By Ken Lay
OLIVE BRANCH, Miss — The Knoxville Warriors may have lost all three of their games in the 2017 Blue Division State High School Hockey Tournament recently at the Midsouth Ice House. But that didn’t sully a successful season.
“Unfortunately, we went 0-3 down there but I thought it was an extremely competitive hockey and we were in every game that we played,” Knoxville interim coach Ed Mackle said. “It was good clean hockey and we have some good experience from this.”
The Warriors finished second in the Knoxville Amateur Hockey Association League and they were the only team to beat eventual State Champion Farragut during the league season. Knoxville also played Farragut in the Moore Cup Championship Game in Knoxville before both team headed off to suburban Memphis to tangle with each other and the top two teams from West Tennessee. Christian Brothers and two-time defending Blue Division State Champion Germantown represented that side of the Volunteer State.
“We finished second in the league and we did get a win over Farragut,” said Mackle, who replaced head coach Dave Roulier, who stepped aside due to illness midway through the season. “Dave had to step aside and that was kind of tough but I’ve coached most of our players at different levels.”
Mackle noted that Roulier was present during the postseason and also appeared at practice several times.
Knoxville opened the tournament on Saturday, March 11 against the Admirals and gave Farragut a tough battle before coming up on the short end of a 5-3 decision.
Carson Rogers, Nick Mackle and Sam Hale all scored for the Warriors in the game against their rivals.
Ben Baungardner and Kenny Richter each scored two goals for the Admirals, who won the state crown without a senior on the roster. Ryan Preiss had Farragut’s other marker in the contest.
The Warriors, which had only three seniors (Alex Glaza, Andrew Roulier and Phillip Lusby) on their roster this season, certainly impressed Farragut coach Jeff Lindsay.
“The Warriors were the one team in Knoxville to beat us this year and they were certainly capable of doing it again down there,” Lindsay said. “They’re a great team and they work hard, but we just played well.
“I’m not taking anything away from Bearden or the [Knoxville] Knights, but every time we played the Warriors, it was classy. I’ve coached with Ed Mackle for years and we’re all friends. We were competitors down there, but we came together as one city. We ate dinner together and we hung out at the hotel together.”
After falling to their Knox County rivals, the Warriors dropped a 3-2 decision to Christian Brothers despite getting a pair of tallies from Hale.
The Warriors closed their stay in Mississippi with a 4-2 loss to Germantown. There, Knoxville got goals from Mitchell Bliss and Pete Bunch.