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 Maryland Black Bears

Maryland Drop Two in New Jersey; Kebreau Lights the Lamp for Most All-Time

March 2, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Maryland Black Bears News Release

MIDDLETOWN, NJ- Coming off clinching a playoff berth last weekend, the Maryland Black Bears headed up to New Jersey for the last time in the regular season. Knowing they would always get the best out of the opposition, the Black Bears were caught a bit off-guard this weekend and were swept for the first time since November against the same New Jersey team.

FRIDAY MARCH 1st, 2024: BLACK BEARS (2) at New Jersey (4): It was a first period to forget for Maryland, with New Jersey notching three goals against the Black Bears. It started with Jack Hillier getting behind the defense at the blue line to go in on a breakaway to beat Owen Lepak to make it 1-0 4:07 into the game. While Maryland would see some chances to level the score, New Jersey struck again right after the halfway point of the period after a defensive zone turnover led to Dominik Bartecko ripping home his 20th of the year to make it 2-0 New Jersey. With 1:31 left in the period, sustained pressure from New Jersey allowed Logan Renkowski to finish the scoring for New Jersey with his 10th of the year to make it 3-0 as the teams went to the intermission.

The Black Bears would come out strong in the second period, dictating the play and keeping sustained pressure in their offensive zone. They would finally get on the board 7:34 into the middle frame with Jeremi Tremblay finishing off an odd man rush by batting the puck out of mid-air to get Maryland on the board with his 17th of the year. The Black Bears kept pressing and thanks to a power play would get to within one, as Sam Stitz had the puck redirect off of him and into the New Jersey net for his seventh of the season and to make it a 3-2 score line. However, penalties against Maryland would end up costly, as a late power play for New Jersey saw Renkowski net another from the point to make it 4-2 heading into the final frame.

Maryland continued to press in the third knowing they needed two to equalize the game. Lepak made big saves at one end to keep the deficit at only two, but luck wasn't on the Black Bears side with middle chances and shots going off the crossbar being what stymied Maryland. Even with a late power play and pulled goalie, the Black Bears couldn't find the answer and would drop Friday's affair 4-2.

SATURDAY MARCH 2nd, 2024: BLACK BEARS (4) at New Jersey (8): The Black Bears got off to an early lead with Matthew Croxall netting his 10th of the season off a rebound from Michael Urgo to make it 1-0 Maryland. On that play, Dimitry Kebreau got credited with an assist to give him his 100th NAHL point. Maryland continued to dominate the offensive play in the first half of the period, keeping New Jersey off the shot counter. However, New Jersey found some cracks, getting an odd-man rush after the media timeout and Logan Renkowksi netted a rebound off the back boards to tie the game up. The lone penalty for Maryland in the frame proved costly, as Reece Brednich scored his eighth of the year with the extra man to make it 2-1. Maryland tried to get the equalizer, but New Jersey kept the threats to the outside to keep the score 2-1 after 20 minutes.

It was a second period to forget for Maryland, as things didn't go the way they had hoped. Five minutes into the frame, Cooper Eberhardt made it 3-1 New Jersey, ripping a shot through traffic. Maryland put pressure on New Jersey's net, but couldn't find a hold. Just past midway, Jack Hillier came over the blue line and put home a wrister to make it 4-1 for New Jersey on the power play. The Black Bears did get one back on a power play of their own with Kebreau one-timing a shot to make it 4-2. That goal for Kebreau was his 45th all-time for the Black Bears, making him the all-time goal scoring leader for Maryland, passing Luke Mountain for that feat. That celebration was short lived with New Jersey potting another power play goal, this time Dominick Bartecko would get his 21st of the year. Late in the frame, Nikita Meshcheryakov picked up a rebound off a breakaway to make it 6-2 after 40 minutes of play.

With a big hill to climb, the Black Bears got onto the board early with Sam Stitz ripping home his eighth of the year from the slot to cut the New Jersey lead to 6-3. Maryland kept pressing trying to build and with a power play towards the middle of the frame game Stitz his second goal of the night with a wrister from the faceoff dot to cut the lead more. Though they had sustainable pressure in the third, Maryland could not find two goals before Dominick Rivelli scored the empty netter to make it 7-4. A late penalty would give Bartecko another power play goal to make it 8-4, the eventual final.

The Black Bears are on the road again next weekend, as they travel to New Hampshire for the last time in the regular season to take on the Mountain Kings. Coverage can be found on NAHL TV.

Write up courtesy of Scott Wasilewski

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