’s so well respected in the league and even on NHL Network, you can see why he was successful in the way he explains the plays. I’m looking forward to a year with him.”

Of course, I’ve touted Anas– a native of Potomac, Maryland– on the Chesapeake Hockey Week podcast, as he’s a guy who went through the Maryland system through high school at the Landon School, through Team Maryland, through the Washington Little Caps and went on to have solid success through college and into the pros. It doesn’t go unnoticed from Anas, who adds to the “Ovechkin Effect” that many people have said has contributed to the rise of hockey in the Maryland area.

“A lot of it stems from the success from the Caps,” Anas hypothesized. “Ever since (Alex) Ovechkin came in the picture, hockey was really taken over. It used to be all about the Redskins, but they’ve gone downhill and the Caps have gone uphill. I’ve got friends telling me they wished they played hockey growing up.”

Anas continued, “It’s just great to see more guys playing college or playing junior. A guy I went to school with, Joe Snively, signed to the Caps and he’s a Virginia guy, but it’s all in the DMV area. It’s awesome to see and you go back home and skate and each year, there’s more and more guys committing to play Division 1 or getting drafted in the USHL; it’s just going to lead to more progress.”

This is the last year of Anas’ second contract with Minnesota and he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. However, Anas isn’t looking too far ahead to that. He’s much more focused on how he can contribute this season.

“It’s about playing a complete game, you always want to be a reliable player, offensively or defensively,” Anas explained. “You don’t want to be someone who can’t be counted on at a certain part of the game. On the other end, I want to produce as much as possible. Whether it’s scoring goals, creating plays, or getting assists. A big part of that for me is the power play and we didn’t score any tonight, but we had some good chemistry out there and it’s going to be a fun year.”