Young stars shining for Quaker Valley hockey team
Ryan Dickson thought freshman Connor Quinn would make an impact for the Quaker Valley hockey team this season.
He just thought it might take an adjustment period before that happened.
“Coming in, we were like, ‘Yeah, he's pretty good,' but we didn't really expect him to rack up points or anything like that,” said Dickson, a senior and one of the Quakers' captains. “(I) expected him to take half a season and try to get used to the pace … having everything be much faster and the hitting part come back into the game.”
Instead of half a season, the adjustment period took all of 77 seconds.
That's how long it took for Quinn to score his first goal of the season, in the opener against Bishop McCort. He scored another goal in that game, a 10-0 Quaker Valley victory, and the points haven't stopped since. Quinn leads the team in scoring with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) after recording a hat trick in an 8-1 victory Monday over Deer Lakes.
“Obviously, you hope to score as much as you can,” Quinn said, “but with some of the skill on our team, I was not expecting to be one of the top scorers. It's nice to be one of them.”
Quinn isn't the only young player producing at a high level for the Quakers (15-0). Sophomore Adam Pilewicz leads the team with 21 goals and is second with 44 points, while sophomore goalie Parker Sherry leads the team with eight wins and three shutouts.
“There's a number of teams out there (that) when they have the numbers, it's very difficult to crack the lineup until you're almost a junior for the deeper programs,” said coach Kevin Quinn, Connor's father. “But with us, if you're ready, you'll play. We've always had that (philosophy): provide opportunities and make every opportunity earned.”
Youth has worked out well for the Quakers before. Colin South scored about 60 points as a freshman in helping Quaker Valley win the Pennsylvania Cup title in 2006.
Current junior Jimmy Perkins scored more than 20 goals last season as the Quakers won another state title.
But this year, the Quakers' deep roster of young players and seasoned veterans is making life difficult for opponents.
Pilewicz, Perkins and Connor Quinn skate together on the Quakers' second line — if it can truly be called that. The three players have combined for 57 goals and 72 assists on the season.
Seniors Clayton Bouchard and Dickson, who play on the top line, have 40 and 34 points, respectively.
“That's the (nice) thing about having a diverse team — if one line's not scoring, we've always got others that can,” Connor Quinn said. “Some nights, our line will be clicking, or Clayton's line will score all the goals.”
Quaker Valley's depth at forward came about partially because of a move Kevin Quinn made before the season. Believing his team was deeper defensively than it was up front, Quinn moved Pilewicz from defense to forward.
It's worked out well, though Pilewicz said he's still learning the intricacies of the position.
“I play with a couple of great linemates, and they really help me out there,” said Pilewicz, who played forward in amateur hockey when he was younger. “I'm not very good positionally. They just help me (and) tell me where to go (because) they've been playing forward for their whole life.”
Connor Quinn admitted to feeling some nervousness before his first few games of the season because of the age and size difference of the older players. But he credits more experienced players like Perkins, Dickson and Bouchard with helping him make a quick transition to the varsity level.
Coach Quinn said that shows the leadership ability of the senior and junior players, many of whom also gained experience as younger players.
“It's such a great dressing room because of the leadership they've shown,” Quinn said. “It makes young players feel comfortable, and that's a tough thing. That's a big age difference between seniors and freshmen. It's been a nice transition for our young players with the leadership we've had the past couple of years.”
Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.