Quaker Valley skates past Thomas Jefferson, 8-0
Even though Quaker Valley is undefeated and considered to be the best team in PIHL Class A, a scheduling quirk had the Quakers only one point ahead of Mars in Section 2 heading into its game Thursday at Thomas Jefferson.
Quaker Valley has played two fewer games than the Planets and, after Mars got past Freeport earlier in the evening, needed a win over the Jaguars to maintain its slim advantage.
Not only did the Quakers come away with a much-needed win, they dismantled Thomas Jefferson's special teams. Jimmy Perkins had a five-point night with a hat trick and two assists to lead Quaker Valley (14-0-0) to an 8-0 running-clock victory over the Jaguars at BladeRunners in Bethel Park.
“We talked about it going into this game that you can't take penalties against this team because they make you pay for it,” Thomas Jefferson coach Bill Crousey said. “That's what they do. They don't retaliate. They make you pay on the scoreboard.”
Quaker Valley (14-0-0) built up a 6-0 lead at the second period ice cut thanks in large part to an incredibly effective power play that dominated territorially, consistently applied pressure to Thomas Jefferson all-star goaltender Nick Ripepi and eventually chased him after 34 minutes. The Quakers peppered the Jaguars net with 40 shots in the first two periods — part of a 42-shot barrage in the game — including 25 in the second period during which they scored four goals, including three with the man-advantage.
Quaker Valley scored four power-play goals and tallied a fifth on a delayed penalty call in the first two periods. Thomas Jefferson (10-7-0) took nine minor penalties that led to eight 5-on-4 power-play opportunities and a two-minute 5-on-3.
“In our history, our power play has been a strength, and some of the top teams in Class A have taken a lot of penalties and, for us, if they're going to take penalties, we have to capitalize,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “Earlier in the year we didn't have it going yet, but they're starting to get it because we've been spending a lot of time on it the last two weeks.”
Thomas Jefferson tried an active penalty kill and challenged the puck handler whenever it could, but Quaker Valley was able to anticipate extremely well and worked the puck quickly to the open man. Quakers defenseman Ryan Lottes helped as he picked up three assists quarterbacking the power play at the point.
“I think we just had more than one option, and they were playing very aggressively,” Quinn said. “We have more than one option high and low and one of the things about a good power play is that you should know where every one of your options is on the ice at all times.”
Thomas Jefferson will have eight days to think about this one before it plays Feb. 1 at home against a Mars team attempting to supplant Quaker valley as the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs. Even with the loss, the Jaguars remain six points ahead of Serra Catholic for first place in Section 1.
“We just have to refocus on the next one,” Crousey said.
“We're a much better team than we have been in the past and it's not our best effort, but we have to move forward and not get down on ourselves and get ready for the No. 2 team.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KBarnes_Trib.