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Ice ’Dawg mission: prove Nashville wrong
BHS hockey earns state ‘final four’ bid; motivated by critics of 2006 state crown


The Bearden Ice Dawgs still have something to prove about its 2006 state championship crown, hoping a repeat performance later this month among Nashville’s best teams will silence Music City arrogance. References in the Nashville Tennessean plus apparent high school hockey overconfidence in and around the state capital city are keeping the Ice Dawgs in high gear emotionally.

Making its point clearer still, Bearden has already whipped two of Nashville’s three best teams in state tourney play.


In reference to the Nashville teams boycotting last season’s state tourney due to scheduling conflicts, “The Nashville [Tennessean] writes in the newspaper that the Ravenwood team is the defending state champion, and frankly we’re a little offended by that,” BHS head coach John Cox said.

Those words came after his Ice Dawgs beat Nashville’s No. 2 team, Pope John Paul II, 1-0, then rallied by Music City No. 3 seed Montgomery Bell Academy in round-robin play of opening round state tourney action at the Icearium Saturday, March 3.

“I guess the conclusion is, ‘Knoxville and Memphis don’t count,’” Cox said. “They [Ravenwood] won the [Nashville] city championship last year, so the Tennessean claims Ravenwood is the defending state champion. That’s the way most folks in Nashville that have talked to me, describe it as well.

“We’ve talked about that, and when the [state championship] banner went up some of the Nashville folks have been very derogatory about the tournament that we were in, the games we played against Memphis [teams].”

After crushing Houston 9-0 Sunday morning, the Ice Dawgs carry a perfect 17-0 record into the state “final four.” As East No. 1 seed, BHS will play West No. 2 seed Mt. Juliet in the state semifinals at 7:10 CST Friday, March 16, at Southern Ice Arena in Franklin.

A Bearden victory means playing for the Predator’s Cup, symbol of high school hockey’s state champion, at 1 p.m. CST Saturday, March 17, versus the winner of West No. 1 (Collierville) against East No. 2 (PJP II Knights).

“We’d like a chance to go finish things,” Cox said. “I don’t know how we’ll do, but we’d like a chance to compete.”

Ice Dawg player Chad Miracle said that during the off-season, based on several e-mails, “the Nashville team were giving us grief because we didn’t actually win the state championship because they weren’t in it. We officially won it, they back out of it.

“It feels good to beat a couple of Nashville teams,” Miracle added. “But we still have a long road ahead of us.”

BEARDEN 5 MBA 3

Down 2-0 midway into the second period due in part because “our legs were flat” from the previous game according to Cox, Bearden responded against MBA.

Chad Miracle tapped home a goal in front of the net, assisted by Hunter McLees, at the 5:26 mark of the period.

Less than four minutes later, Daane Blocksma took the puck off the boards behind MBA’s goal, spun around and slapped a 15-foot shot past the goalie with 1:49 left in the second, tying things up 2-2.

“They knew what they had to do, we talked about the things they had to do to overcome the hole that we dug for ourselves, and they took care of it,” Cox said.

Though MBA went back ahead 3-2 less than a minute into the final period, Bearden needed just five seconds to respond.

Miracle scored on another Cox assist, making it 3-3 with 12:15 remaining.

Taking advantage of a power-play chance, the Ice Dawgs went ahead for good with 4:43 left when Blocksma tapped home a loose puck in front of MBA’s net just outside the crease.

Adding a little insurance at the 2:53 mark was Sean Verlinde, as MBA wasn’t able to clear the puck out of the zone. Cox found Verlinde open, and he slapped it in from 25 feet out.

“These guys are real tough, real fast, a lot faster than the teams we’re used to playing,” Miracle said of MBA. “We just toughed it out, skated hard. We came out flat, but we came back with our heart, fought back and won.”

Bearden ended with a 24-23 shots-on-goal advantage.

BEARDEN 1 KNIGHTS 0

Jeff Slack’s goal 19 seconds into the game was all the scoring needed. Nickels and Cox assisted.

“In that game we probably killed four minutes [of penalties] of back-to-back five-on-three [advantages]. And Logan [Baker] was phenomenal,” Cox added about his goalie.

Cox made a special note to praise McLees. “He had a bad motorcycle wreck two or three weeks ago — beat himself up bad, broke his hand. This is his first weekend back, and he’s played very well.”

BHS 9 HOUSTON 0

Nickels led the winners with a hat trick (three goals), followed by Miracle and Cox with two each and Sean Verlinde and Blocksma adding one apiece.

 

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