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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
MARYLAND BLACK BEARS (2-4-0) at WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON KNIGHTS
Last Week: The NAHL Showcase came and went with the Black Bears coming out of Blaine with a 2-2-0 record to show for it. The defensive game came around with the Black Bears giving up one less goal in the four game Showcase (7) than they did in the second periods of the previous two games against New Jersey (8). Cooper Black came in and played amazing well with two wins and 1.00 GAA over those two wins.
What To Look For: Can the teamwork of this team carry over into the divisional match-ups?? I believe it can, as this team looks more together than last year’s bunch. There’s still some work to be done and some guys still need to get going this season; but overall– the small steps the team has made looks to be the start of something more solid for the Black Bears.
Bold Prediction: Two of the older Bears in Jonathan Young and Luke Mountain will finally hit their full stride. Mountain showed some signed of getting it going before Blaine and Young showed some leaving Blaine. It might take a little bit of nudging, but those two are too good to keep slumping for too long.
TEAM MARYLAND (3-2-1) at Jr. Railers HC (Sunday); Vermont Lumberjacks (Monday)
Last Week: A big sweep of the Philadelphia Junior Flyers helped Team Maryland get a jump on their divisional foes and, like their affiliates, has really showed a culmination of being at this level for the second season. Peter Siolas came back from injury to post two solid winning efforts. Jeff Rebmann potted a goal and four assists on the weekend, while Tristan Mock scored two goals on Monday’s affair.
What To Look For: It’s the first time on the road for Team Maryland and they’ll play against the best and worst team in the New England conference. Rebmann has the hot hand going into it, but how much can Jay de Ruiter be held back, especially after his promising first weekend.
Bold Prediction: Team Maryland goes to Walpole and takes both games of this event and comes back looking better than ever. Also, we’ll see both Siolas and Armand Charland come away with wins, as de Ruiter has a breakout game against Vermont.
TOWSON UNIVERSITY (0-2-0) at UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND RAMS
Last Week: It was a rough opening weekend for the Tigers, as they were outscored 8-2 on the weekend, with both Jake Snyder and Kevin Mackey facing a lot of pucks in those games, while the offense left more to be desired, though Costa Pizanis and Ryan Dieter showed up for the offense– as they have most of their time with the Tigers.
What To Look For: Team defense will be one thing to see if it shows up this week. It’s one thing to have a weekend that’s a hiccup on the radar, but when they gave up almost an average of 50 shots a game last season– it’s more than a blip, it’s a trend. Regardless of how much Pizanis, Dieter, and the offense provides, the fact they are giving up almost 50 shots a game isn’t going to help anyone’s cause.
Bold Prediction: The Tigers will get one win on the season, but the biggest thing is that they will have at least one game where they will give up less than 40 shots in a game. Even if it’s just 39 shots– that’s less than 40 and a start to some improvement for the defense and a little less shell-shocked goaltending.
STEVENSON UNIVERSITY (2-0-0) vs. WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY MOUNTAINEERS
Last Week: A road game didn’t deter the Mustangs, nor did an early Saturday start– as they swept the weekend with wins against George Mason and West Chester. Mark Bowen was on fire with four goals on the weekend, Gary Matyok had a pair of his own, while the defense held firm– especially against West Chester late.
What To Look For: A full weekend back at the Reisterstown Sportplex should do a world of good for a team who is already at one-third of their win total from all of last season. Coach Mike Urgo has gotten this team into great shape, with the returning players gelling well with the new players. The only thing they need is support from the local hockey fans and this team can do anything.
Bold Prediction: Any West Virginia team hasn’t been great to Maryland teams, but Stevenson bucks this trend in D2 with another big weekend ahead of them. We still haven’t see guys like Thomas Foschini or Brandon Scholze kick it into high gear, which may be coming if Bowen continues to build great offensive energy that can infect the rest of the team.
NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (1-0-0) at UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND SPIDERS
Last Week: Only one game as the D2 Middies beat Millersville University 3-2 in OT with a hat trick from Kevin Harris. Not much else was put out there in terms of stats, so we have to go with that for now.
What To Look For: With only two games in two weeks, how much chemistry can be brought from practice into the game situation. Obviously, a disciplined team like Navy could be okay with the time between games; but overall– what will this mean for them when weekend start to pick-up?? At least they’ll get their travel out of the way early.
Bold Prediction: Harris may not be the offensive start, but the Middies will go to Richmond and take a win out of their hands and come back to Annapolis 2-0-0.
NAVAL ACADEMY WOMEN’S (2-0-0) at WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY RAMS
Last Week: Upstate New York was no match for the Navy Women’s team, as they swept SUNY-Oswego and outscored them 11-3 in their first outing. Six different goal scorers on Saturday’s win, though no record of the Sunday scoring.
