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 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: 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.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 004

TEAM MARYLAND (4-3-1) at NEW YORK APPLECORE

Last Week: Team Maryland came back from the Walpole Showcase splitting the weekend with a 7-4 win over the Railers Jr. Hockey Club, but lost to the Vermont Lumberjacks 3-1. It was the first time this year TM was away from the friendly confines of Piney Orchard.

What to Look For: In their first in-conference weekend set on the road, TM will be trying to keep some kind of hot offense going. Tristan Mock has joined the team and made a big impact last week with a hat trick against the Railers, while Jeff Rebmann and Denys Arkhypenko have been solid on with offensive contributions. This will be a good test on their team, as they are on the road again. They’ll be playing an Applecore team ripe for the picking (pun intended), as they’ve only scored 13 goals in six game, which should give the offense plenty of time to shine.

Bold Prediction: This has the hints of a sweep weekend with a weak Applecore team to start the season. The biggest thing is to not rest on the laurels of what they have done and play down to a level that could be presented to them.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (2-1-1) vs. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Two Weeks Ago: Navy went to Rochester and Erie to play RIT and Mercyhurst. While they dropped the first game against RIT 3-1, they beat Mercyhurst the next night by the same 3-1 scoreline. Nate Hyden has stepped out to be one of the early offensive contributors of this years’ team though we’re only four games in.

What to Look For: The first home games of the season are always a treat, which should help motivate the Middies against a Pitt team that was just over .500 last season. The biggest thing would be finding an offensive trend going their way, while also keeping their own house clean. Hyden has done well early on, but they’ll need more out of Derek Golembrosky, Conner Hyden, and Joe Kelly and have the upperclassmen show the youngsters the way.

Bold Prediction: Homecooking is good and I think it’s good enough for at least one win this weekend. However, Navy needs to play better on the opening games, as they’ve lost their first two opening series games. If they want to set the tone for the rest of the season, getting the first win of the weekend is going to be key for success down the road.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (0-4-0) vs. LEHIGH UNIVERSITY, at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY

Last Week: The Tigers had another tough weekend, losing both games to Rhode Island 5-1 on Friday and 7-3 on Saturday. Towson gave up 112 shots on the weekend after give up 98 shots in the two game set against West Virginia the previous weekend.

What to Look For: There’s going to be a lot of shots and if you like goaltending, these games may not be for the faint of heart. However, you can look at what Ryan Dieter has been doing with four goals and five points in four games and see some kind of hope offensively. That said, that’s where it stops as Collin Mercier and Costa Pizanis haven’t been able to get fired up out of the gate.

Bold Prediction: I can’t say they are going to keep shots under 40 a game because I don’t think it will be. At the same time, I have a better feeling about support coming for Jacob Snyder and Kevin Mackey this weekend than ever, especially against George Mason. This could be a surprising weekend for Towson and at least one win for the weekend.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND TERRAPINS () vs. UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH

Last Month: The Terps played Georgetown, but even after almost a month, no scoresheet, no update online, nothing. The Terps social media game used to be so strong.

What to Look For: Hopefully some solid play from the Terps. My hope is also the Pitt teams bussed down together to cut costs for this trip to Maryland.

Bold Prediction: We’ll get some kind of update from this game, and it’s probably going to be from the Panthers.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN D2 (1-1-0) vs. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, vs. ARMY

Last Week: One game on the weekend again, but it was a loss to Richmond with Sean Bowman getting the lone goal in the defeat.

What to Look For: It’s not only the first home games for the D2 Middies, but it’s also an academy weekend with both Air Force and Army coming into town. Obviously, these kind of rivalry games run deep, so the meaning of these games shouldn’t be overlooked by the teams on both sides of the puck.

Bold Prediction: Could be in tough, but I can see a sweep because of the rivalry games and because of the importance of these games for the Middies personally.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN WOMEN vs. ARMY

Last Week: Navy went to West Chester and ran the show with a 15-1 win on Saturday and an unconfirmed 16-0 win on Sunday. That’s 42 goals in four games for the women. That’s crazy.

What to Look For: Same as the D2 team, it’s an academy weekend and you can bet the Middies are looking for the scoring to continue against their biggest rivals in Army.

Bold Prediction: Goals will not be at a premium and I think that the Middies will take the week, stay undefeated, and stay scoring.

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.”

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 003

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.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 002

TEAM MARYLAND (1-2-1) VS. PHILADELPHIA JR. FLYERS

Last Weekend-ish: A four-game in seven-day set for Team Maryland yielded only one win, but a much better improvement from last season, staying in many of the games– unlike last year when things were not so great. Against the Philadelphia Revolution, they dropped two closely contested games, with Sam Sheppard showing off his playing making skills and Bobby Geier finding the net once during the set. Jay de Ruiter was held off the scoresheet after he ravaged Connecticut’s defense mid-week.

