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#USPHLNationals Premier Team Preview: Nashville Spartans

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 

 

The “Class Of 2022” is chock full of amazing achievements. In fact, four of the organizations that joined the USPHL in 2022-23 are making either their debut at, or second trip to, the USPHL Nationals. 

The Nashville Spartans are joining the Minnesota Squatch, Vernal Oilers and the USPHL Elite’s Chicago Crush in that respect. The Spartans are making their debut after finishing second overall in the Great Lakes Division and then defeating a Toledo Cherokee team that had made three straight appearances between 2021 and 2023.

“It feels great! I’m extremely proud of this group of players and what they have accomplished this season,” said Spartans Head Coach Liam Tully. “We understand how hard it is to get to this far, and to be competing for a National Championship in our second year as an organization is exciting!”

The Spartans finished with a record of 36-7-1-0 on the year, and were able to earn the first round bye. The team came away from their first-ever home playoff series with scores of 5-2 and 8-2. 

“We were prepared and executed on exactly what we needed to do to win the series,” said Tully. “Toledo is a good team and they played hard. I thought it was our best team effort all year.”  

During the series, the team’s regular season heroes were yet again the leaders – Brayden Goncalves, who had 34 points in 30 games, put up five points in the two playoff games; regular season leading scorer and six-year USPHL veteran Ronan Keenan posted four points, as did Khyle Flynn. Keenan put up 88 points in the regular season and Flynn was one behind at 87. 

Daniel Duzek stopped 46 of 50 shots during the playoff series with Toledo. So, obviously, what helped the Spartans during the regular season has continued to be their strengths. 

“We focus on the defensive side of the puck a lot during the season, so we will continue to do that in preparation, as well as special teams which will be important at Nationals,” said Tully. “We will carry the team’s momentum from playoffs into Nationals and look forward to the competition we will see in Utica, N.Y.”

Nashville’s first Nationals game will pit them against a first-year team, the Bold City Battalion. On Friday, they encounter the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings in their second Seeding Round game. The Battalion defeated Nashville, 3-1, at the USPHL Tampa Showcase on Jan. 5. At the Southeast Showcase, they fell in overtime to the Charlotte Rush, 3-2. Also from the Southeast Division – where Nashville got their start in 2022-23 – the Potomac Patriots defeated Nashville 5-4 one day after the Spartans’ loss to Charlotte back in October. 

The Spartans’ Great Lakes Division mates, the Metro Jets, went 3-1-0-0 against the Spartans. 

“There are a lot of good teams. Some we have faced, some we have not,” said Tully. “We played Potomac and Charlotte at the beginning of the year and were tough teams to play. I expect all games will be tough, it will be exciting to watch. The Metro Jets, Utica Jr. Comets and Connecticut Jr. Rangers I also expect to be really tough.”

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