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'09 Preds Cup belongs to the Irish

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
Father Ryan wins first hockey title in school history

The road to the 2009 Predators Cup – which began back in October – concluded this past weekend with the Father Ryan Fighting Irish taking home their first title as Tennessee State Champions. They defeated the defending-champion Pope John Paul II Knights in front of a packed house at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin by a score of 4-1.

The 2009 Predators Cup Preliminary Series was held in late February, with eight Tennessee high school hockey teams competing in a round-robin tournament at A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin.

The eight-team tournament was broken up into Blue and Gold divisions, with seeding determined by results in independent league play.

Blue Division Seed Record Points
Pope John Paul II Knights Nashville’s No. 3 seed 3-0-0 6
Warriors Knoxville’s No. 1 seed 2-1-0 4
Germantown Red Devils Memphis’ No. 2 seed 1-1-1 3
Centennial Cougars Nashville's No. 2 seed 1-1-1 3

Gold Division Seed Record Points
Father Ryan Fighting Irish Nashville’s No. 1 seed 3-0-0 6
Hendersonville Commandos Nashville's No. 4 seed 2-1-0 4
Metro Pirates Knoxville’s No. 2 seed 1-2-0 2
North Mississippi Monarchs Memphis’ No. 2 seed 0-3-0 0

The top-two teams from the respective divisions of the Preliminary Series advanced to the Championship Series, which took place March 6-7 at A-Game Sportsplex. The first semifinal game featured back-to-back defending Preds Cup Champs – the JP II Knights –taking on Hendersonville in what was a re-match of last year’s semifinal game, a game JP II won en route to the title. This year, the Knights again advanced to championship game with a 6-1 win over Hendersonville.

In the second semifinal, Nashville’s top seed Father Ryan, regular-season champ in the GNASH (Greater Nashville Area Scholastic Hockey) league, faced the Warriors, a Knoxville-area team whose underdog story is highlighted by a recently injured starting goaltender being replaced by one of the team’s skaters. Father Ryan defeated the Warriors 5-3. The consolation game featured Hendersonville losing 4-2 to the Warriors.

The Nashville Predators will honor the Father Ryan Fighting Irish as the 2009 Preds Cup Champs during the first intermission of their March 28 game against the Los Angeles Kings as part of the club’s “Salute to State Champs,” an ongoing effort to recognize high school state champions in the Middle Tennessee area.

Highlights from the tournament include:
-A JP II Knights vs. Hendersonville semifinal game that was a re-match of one of last year’s semifinal clashes.
-The first Predators Cup semifinal appearance for Father Ryan, and the school’s first Predators Cup title in the nine-season existence of the Cup.
-The first time in tournament history that three Nashville-area teams were among the final four teams.
-A Knoxville team reached the semifinals for the third consecutive year.
-It was just the second time in the tournament’s 10-year history that the Memphis area has not been represented in the final four. The other time was when Brentwood and the Nashville South Sharks advanced to the finals in 2002.
-Hendersonville became the first Nashville public school to advance to the Predators Cup semifinals in back-to back years.

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Past Preds Cup Champions

The Nashville Predators established the Predator Cup during the 1999-00 season as part of the team’s mission to increase the visibility of hockey on the amateur level in Tennessee. Since then, six teams from Middle Tennessee and three teams from Memphis have won the Cup.

When the Nashville Predators arrived in 1998 there were no high school hockey leagues and less than eight scholastic teams statewide. Currently, more than 30 high school teams from Knoxville, Memphis and the Nashville area compete in independent league play for the eight-team seeding placement into the state tournament. The Preds Cup serves as a platform to highlight the top Tennessee high school hockey teams, as well as community outreach initiative supported by the Preds.

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