What To Look For: The Jr. Flyers haven’t allowed a goal in either of their games this season, so it’ll be a test for the Team Maryland offense to see if they’ll be able to get a tally on the board. With nine different goal scorers on the season in four games, the wealth has been spread just a bit. They obviously can’t expect de Ruiter to pot four every game, so it’ll be up to the lights of Sheppard, Geier, and Rory Gresham to take the heat off of de Ruiter.

Bold Prediction: Team Maryland has out shot their coverage so far and I think it’ll continue. Whether it will yield two wins remains to be seen, however; I do expect at least one goal to be scored in each game, as that trend can’t go forever. Goalie Armand Charland will be tested and will hopefully keep TM in the games for the weekend.

NAVAL ACADEMY MIDSHIPMEN (1-0-1) at RIT (Friday); at MERCYHURST (Saturday)

Last Weekend: Though the updates were kind of there, the scoresheets aren’t– but Navy was quick to clarify why. In any case, they did split in Morgantown against the Mountaineers; losing in overtime Friday night 3-2, while winning Saturday’s game 3-2.

What To Look For: With output from their younger players, like Nathan Hyden and Daniel Schoenemen, as well as their returnees in Joe Kelly and Conner Hyden; the Middies will be looking forward to start spreading the offensive joy around. The blue line was quite active last year thanks to John Scaccia and Brendan Reynolds, which they will hope will carry them going forward. A travel day between these games, it’s all hands on deck for the Midshipmen this weekend.

Bold Prediction: For some reason, with the travel in there, I sense a split happening. Maybe with RIT being the loss and Mercyhurst being the win. Though, I can definitely see a trend in who will be the top offensive guys on the team– like we saw last year with Derek Golembrosky, Luke Turk, and Alex Vandenberg.

TOWSON UNIVERSITY TIGERS (0-0-0) at WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY MOUNTAINEERS

Last Season: It was a bit of year to forget for the Towson Tigers going 7-21-3 on the season, a far cry from their 17-17-3 record from 2017-18. Luckily, the three top scorers from last year in Ryan Dieter, Costa Pizanis, and Collin Mercier are all back. Dieter has 18 goals and 30 points on the year, bringing his total for his career to 85 points in 83 career games. Jake Snyder played a big role in net for Towson with 1297 saves and had a .905 save percentage despite a 5.16 GAA.

What To Look For: We’ll see what kind of team Towson is this year and how much support– both in goals and within the zone– they can give to Snyder and how much offensive output they’ll be able to have. West Virginia is a solid task for the Tigers, especially since they can use Navy as a measuring stick to what they can expect.

Bold Prediction: Towson went 2-1-0 against West Virginia last year, with their only loss coming in the consolation game of the Crab Pot Tournament at the end of the year. Towson split their opener last season, but I think good fortune could shine on them and they start the season hot with two wins on the road.

STEVENSON UNIVERSITY MUSTANGS (0-0-0) at GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY PATRIOTS (Friday); VS. WEST CHESTER UNIVERSITY GOLDEN RAMS

Last Season: In their second season in club hockey, the Mustangs got better from their 1-win season in their first year. However, a 6-17-0 record was great for Coach Urgo and the “Green Horses” for their second season. With only 14 skaters, they took a toll on themselves, but spread the wealth for scoring with Gary Matyok, Thomas Foschini, Joshua Watterson, and Brandon Scholze were all in double-digits in goals and at a point-per-game or better on the year. Pat Schena was solid in net with a .910 save percentage, but a 4.61 GAA for his troubles.

What To Look For: With a bigger roster and key returning players, Coach Urgo could very well get a solid performance out of his team this season. The bigger roster will definitely help the team as they get deeper in the season, as well as not tire out some of the scoring lines– and maybe even distribute the scoring a little more. With Schena leaving, David Shahady might be the defacto starter, but time will tell if there’s someone behind him to take over those reigns.

Bold Prediction: Personally, I believe they’ll be able to win their opener at George Mason, but they did lose to a deep West Chester team last year and with a quick turnaround from a later evening game to an afternoon game– it could prove a little tough on the legs at the start of the season. However, I fully expect the Green Horses to get one win on the weekend.

