INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. — Kahlie Singletary didn’t say anything to the four players on her girls’ Tier II 19U hockey team who are from Nashville.
Singletary also lives in Nashville. She knows her players stay in touch over social media, so there was no reason for her to have a serious conversation with them this past weekend.
Everything that needed to be said already had been.
On Thursday, two days after an EF-3 tornado ripped through the Nashville area, the Nashville Jr. Predators boarded a flight for North Carolina. They had to leave their hometown as it attempted to recover from the deadly storm and focus on winning the 2020 USA Hockey Southeastern District Tournament.
“I’d say for the girls from Nashville, absolutely [they] felt that. It was one of those kind of heavy things,” said Singletary, the Predators’ coach. “You’re going, ‘What? What happened? This doesn’t happen to us.’ I guess it does.”
Despite the destruction back home, the Predators took the ice as usual Sunday. They laughed and had fun before facing the Montgomery Blue Devils in the Girls’ Tier II 19U championship game.
The Predators overcame a sluggish start and several missed shots to pull away down the stretch for a 4-2 win over the Blue Devils, advancing to the 2020 Chipotle-USA Hockey Girls Tier II 19U National Championships April 2-6 in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The Predators didn’t appear as sharp as they did Saturday night when they cruised to a 6-0 victory over the Blue Devils. They still won, though, and Sunday’s celebration helped the team from Nashville cap what had unexpectedly become a stressful week.
“One of our teammates, her entire elementary school that’s attached to her high school was demolished,” said Grace Mayer. “They were kind of stressed out, but when they got here, it was, ‘OK, it’s hockey time. What’s at home will get fixed.’”
That was evident Friday when the Predators opened the Southeastern District Tournament with an 11-0 win over Florida Alliance. They followed it up Saturday by outscoring their opponents 9-1 to earn a pair of wins and advance to the district championship game.
The Predators entered the year with expectations of reaching Nationals. Unlike in past years, they boast an experienced lineup that includes eight high school seniors.
However, with eight minutes remaining in the district championship game, Singletary said she wasn’t sure about the Predators’ chances. They missed a lot of open nets and scoring opportunities, but they regrouped in time to rally past the Blue Devils.
“Honestly, it was probably our worst game of the weekend, I’m not going to lie as bad as that sounds,” Mayer said. “We came out, and we were very flat. I think we were playing more desperate than we were confident.”
Singletary said two of the four players from Nashville had their schools destroyed by the tornado. Singletary, meanwhile, managed to get out of the storm without experiencing any major damage.
“The girls, they communicate over Snapchat and things like that every day. So I know that they’ve all discussed it,” Singletary said. “But as soon as we got down here, we had one focus.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.