Maryland Black Bears
When it comes to minor hockey in North America, the state of Maryland might not be the first place that comes to mind. However, in recent years, the Maryland Black Bears, based in Odenton, have been making a name for themselves in the hockey world. As part of the North American Hockey League (HL), the Black Bears have had their fair share of historic upsets and wins, making their mark in the league and carving out a place in Maryland’s sports landscape. Let’s take a look at some of the most memorable moments in Maryland Black Bears history.
Inception and First Season (2018-2019)
Founded in 2018, the Maryland Black Bears joined the HL as an expansion team for the 2018-2019 season. Led by head coach Clint Mylymok, the team had a successful inaugural season, finishing second in the East Division with a record of 29-25-6. They also made it to the playoffs, where they narrowly lost to the Northeast Generals in a best-of-three series. Despite their early exit, the Black Bears made a strong first impression, laying the foundation for future success.
First Playoff Win and Upset Against Johnstown Tomahawks (2019-2020)
In their second season, the Maryland Black Bears made history by winning their first playoff game in franchise history. In the first round of the playoffs, they faced off against the Johnstown Tomahawks, the first seed in the East Division. The Black Bears went on to upset the Tomahawks, winning the best-of-five series in four games. It was a stunning achievement for a team that had only been in existence for two years. The series also saw Black Bears goaltender David Tomeo post a 1.50 goals against average and a .953 save percentage, earning him the title of HL Playoff Most Valuable Player.
Strong Start to the 2020-2021 Season
The 2020-2021 season saw the Maryland Black Bears off to a strong start, with a record of 12-9-3-1 in their first 25 games. They were led by a talented roster of players, including forward Jackson Sterrett, who was among the league’s top scorers with 20 points. Goaltender Michael Morelli also proved to be a crucial part of the team’s success, with a .927 save percentage and a 2.33 goals against average.
HL Expansion and Addition of New Teams (2021-2022)
The 2021-2022 season is set to be an exciting one for the HL, with the addition of two new teams. The Black Bears will welcome the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks and the El Paso Rhinos to the East Division, adding to the growing competitiveness of the league. This expansion also presents an opportunity for the Black Bears to continue to make their mark and challenge for the top spot in the division.
Memorable Wins Against East Division Rivals
In their short history, the Maryland Black Bears have had some memorable wins against their East Division rivals, solidifying themselves as a competitive force in the league. One such victory came during the 2019-2020 season when they beat the Johnstown Tomahawks, who were the reigning division champions at the time. Another notable win was against the Jamestown Rebels in the 2018-2019 season, where the Black Bears scored a late goal to win their first ever game in franchise history.
Strong Fan Support and Community Involvement
One of the most special elements of the Maryland Black Bears organization is their strong fan support and community involvement. Despite being a relatively new team, the Black Bears have quickly gained a loyal fan base, with their home games at Piney Orchard Ice Arena often sold out. The team also actively participates in community events, such as visiting local schools and hospitals, and hosting youth hockey clinics to promote the sport and give back to the community.
From their inception in 2018, the Maryland Black Bears have quickly established themselves as a competitive force in the HL. With memorable wins, record-setting performances, and a strong fan base, the Black Bears are making their mark in the world of minor hockey. As they continue to grow and evolve, one can only imagine the future historic upsets and wins that will be added to their impressive resume.