Quaker Valley hockey set to begin quest for 3rd straight Penguins Cup title
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The St. Margaret Fall Face-Off has been the starting point for some big seasons for the Quaker Valley hockey team. The preseason tournament takes teams from Class AAA, AA and A of the PIHL and places them in pool play followed by a playoff tournament.
The Quakers have participated in the event the past two seasons and have finished the campaigns with a pair of Penguins Cups and a state title in 2012.
And while the 2013-14 squad went 1-2 in pool play — with a 7-5 win over Class AA's Armstrong and losses to Class AAA's Bethel Park and North Allegheny — the experience the Quakers gained should provide them momentum heading into the regular season.
“I think it really shows where our weaknesses are,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “We want to come in and win it, obviously, but it really shows where we need to improve. That is important for the kids to see. If they go into the season thinking they can beat anyone, it may lead to some overconfidence.”
To defend its Penguins Cup, the team returns plenty of experienced players. Three of the team's top four point producers return — senior Jimmy Perkins (69 points), sophomore Connor Quinn (68) and junior Adam Pilewicz (66).
The Quakers will lean on seniors Adam Stanley, Cameron Peterkin, Kurt Mohr and Otto Schaefer for production.
Even with the talent on offense, the team will look a bit different from seasons past and will rely on a strong defense for wins.
“We won't be the same exact team as last season,” Perkins said. “We aren't as deep up front, but we do have two solid lines that can put the puck in the net. But we expect our defense to be our strong point.”
The defense will be led by the talented senior duo of Ryan Lottes and Alex Quinn. The pair was used to help control the opponent's top line last season.
“Our best player is Lottes,” Quinn said. “He is a defenseman that can shut down the other team's top scorers. He is an all-around tremendous hockey player.”
Other defensemen expected to contribute are juniors Hunter Wolz and Trenton Ruprecht and sophomore Jacob Kuzma.
“We have some really good young defensemen coming up with size and strength,” