The Maryland Black Bears of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) have established a partnership with Odenton-based Nelson Hockey, the umbrella organization that includes the Metro Maple Leafs Youth Hockey organization, to create an alliance designed to benefit elite players through greater engagement with the Black Bears players and coaching staff.

The new deal calls for Jr. Black Bears teams to play in the Chesapeake Bay Hockey League in the Upper A or AA Divisions. Tryouts for the new teams begin April 27, at the Piney Orchard Ice Arena, Odenton.

“Sharing the building with the Maryland Black Bears, an NAHL team with highly-skilled players and coaches, sets our program up for success,” said Nelson Burton, director of Nelson Hockey and former Washington Capital. “The Maryland Jr. Black Bears will be competitive with the right players, coaches and interaction with the Maryland Black Bears organization.”

“The foundation of our fan base is built on hockey families,” said Robyn Remick, president of the Maryland Black Bears and Team Maryland of the Eastern Hockey League. “The brand we are building for our teams is incredibly complimentary to the organization Nelson Burton has built. Our players and coaches will continue to spend time with the Team Maryland youth programs in Rockville, and now we’ll have a second channel of local players to work with more intensively.”