Despite roster changes, Quaker Valley hockey's goals remain the same
The memories persist, and the majority of the players remain. The head coach didn't change, and neither did the general system or philosophy.
But this edition of the Quaker Valley hockey team is not the same one that won the Class A PIHL Penguins Cup and state titles last season.
Quaker Valley is off to its usual strong start at 3-0 heading into a game against Deer Lakes on Monday. But the Quakers are wise enough to recognize that the successes of the previous winter and spring mean nothing when they take the ice this fall.
“We are off to a good start, which is great, but we have a long way to go to be where we were last year in terms of a cohesive unit,” coach Kevin Quinn said. “In a lot of areas, we're trying to separate last year's team from this year's so that the kids who are stepping up into different roles can take advantage of their opportunities.”
The most recent of the Quakers' wins was 5-2 against Mars on Thursday. Games against the Planets always carry extra meaning — the teams have won six of the past seven Penguins Cup titles.
Quaker Valley also defeated Westmont Hilltop, which was one of the classification's better teams last season. The Quakers defeated both a Class AA power in Bishop Canevin and a Class AAA power in Canon-McMillan at the St. Margaret tournament.
In short, the Quakers have given reason to believe they again will be the team to beat in Class A.
“We're looking to do the same thing we did last year,” senior forward Clayton Bouchard said. “First the Penguins Cup and then the state championship. That's really the same goal we've had every year ever since I was a freshman, to be honest. We never change that mindset.
“We want to set ourselves apart from the rest of the field every year by winning the state championship and proving how good we are in not just Single A but by being the best team in the (PIHL). That might seem like a lofty goal, but that's just how our mindset is.”
Quaker Valley lost four players to graduation and is without Jake Pilewicz, who is playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite team.
That left seniors Bouchard, linemate Ryan Dickson and defenseman Steven Wei and junior defenseman Ryan Lottes as captains.
“We're really comfortable with all the kids on the team,” Bouchard said. “They respect us, and we respect them. So it's really easy for us to talk to them and be a vocal leader.”
Scott Weston began on the top line with Bouchard and Dickson. Jimmy Perkins has been centering the second line with Connor Quinn and Adam Pilewicz. Cameron Peterkin, Otto Schaefer, Kurt Mohr and Avery Montague are also skilled forwards.
“There's offense on all three lines,” Kevin Quinn said.
Still, Bouchard said, “Defense is always going to come first here.”
And with a blue line that includes Lottes, Wei and Alex Quinn, Quaker Valley is strong again in that area.
Senior Jonathan Pijar and sophomore Parker Sherry are sharing the goaltending duties.
Chris Adamski is a freelance writer.