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Bearden Ice Dawgs 9-0, as ’06 champs beat FHS in fight-shortened game

The crowds are much smaller than a crisp September evening of Bearden-Farragut rivalry football, and nothing to compare with a packed, vibrating gym ready to explode with each shot an Admiral or Bulldog sinks. But Bearden-Farragut ice hockey at the Icearium on winter Thursday nights can get feisty. Especially the closing minutes of a Jan. 18 battle eventually won by the unbeaten BHS IceDawgs 4-1.

Due to a pair of fights breaking out seconds apart, referee Rodney Tocco and rink manager Steve Clough agreed to suspend the final 2:14 of the third and final period.

“The decision was made because the guy from Farragut deliberately went after a guy from Bearden …,” Tocco said. “He went right after the guy uncontrollably. And then I was advised by the rink manager to run the clock for the rest of the game.”

Such drastic measures are “unusual in this area,” Tocco said, adding that with only a four-team league “tensions are going to build up because they’re seeing each other so much.”

Clough added, “There were a couple of individuals that didn’t want to play, they’d rather fight.”

Though Farragut head coach Cliff Kirk admitted his team’s “built-up frustration” about being on the verge of losing its fourth straight game to the defending state champs sparked the brawls, Bearden head coach John Cox expressed nothing but praise for his archrival.

“It’s unfortunate the game ended the way it did, but you’ve got to give compliments to the Farragut team, they competed very hard and played very well,” Cox said. “The Bearden-Farragut games have been high-spirited all year, very intense, relatively close.”

Bearden, 9-0 and easily atop the Knoxville Amateur Hockey Association standings, was led offensively by Andrew Nickels’ hat trick (three goals), while Hunter McLees added one.

Jeff Slack had a hat trick of his own with three assists. Jay Cox added two, while Sean Verlinde, Michael Vekasi, Chad Miracle and McLees each had one assist.

BHS led in shots-on-goal 17-14.

In addition to the stat leaders, “I thought Miracle played well, Logan [Baker, goalie] always plays well,” Cox said. “The boys have been playing well, we have a ton of seniors. … Our senior leadership has been very good, and I’m just very, very proud of the boys.”

The Admirals (5-4 record) cut an early 2-0 IceDawgs lead in half thanks to Mike Krahl’s goal with 3:10 left in the first period. Assists came from Jesse Volpe and John Geissburger.

Farragut bounced back from a 7-0 blowout loss against Bearden in the teams’ first match-up to having a pair of leads on BHS in their third meeting before losing 3-2.

Kirk senses progress.

“This game, I think at times we were really out-playing them,” Kirk said. “I think they out-hit us and beat us to loose pucks. But I think we really played well until halfway into the third period.”

Individually, “Jeremy Johnson played well on defense,” Kirk said. “I thought our defense played well overall. We really kept their shots down.”

For the entire season, “James Dickinson always plays well for us, he’s our leading scorer,” Kirk said


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