What To Look For: Another road weekend for Navy, as they’ll try to keep their legs about them with all the travel. West Chester has been on a decline in recent seasons, but Navy shouldn’t take them lightly as it could be a change of pace and cycle of classes for WCU.
Bold Prediction: Navy keeps the winning ways alive and they’ll keep distributing the wealth of goals, while not shying away from playing defensive hockey, as well.
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.
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.
Yesterday, I mentioned the community the team built off the ice, especially when the product on the ice was going through some growing pains. Politicians and car salesmen may lie– but numbers never do. Second to last in wins, points, and goal differential. The goals-for and power play was 22nd in the league, the goals-against and penalty kill was last in the league. Defensive zone play was a little shaky with turnovers on breakout attempts, holding the puck too long, or not being able to adapt to a strong forecheck. The growing pains of a first year team.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying, however, as GM and head coach Clint Mylymok did what he could with a team that didn’t have previous experience playing alongside each other. Like most other expansion teams, there’s going to be hiccups when it comes to chemistry and the fact that they had 46 players play in a Black Bears uniform this season also stifles the chemistry of a team. Whether it be due to injury, trades, performances, or otherwise– with a roster in constant flux, hard to have a consistent performance with the shake-ups.
The team started to be built by acquiring Carter Wade and Luke Posner from the Kenai River Brown Bears before the NAHL Draft. In that draft, they went after a USHL player in Steven Agriogianis, though he would never suit up for the team. While Agriogianis didn’t play, plenty of players picked in that draft did don the red, yellow, and black. The likes of Patrick Choi, Luc Salem, Max Borst, Luke Mountain, Marek Wazny, and Thomas Jarman all got selected and played a big role in the first season. Of course, Choi and original captain Quinn Warmuth got traded to bring in Kyle Oleksiuk (EDIT: I wrongly put Christian Brune in the original. Thanks to Colin from the Black Bears for noticing my mistake), but Choi and Warmuth were big part of the first season the time they were there.
However, this was a team that looked solid for a first-year squad in the first few months. They were in a playoff spot for a decent amount of time and were in the hunt until about January, even after going 2-7-1 in November where they played the juggernaut of the Johnstown Tomahawks several times. Even in the last three months where the wins were few and far between– guys came out to play, the new additions were contributing in a big way, while the young players who will be the core for the future got a chance to acclimate themselves to the NAHL style of play.
Everyone played their role, though. I don’t think there were many guys who were passengers on the ride. Everyone had to adapt to the injuries. Hell, the last couple weekends, the team only had four natural defensemen in the line-up with Wazny going back to the point. Mountain turned it on late in the season with eight points (4g, 4a) in his last six games, 25 (6g, 19a) of Jonathan Young’s 36 points came in the 2019 calendar year (27 games). Borst became the go-to guy for the penalty with, racking up three short-handed goals which is tied for third in the entire NAHL. Lest we forget about Connor Pooley (6PPG, 7PPA) and Daylon Mannon’s (5PPG, 5PPA) power play prowess.
In net, it was a mixed bag to start, with projected starter Benjamin Beck being injured, leaving David Tomeo and Tyler Matthews to start the season. Of the two, Tomeo stood out in a big way, really keeping the Black Bears into some games they probably shouldn’t have been. Beck came back, but didn’t live up to expectation and Tomeo took back his spot in net. While his numbers didn’t show it (9-21-6, 1 SO, 3.60 GAA, .901SV%), Tomeo was an anchor in net and then slowly became a mentor to the likes of Andrew Takacs and Anthony Del Tufo later on in the season.
Speaking of Del Tufo, he was one of the many players that came from Team Maryland and the Mercer Chiefs pipeline and were given opportunities to see if they could make it on the NAHL level. Anthony Del Tufo became part of the tandem with Tomeo later in the season, while standing out amongst the Team Maryland alumni. Connor Redden, Mac Brice, Isaac Mbereko, and Jakub Hasek are others who moved across the dressing rooms from the Team Maryland camp to the Black Bears side; while Jude Kurtas impressed in his short tenure with the Black Bears after playing with the Mercer Chiefs 18U, while Maryland native George Vonakis came up from the EHL’s Philadelphia Jr. Flyers to secure a spot on the team.
Granted, the 16-37-5-2 record isn’t what they wanted and having to end their seasons early wasn’t probably in their plans either– but it probably also wasn’t unexpected for the inaugural club; the Vegas Golden Knights probably stole a lot of that good karma for first year clubs. Yet, it could have been worse and they were in it for a while. It’s a good building block for the years to come and if they can keep even 50% of this team for next season, they’ll be better off for it and continue to grow because of it.