While the Preds were playing the Jets on Monday night, week six of the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) was swinging into gear. Blackman-Stewart’s Creek was looking to snap a losing streak against the Tennessee Outlaws. Despite a strong effort in the second, Outlaws handily made off with an 8-1 victory.
The puck dropped and the teams quickly jockeyed for position. Blackman needed only a minute to make the game’s first offensive maneuver as Jackson Taylor split the Outlaws defense and released a quick wrister. Outlaws goalie Brent Kitchens was able to make the stop and instead of icing the puck, played it off the boards allowing Outlaws Braydon McCandless to get a breakaway but was denied by Blackman’s Jacob Gomez. Undeterred, the Outlaws continued to pepper the Blackman defensive zone. No shot found its mark despite the heavy traffic in front of Gomez and momentum quickly swung back in favor of Blackman. This allowed Chris Hirt to make a shot at a sharp angle and Griffin Thompson to try to rebound the shot deep in the slot, but Kitchens easily tracked the puck and froze it.
The continued pressure by Blackman forced the Outlaws to take a penalty as John Goodson was called for holding on a Blackman drive and special teams rolled out for their first look of the night. Blackman began the power play well, setting up the play and passing back and forth. They weren’t able to find the shot though and through some aggressive penalty killing, the Outlaws were able to strip the puck away and bring the play down to the Blackman zone. Their efforts struck gold as Jacob Heinrich stuffed the puck between the pads of Gomez and give the Outlaws a 1-0 lead on a shorthanded goal at 8:13. Blackman eventually regained control of the puck and offensive zone with Wyatt Burt and Chris Hirt once again being denied chances by Kitchens who was swallowing pucks up left and right. With the penalty killed, the Outlaws once again pulled momentum their way in what was becoming a vicious tug of war between the teams. With the renewed pressure and less then a minute after killing the penalty, Outlaws Jacob Fink made a nice little play between the Blackman defense and elevated the puck over Gomez’s shoulder to put the Outlaws up 2-0 at 5:44.
With two goals in place, the Outlaws firmly pulled the momentum their way, never allowing Blackman to gain it back. The Blackman defensive zone started taking on the looks of a shooting gallery as shot after shot was fired from the blue line, sharp angles, and pucks bounced like a pinball in the crease. Once again, the pressure paid off as Blackman could not get the puck out of their end and Outlaws John Deppen made a pass from top of the left circle to Braydon McCandless who was all alone in the slot and easily beat Gomez to make it 3-0 with just 11 seconds remaining. The team wasn’t done though as Jacob Heinrich made it 4-0 for his second point of the night with just four seconds remaining as the frame closed.
“We just played a good team effort tonight,” said Jacob Heinrich of the Outlaws. “Finally playing like a team which we hadn’t done recently and really turned it around this game.”
Blackman looked to get back on the right side of things in the middle frame as the Logan Haynie committed a slash to give Blackman another chance at the power play. Cole McDowell hit the post, but the Outlaws killed it. They easily resumed their scoring ways as Heinrich tallied his third goal and a hat trick at 9:02 of the second as McCandless and Deppen worked together to get the puck across ice to Heinrich, who deflected the it off the post behind Gomez and make it 5-0 Outlaws. Blackman needed get on the board as two more goals could initiate the league clock run rule, bringing the game to a quick close. Blackman found their answer from Jeffrey Stanton, who scratched Kitchens shutout attempt. Stanton received a pass from Aubrey Dickson and through traffic flipped puck over his shoulder and banked it off the crossbar behind him. Blackman was finally on the board to make the game 5-1.
After the goal, penalties started to be handed out as the teams started being more physical and chirping each other much to the chagrin of the refs. The Outlaws received the brunt of the officials’ ire at one point being placed on a four on three penalty kill due to the refs disagreeing with the some words from the Outlaws bench and Haynie being called for a slash. Blackman received a penalty for a hold. Each team’s penalty kill was up to the tasks and dispatched them with ease. The remainder of the period saw no goals, but more impressive goal playing from Kitchens as he continued to stop pucks which found their way to him.
“Honestly it’s just a little bit of self control,” said Outlaws Head Coach Dan Heinrich on his team’s bench minors. “Guys got to keep their mouth shut a little bit and not retaliate when someone takes a shot at them. We clean that little bit up and it will be nice and easy going.”
With everyone calmed down, teams headed into the final frame. Once again, the Outlaws continued bringing the offense. Blackman was unable to keep up and made to pay as Randal Bailey scored off a wrap around and elevated the puck over Gomez to put them up 6-1. The offense continued and Gomez made stops, but no goalie is able to do it by himself. Another goal was scored by Michael Embry unassisted as he shot into traffic and the puck deflected off a Blackman player. The renewed pressure forced Blackman to commit a penalty with Evan Myers taking a seat for two, but they were able to kill the penalty. The final goal was scored at 3:02 of the third as Jacob Henrich netted his fourth goal of the night. Final score was 8-1 Outlaws.
Outlaws Kitchens faced 26 shots with only one goal allowed compared to Blackman’s Gomez who faced 35 shots with eight goals allowed. Blackman’s Head Coach Jeff Stanton after the game said Kitchens was their biggest enemy tonight despite the loss.
“Their goalie played out of his mind. He’s our biggest enemy.” said Stanton. “Our guys were shooting, just couldn’t get nothing by him. Our positioning was a little off. We need to be more disciplined with our positioning. We need to start using our slap shots. Nobody took one slap shot. everyone was winding up with a wrist shot so we will be working on that. Our boys hustled really well, but we’ve got to get shooting a little harder.”
After the game, Outlaws Head Coach Dan Heinrich said he was proud his guys effort, noting they seemed to have just a bit more push than the other side.
“I thought it was a great game,” said Heinrich. “Our guys just had a little bit more push, a little bit more energy it seemed like through the whole game.”
On the other side, Blackman’s Chris Hirt said the team played well, just needs to step up on defense more and also gave his respect to Kitchens.
“I think we played a pretty good game tonight,” said Hirt. “More physical than our last games. We want to give props to the Outlaws, especially their goalie. Our defense needs to stay back a little and help out more. Other than that, I think we played a pretty good game even with the loss.”
Blackman-Stewart’s Creek will take the ice on November 27th as they play Montgomery Bell Academy at Centennial Sportsplex, Rink A at 7:40pm. The Outlaws will also be at Centennial Sportsplex on November 29th as they take on Hendersonville-Station Camp on Rink B at 8:30pm.