Love of prep hockey makes Laynes retirement a short one
By Joe Williams, Sports Editor
Mark Layne loves high school hockey.
After being heavily involved in the Greater Nashville Scholastic Hockey (GNASH) organization for many years, five of them as head coach of the Centennial Cougars, Layne announced he was retiring a day before his last game, a 3-1 loss to Ravenwood, in November.
The retirement lasted less than month.
“I was approached soon after by Brentwood,” said Layne, who won two GNASH Cups and finished runner-up in another, won two Predator’s Cups and finished in the Elite Eight in the national tournament last year. “They were losing their assistant coach at the end of the year. After talking with the head coach about their program and his philosophies, I joined them last week.”
The quick un-retirement is an indication of just how strong of a foot hold hockey has on Williamson County high schoolers. Currently a club sport, meaning it does not fall under the umbrella of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association or the schools themselves, athletes and their parents carry the full cost of equipment and ice time and coaches are all volunteers. The group plays under the guidance of USA Hockey, the national governing body for hockey in the United States.
The 18 teams in the league are separated in three tier based on last year’s finish, similar to classicization in other sports that are based on enrollment. After a 15-game regular season the teams are seeded for a four game play off to set the final standings after which teams compete for the Predator’s Cup, the state championship, and the Hines Cup, the league title tournament.
Seven of Williamson County Schools’ eight high schools play in the league, some with full teams and others in a co-op situation with other schools. Brentwood, Ravenwood and Centennial all have teams in Tier 1, where the Bruins are tied with Hendersonville for the tier lead. Independence-Summit and Franklin-Oakland stand 1-2 in Tier 2, while Hume Fogg-Page and Centennial B compete in Tier 3.
Just past the half-way point of the season, Brentwood has taken sole possession at the top of Tier 1 with 17 points, with Father Ryan (15) and Hendersonville (14) close behind. Ravenwood, playing four less games than the leaders, sits at 10 points and well within striking distance, just behind Centennial with 12.
Williamson County owns the top two spots in Tier 2, with Independence-Summit holding a 16-12 lead over Franklin-Oakland. In Tier 3, Hume Fogg-Page is just five points behind leader Blackman-Stewarts Creek, with Centennial B still looking for its second win of the year.
Most games are played at Franklin’s A-Game Sportsplex, with others at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville. Games are scheduled for Wednesday and Friday nights.
One of the more unique aspects of the league is the practice of posting suspensions on their website (www.gnashockey.com), with the penalty imposed and when the suspensions are met.
Posted on: 12/19/2013