It was a classic battle of an unstoppable force and an immovable object. The Brentwood Bruins boasted the highest-scoring offense in the Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey league – averaging nearly seven goals per contest. The Montgomery Bell Academy defense has surrendered a minuscule 1.4 goals per game, so something had to give.
In one of the most fast-paced, back-and-forth games of the season, MBA took down the undefeated Bruins 5-4 Wednesday night at Centennial Sportsplex. The loss snaps a 17-game winning streak for Brentwood.
“We knew what we were up against,” MBA captain Blake Robison said. “They were an undefeated team for a reason, but every guy in the locker room believes in each other. We came out and just played our guts out and gave ourselves a chance to win. That’s all you can ask for.”
“Brentwood is a quality team; their coaches do a great job,” MBA coach Tim Kovick added. “We were in that same position last year, going undefeated, going through the double elimination in the upper tier, and we knew the pressure was on them.”
MBA jumped all over Brentwood early, taking a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from Brandon Macdonald-Surman and Clayton Malone. Brentwood answered with a little over three minutes remaining when Justin Knapp tallied one of his game-high three goals.
The Bruins high-powered offense flexed its muscle in the second, taking a 3-2 lead on goals Nate Biron and Knapp. This time, it was MBA who scored with minutes to go before intermission when Ben Evans knotted it up 3-3 heading into the final period.
“We’ve played Brentwood and took them into overtime, we’ve played them tough in the middle of the regular season, and we thought after watching Hendersonville play them tight that if we could get them in the third period, they give up goals in the third period,” Kovick said. “We just felt like if we could get them there, then we had a chance. Against an undefeated team like Brentwood, all you want to do is have a chance and we got it.”
Brentwood appeared to be in the driver’s seat to an 18th-straight win when Knapp buried another one in the back of the net for the hat trick just over two minutes into the final period. However, Robert Cowan evened it up 4-4 just minutes later and MacDonald-Surman scored the go-ahead goal with nine minutes remaining.
“We trust the guys in net,” Robison said. “More than that, we trust the guys in front of them to just go out and play and limit shots and everything they need to do to help our goalies out. It’s a team game and that goes all the way back to the goaltenders as well.
“We have three goaltenders that have never played varsity hockey,” Kovik added. “Two of them are college-bound soccer players. So, we understand what we’re made of and that’s a team that can’t allow many shots. Part of our offense is making sure that we can keep our ground on defense.”
The strategy worked as MBA held Brentwood to just 14 shots on goal to the Big Red’s 37. For the final nine minutes, MBA goalie Henry Hylbert kept the always-dangerous Bruin offense off the board, forcing a winner-take-all game on Monday night at 6 p.m. to decide the Predators Cup champion.
“We were right where we wanted to be,” Robison said. “It was a great battle. Brentwood is a good team, we’re a good team and when a team like that gets a goal scored against them you know they’re going to respond. So, we expected a back-and-forth game and that’s what we got.”