Goalie Garrett Bennett saved 38 of 41 shots as the No. 10-seeded JPII-CPA Knights upset No. 7 seed Ensworth-Oakland Wednesday night Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville in the battle for the Predators Cup.
“We are coming off of an emotional victory against Ensworth/Oakland,” JPII-CPA coach Justin Clark said. “They had dominated us in the regular season matchup and we understood that our margin for error in this game was going to be extremely slim.
“I am extremely proud of every single member of the 20-player roster. They all contributed to the victory in some way. Nobody outside of our locker room would have predicted that we would be one of the last five teams remaining in the battle for the Predators Cup. “
Things didn’t start off great for JPII, as Ensworth-Oakland took a 1-0 lead with 6:41 remaining in the first period on a goal from Ryan Seibert, assisted by Noah Vollhoffer. JPII-CPA answered back with just 35 seconds left in the period when Dylan Guy tied it at 1.
In the second period, JPII-CPA took a 2-1 lead when John Ernst scored a short-handed goal to give the Knights their first lead of the game. Ensworth-Oakland stormed back in the third period, taking a 3-2 lead on a pair of goals from Vollhoffer.
However, with 1:14 left to play and the JPII-CPA net open, Tommy Chunchukov took a feed from Max Galpin and buried it past Ensworth-Oakland goalie Ethan Roy to send the game into overtime. With less than a minute left in the 3-on-3 overtime period, Ernst struck again – this time on a feed from Chunchukov, sending JPII-CPA into the quarterfinals of the Predators Cup.
“The kids fought hard all night long and were able to get the equalizer with our goalie on the bench with just over a minute to play in regulation and get the winner four minutes into the 3-on-3 overtime,” Clark added.
“In order to be successful, we would have to play winning hockey and capitalize on our chances. All season long, our coaching staff has preached to play for the name on the front of the jersey and not worry about individual statistics. This attitude has really payed off for us during our current winning streak.”
The win is the fourth in a row for JPII-CPA, who have beaten Nolensville-Ravenwood 2, Mt. Juliet, Independence-Summit and now Ensworth-Oakland. JPII-CPA is one of five remaining teams chasing the Predators Cup. The Knights will now face Hendersonville-Station Camp in the quarterfinals on Friday at Centennial Sportsplex B at 6:30 p.m.
“We are ready to embrace our underdog persona and enjoy the moment,” Clark said. “We have won four consecutive games and are playing our best hockey of the season. The pressure is squarely on Hendersonville/Station Camp in this game. They are a very deep team who has been one of the favorites to win the Predators Cup all season.
“We will be prepared to play and look to leave it all on the ice. We have responded to adversity all season long and this game will test us again. Our hockey team is excited for the challenge. This game is a great opportunity for our program to take the next step.”