Quaker Valley hockey gains early-season momentum with win over Mars
The Quaker Valley hockey team went into last week's game against Mars wanting to prove it was still the top team in Class A.
And in an intense game that saw 18 combined penalties, the Quakers kept their perceived No. 1 status.
Junior Otto Schaefer scored twice, three teammates added one goal apiece and Quaker Valley (3-0) beat Mars, 5-2, Nov. 15 in a rematch of the 2012 Penguins Cup championship game.
“We saw (the game) as ‘Who's going to answer the bell? Who came prepared?' ” Schaefer said.
“All of our lines were flowing, working together, from the first through the third line. We were prepared.”
The Quakers beat Mars, 4-2, in the PIHL Class A Penguins Cup championship in March, then went on to win the state title. The team saw this early-season matchup as a measuring stick for the early portion of the season.
Schaefer scored both his goals in a three-minute span of the opening period, with the first goal coming on the power play just 4:12 into the game. The goals were the only ones scored in the first period. Quaker Valley eventually expanded its lead to 3-0, then 5-1, as sophomore Adam Pilewicz, junior Camerin Peterkin and senior Stephen Wei also scored.
Earlier in the week, the Quakers beat Westmont Hilltop, 7-1, as Schaefer and junior Ryan Lottes scored two goals apiece.
“Any week where you win two games, regardless of who you play, is important,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “But the manner in which we played the games ... they're both good wins for us early in the season.”
Three games into the season, Schaefer said he senses teams have Quaker Valley in their crosshairs — “they want to size up to us, since we're defending our title,” he said — but the Quakers have responded. Quaker Valley outscored its first three opponents by a 22-3 cumulative score.
Quinn said the team's depth stood out to him in those first three games, and his players echoed that thought.
“We're three lines strong this year,” Lottes said. “I wouldn't be worried about putting our third line out against any other line in the league. I think we're going to be a pretty deep team this year, and that'd be a hard team to beat.”
The depth also shows on the defensive end, where Lottes and Alex Quinn form the top pairing and are backed up by several experienced players. The Quakers limited Mars to 14 shots Thursday night, with sophomore goalie Parker Sherry stopping 12 of them. Earlier this season, Quaker Valley limited Bishop McCort to just four shots.
“We have a lot of experience returning on defense, so we're difficult to play against,” Coach Quinn said. “We've got the puck a lot, got one line after another coming after you, we get the puck out quickly, we block shots. It helped us win the state championship last year, being a solid defensive team, and we expect to be no different there.”
The Quakers faced Deer Lakes on Monday at Ice Connection in Valencia, with the hopes of running their record to 4-0. The Lancers (2-1-1) entered the game coming off a 6-3 loss to South Park on Nov. 15.
Monday's game ended past the deadline for this week's edition, but the Quakers will now have another week off before playing at Greensburg Central Catholic on Nov. 29. A game scheduled for the Penguins Pond against Westmont Hilltop was postponed.
Quinn said the team will take a break for Thanksgiving before returning to practice next week.
“A lot of the kids get a little bit away from the game, (and) that's a good thing for them — the season's long enough,” Quinn said. “With the game cancellation against Westmont, it actually works out. We can get back on the ice practicing rather than coming right off Thanksgiving into a game.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.