Clutch N’ Crab Weekend Preview 001

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

Photo by Jon Pitonzo/FOHS Media Faction

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

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

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

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

Photo via @NavyHockey

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

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

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

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

Photo via @UMCP_Hockey

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

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

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

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

Photo via @TeamMarylandEHL

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

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

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

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

Black Bears Create Pipeline to NAHL and Beyond

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On Wednesday, the Maryland Black Bears further their push to keep the best players from Maryland in Maryland, as well as bringing in an outside sourceĀ  to help keep their pipeline strong. The Black Bears announced they have formed a partnership with Team Maryland in their Eastern Hockey League and AAA programs, as well was a partnership with the Mercer (NJ) Chiefs.

It’s almost a no-brainer that Team Maryland and the Black Bears would have a partnership, as the brass of Team Maryland was a big pusher when it came to talk to Black Bear Sports Group about bringing in a high-level junior league to the Maryland area. This working partnership will allow the Black Bears to display Maryland-grown talent, while also give incentive for kids to play on the Team Maryland squads– as if there wasn’t one prior.

Despite being in New Jersey, the Mercer Chiefs are also connected, as the Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton Township, NJ is one of the arenas that Black Bear Sports Group has under their umbrella. The Chiefs program runs from the Squirt Minor level to the U18 AAA level, which having this not only gives another region to pick from in the Mid-Atlantic, but also gives the younger players something to strive for as they advance in hockey.

The one thing that the Black Bears and this ownership group is doing is creating a bit of a family atmosphere to this team. While some might think it’s a little too much of staying inside the bubble, the fact they’re trying to make the most of their investments not only in Maryland– but with all their holdings.

If their alumni is anything, the pipeline is strong with Team Maryland. Sam Anas (Iowa Wild), Mikie Chen (Knoxville Ice Bears), William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Nick Sorkin (Wheeling Nailers) all came up through the Team Maryland system at one point or another, but had to move elsewhere to get bigger exposure than they had. With the NAHL now putting stakes in the ground– odds are a lot of the next class of players will not need to go far in order to get the exposure others had to leave home to get.

Closer Look at Maryland’s NAHL Team; Team Name Coming Soon

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As you may have seen here, I’m quite excited for the NAHL to come to Maryland. For someone who played in the Maryland hockey system, this is something that was lacking when I was growing up. However, with the wave of players being born in Maryland and not having the chance to play at home, this is the perfect time to keep the players in the area and play a high level of hockey.

“We’ve worked closely with the people who run Team Maryland and we thought an opportunity like this would give local kids a path to college scholarships without having to leave the area,” mentioned Ryan Scott, VP of the Black Bear Sports Group, owners of Piney Orchard– the home of this new Maryland team. “There’s a lot of times where players are developing in Maryland for pee-wees and bantams, but then have to go to the Northeast for prep schools to get really noticed. With this, we can keep the players here and have them develop that way.”

Working with Team Maryland– who has a minority stake in Piney Orchard, as well as seeing the talent in and around the area with high schoolers and club teams, the hope for this NAHL squad is that they’ll have a local flavor that will help out with getting people interested in the team.

“It’s still a couple years away,” Scott stated about the local flavor, “But this will be a great fit for the players who play with Team Maryland. We’ll be able to retain them and have them play locally rather than having them uproot and move away from home.”

There have been past teams who have been in a developmental league, but as Scott told me– they were a pay-for-play situation, which is no different from youth hockey. With the NAHL, the league is tuition-free so the players won’t incur costs while playing. But NCAA Division I wasn’t in mind for this instance.

“If that happens (D1 hockey), it’s a byproduct,” said Scott. “It’s not really our goal to bring in the NCAA. We wanted to make sure the players who grew up in this area could stay in this area. Also, to be able to attract scouts for this players in this area is always a plus for the development of hockey in the state.”

Another note that I had mentioned before is the placement of Piney Orchard as the home base. Black Bear Sports Group has managed Piney Orchard for some time and Scott had said that it wasn’t in the best shape, but it was still the option they wanted.

“Piney needed some love,” mentioned Scott. “We spent $700,000 renovating the lighting, the boards, the front offices– everything we could think of to bring it up to a modern standard. We also have that great facility that the Capitals left behind when they had their facility here, so the players will have a top notch place to train. Also, while Piney is a little more remote, the arena is better situation for what we wanted than Iceworld in Abingdon.”

Also mentioned was the concession, which Scott said will be run by an unnamed local Italian eatery with a liquor license. Therefore, young and old can enjoy the games– maybe with some lovely Natty Boh.

As this is published, there is not an official team name, but one could be announced but the end of the week or early next week. I was reassured that the Maryland flag color scheme will be in use for it. Other front office decisions will be made in the near future as far as coaching, general manager, and the like.

Stay tuned here for all the updated happenings and more as it comes with this new Maryland team in the NAHL.