Quaker Valley hockey expects to get every team's best this season
The Quaker Valley hockey team waited more than seven months to officially begin the defense of its state championship from a season ago.
Then a “superstorm” intervened and tacked on another week.
The Quakers opened their season with a 12-0 win against Bishop McCort on Monday at the Airport Ice Arena in Moon. It came a week after inclement weather from Hurricane Sandy in Western Pennsylvania forced the postponement of the scheduled opener against Freeport.
“That was disappointing, especially considering coming around game time I think the weather was nice enough to play,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “But as a precaution, I understand that (postponement). For me, (it was) just disappointing for the kids because they were champing at the bit to play.”
Quaker Valley will head into this season with a target on its back after capturing both the Penguins Cup and PIHL championships in Class A in 2011-12. A high number of players return from that squad, and players say they're hungry for another title.
“You always want to win the state and Penguin Cup, but it's even more of a challenge when you're trying to repeat,” senior forward Ryan Dickson said. “We're trying to go for that, we're trying to repeat, (and the seniors are) trying to leave on a high note, leave with a win as our last game.”
The Quakers played four games at the St. Margaret's Foundation Fall Faceoff in October, winning two and losing two. The team ultimately fell with a 3-2 loss to Upper St. Clair in the quarterfinals Oct. 15.
“As far as we were concerned, we thought we were as good as anyone in the tournament,” said Quinn, who used the games as a chance to experiment with various line combinations for the season. “We just came out on the short end a couple of games.”
Quinn said he feels comfortable with his combinations heading into the season, and he believes the three-week layoff between the end of the tournament and the first game of the season also helped the team get healthier.
Offensively, the Quakers will rely on Dickson and fellow senior Clayton Bouchard on the top line, with juniors Jimmy Perkins, Cameron Peterkin, Otto Schaefer, Kurt Mohr and Scott Weston, sophomore Adam Pilewicz and freshman Conner Quinn in support. Other forwards expected to contribute include juniors Avery Montague, Hannah Blizzard and Adam Stanley and sophomores Steven Fagan and Aubrie Tarris.
Juniors Ryan Lottes and Alex Quinn will form the top defensive pairing, with seniors Stephen Wei, Nathaniel Weil and Stefan Henschke adding more experience. Sophomores Trenton Ruprecht and Hunter Wolz and freshman Jack Woodburn will also be counted on defensively.
In goal, senior Jonathan Pijar and sophomores Parker Sherry and Tice Harkins will compete for playing time in replacing graduate Doug Revak.
“There's leadership all around,” Bouchard said. “You're not going to find it in one, two, maybe three people — you're going to find it everywhere. Everybody knows what to do, and when playoffs come around, I think most of our team is going to be prepared. We know what to expect.”
The Quakers' leadership should help in a deep Class A division that also includes usual favorite Mars, the three-time Penguins Cup champion that Quaker Valley dethroned last season, as well as other top teams in Kittanning, Westmont and Freeport.
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.