Offensive schemes, depth helping Quaker Valley hockey produce gaudy scoring totals
Nearly a week after watching his team fire close to 70 shots at Thomas Jefferson goalie Nick Repepi, Quaker Valley hockey coach Kevin Quinn labeled it a “frustrating” game.
By his team's usual offensive standards, he may have been right.
The Quakers (8-0) did find the back of the net five times in what became a 5-0 win over the Jaguars Dec. 10, but it took 69 shots to do so. Quinn said the team missed some opportunities, but Repepi also made a lot of saves.
“All three lines had numerous opportunities, and we just could not score early on,” Quinn said. “We finally broke through and obviously scored five, but that one was actually a frustrating night for offense.”
Quaker Valley hasn't had to deal with too many of those this year. Through eight games, the team is averaging nearly eight goals per contest and has crossed the 10-goal threshold three times — including an 11-1 win over Greensburg Central Catholic on Dec. 13.
“We're as confident as we've ever been,” senior forward Clayton Bouchard said. “We know we haven't played our best hockey still, in all honesty — going back to the preseason we had a couple off games. We know that can happen to us. … But confidence-wise, we're pretty high right now.”
The Quakers are generating their gaudy offensive numbers for reasons thanks to both scheme and skill. Schematically, the team puts a lot of pressure on opposing teams by focusing on the forecheck and creating turnovers, which Bouchard said led to the high number of shots against Thomas Jefferson.
The team's defensive scheme plays a role in its offensive success as well.
Quinn said he demands his forwards come back into their own zone to play defense, and the team's defensemen contribute to the offense with breakout passes designed to get the Quakers into offensive mode quickly.
“It starts from there, defensemen who move the puck quickly and give the puck to your forwards,” Quinn said. “If the forwards are having trouble getting the puck, they're not going to score as much. … You need to have defensemen who can move it and skate with it, and we're fortunate enough to have that.”
Offensively, Quaker Valley benefits greatly from its depth. Quinn said while many teams in Class A have just one scoring line they depend on, his team has three — and that can put a lot of pressure on an opponent.
“It forces them to be sound no matter what line goes out there,” he said. “It forces them to play good defensive hockey. We've faced a number of different strategies this year. Some have them have taken penalties against us, so we take advantage of the power play. Other teams have tried to play run and gun with us, which hasn't worked out. It's a nice problem to have, to have depth.”
The team's depth is reflected in its scoring totals. Six different Quaker Valley players have scored more than 10 points this season, with freshman Connor Quinn leading the way with 21. Sophomore Adam Pilewicz, a converted defenseman, leads the team in goals with 11.
“I think that's actually really awesome,” said Bouchard, who has five goals and 11 assists. “You'll see a couple other teams have one or two kids leading the league in points, but they're the only ones providing for their team. Our scoring is so spread out, it's just amazing. It's tough to have a couple guys to rely on … but when the scoring is spread out, it just keeps the momentum going.”
Even with the gaudy offensive stats so far, Bouchard and Quinn said they see room for improvement. Bouchard said the power play is still working to gel, while Quinn is monitoring the team's consistency and hoping it doesn't get overconfident.
“We've got a lot of tough games ahead, some tough road games ahead, some outdoor games,” he said. “We've got a lot to be motivated to play for the rest of the year, and the longer we keep the streak going, the more separation we get from the No. 2 seed. Securing the No. 1 seed is obviously the main goal of the regular season. And in order to do that, you have to be consistent.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.