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 Maryland Black Bears

Offense Leads the Way for Maryland in Game One Win over Minot

May 18, 2024 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
Maryland Black Bears News Release

The Maryland Black Bears went back to Blaine, Minnesota, representing the East Division as its champions and tasked once again with facing the NAHL's Central Division Champions at Fogerty Arena in a best-of-three series. This time representing the Central Division are the Minot Minotauros, who swept the Austin Bruins in three games before taking out the Bismark Bobcats in four games. After scoring ten goals in their last two games, the Black Bears kept the offense rolling as they put up seven goals in a 7-3 win, putting themselves one win away from an appearance in the Robertson Cup Final.

Maryland got the scoring started on the powerplay with forward Luke Janus letting a wrist shot go from the far circle past the glove of Minot goaltender Brady James to make it 1-0. Less than a minute later, Black Bears' forward Jérémi Tremblay received a pass in the high slot and put the puck top left corner on a wrist shot for a 2-0 lead. Maryland wasn't done there, as 23 seconds later forward Samuel Stitz streaked down the far side and let a wrist shot go top left corner from the far circle to make it 3-0 Black Bears. The Minotauros made a goaltending change after that, replacing James with Lukas Swedin.

Minot got on the scoreboard with a powerplay goal from forward Nicholas Sewecke, who redirected a feed from forward Niklas Ketonen in the slot past Black Bears' goaltender Owen Lepak and in to make it 3-1. But Maryland responded quickly with a goal from forward and captain Dimitry Kebreau just 31 seconds later, tapping home a rebound behind Swedin from a shot from defenseman Luke Amell to make it 4-1. The Black Bears got into some more penalty trouble at the end of the period, however, leading to the Minotauros' second goal of the game on the man advantage. This time it was forward Jack O'Hanisain putting home a rebound on the far side of the net on the backhand to make it 4-2, a score that would hold after one period.

The second period started with another goal from Maryland. This time a shorthanded goal from Kebreau, who got the puck on a bound off of a Minot defenseman and went in on a breakaway, beating Swedin top right corner for a 5-2 lead. The three goal lead didn't last long, as 37 seconds later Minotauros' forward Trevor Stachowiak buried a rebound in the crease on the powerplay to make it 5-3. Minot went three for seven on the powerplay in this hockey game.

After the halfway point, the Black Bears scored two more goals in the second period to put the game away. First, it was forward Jesse Horacek, who tapped home a rebound from an Amell shot on the near side of the net to make it 6-3. Maryland capped off the scoring with one of the more bizarre playoff goals in franchise history. Forward Luke Janus attempted to dump the puck in off the glass on the near side of the rink, but the puck was redirected off the glass and toward the net. Lukas Swedin had committed to playing the puck behind the net and took his eyes off the puck for a split second, allowing the puck to bounce into the empty net as he attempted to recover making it 7-3, a score that would hold as the final. Lepak made 25 saves in the win for Maryland.

Including the regular season, this was the third time the Black Bears scored seven goals in one game, with both previous times coming against Danbury on October 28th in a 7-3 win, and March 30th in a 7-1 win.

The Black Bears now hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and can clinch the series with a win on Saturday in game two. Puck drop for that game is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT at Fogerty Arena. If necessary, game three would be on Sunday, May 20th, at 6:00 p.m. CT. All games can be streamed on NAHLTV.

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