The Maryland Black Bears scored two powerplay goals en route to a 3 – 1 win over the visiting New Jersey Titans to complete a weekend sweep over the defending Robertson Cup Champions. It was the second time in the Titans eight-year history that they were swept during the opening weekend (they lost to the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Knights (now Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks) the first two games in a home and home series to begin the 2017-18 season).
Maryland’s Samuel Stitz opened the scoring with 6:41 remaining in the first period. After Colman Nee and the Black Bears’ Kal Essenmacher were called for delay of game penalties respectively, action resumed with four-on-four hockey. After the ensuing faceoff inside the Titans zone was won by Stitz, the puck went back to Kaleb Tiessen at the far side point. Tiessen skated up the boards and started to cut the net and he took a wrist shot from the faceoff dot that was saved Zak Brice. As Brice tried to control the rebound, he made a successive save on Adam Schankula but Stitz kept poking at the puck and the biscuit eventually went past Brice and into the net to give Maryland a 1 – 0 lead.
Johnny McMahon scored his first NAHL goal on a beautiful snipe to tie the contest at one with 8:50 remaining in the middle stanza. Ryan Novo picked up the loose puck at his own near side faceoff dot and brought it up through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Novo gained the line, he made a cross-ice pass to a breaking McMahon down the wing. As he reached the faceoff dot, McMahon took a wrist shot that beat Maryland’s goaltender William Hakansson high, short side to even it at one.
With 1:25 remaining in the second period, the Titans’ Tyler Chenevert was called for tripping to give the Black Bears the man advantage. Tiessen set up the play behind his own net and made an outlet pass to Gabriel Westling at the Black Bears blueline and he skated through center ice and into the offensive zone. As Westling gained the line, he turned to his right and sent a pass back to Luke Van Why at the near side point. Van Why took a shot that was deflected by Schankula out front and past Brice to give Maryland a 2 – 1 lead.
Marcus Sang was called for roughing at 7:01 into the third period to give Maryland the man advantage. A minute and forty seconds later, the Black Bears Sean Kilcullen doubled the home team’s lead. As time was winding down on the powerplay, Maryland’s Brad McNeill brought the puck out of his own zone up and along the near side boards and into the Titans end. As he gained the line, McNeill stopped at the top of the faceoff dot and passed the puck back to Christian Catalano. As Catalano went to the faceoff dot, he made a cross-ice pass to Kilcullen who took a one-timer that beat Brice and close out the scoring.
Brice, who had to leave the game with six minutes remaining, played extremely well have stopped having stopped 45 of 48 shots (Ben Charette replaced him and made a save). Hakansson turned aside 17 of 18 shots. Click here for the box score.
The Titans now will leave early Tuesday morning for flight to Minneapolis as the league’s annual showcase begins on Wednesday when the Titans face the Odessa Jackalopes.