The Pope John Paul II-CPA Knights and Franklin-Hume Fogg Rebels squared off Monday night, battling to hoist the Hine Cup in the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) playoffs at the Ford Ice Center in Antioch. After a strong first period from Franklin-Hume Fogg, JPII-CPA couldn’t recover, falling 4-1 to the Rebels.
The Knights had the advantage early on winning the initial face off, but Franklin scooped the puck up and easily transitioned into the offensive zone and set up shop. The Rebels only needed 57 seconds to find the back of the net, as Stephen Doherty wristed a shot from the blue line, beating Knights goalie Garrett Bennett to get Franklin-Hume Fogg on the board. This appeared to wake up JPII-CPA as the Knights stepped up their forecheck to generate plays, but the Rebels once again took control and kept Bennett on his toes with shots from Evan Brown and Rolando Lopez. JPII’s Dylan Guy found himself on a breakaway, and for a moment the crowd was silent. But Franklin-Hume Fogg goalie Price Wynn denied him, keeping the Knights off the board.
Whether it was the ice, the puck or sticks, the Knights were unable to spend any quality time in the Rebel’s end with much of the game being played in the Knight’s own defensive end. John Ernst and Connor Bennett saw the only other good look of the first for JPII as they had a two-on-one against a lone Rebel defender. Ernst saucer passed the puck to Bennett, but was unable to score with Wynn reading the play easily and gloving the puck. The Rebels scored twice more in the final minutes of the first to take a commanding 3-0 lead as the period closed.
The Knights struggled to prevent the shutout. They spent more quality time in the Rebel’s end, but just could not solve Wynn. Dylan Guy and Benjamin Ennis had a few good looks, but the puck luck did not come. Finally, at 11:10 Max Galpin broke through. Wynn who moved into the butterfly to block the lower part of the net, what he did not expect was Guy to deflect the puck as he dropped, sailing it over his shoulder and into the net.
The final period brought the opportunities the Knights were looking for. Franklin-Hume Fogg took several penalties thanks to a few plays that were more than physical. A 5-on-4 turned into a 5-on-3 with plenty of chances for the Knights to get what they were looking for, but Wynn had their number the entire night. The dagger came at 3:12 of the third when Lopez scored his second point of the night, slipping past the Knights defense and getting the puck between Bennett’s pads.
Despite the loss and end of the season, Knights head coach Justin Clark was proud of his team’s effort throughout the long season.
“We had a lot of young players really develop this season,” Clark said. “We had a very slow start to the season. (We) didn’t have a win in our first six games. We had to come together as a team, win six of our last eight games. Beating Ravenwood was an emotional victory for us. We hadn’t beaten them in a long time. It was a big accomplishment for our team.
“Obviously, we were going for the victory tonight. We came up a little bit short, ran into a goaltender who was hot and couldn’t capitalize on our chances. We have so many (players who can make an impact). The future is bright indeed next season for the Knights.”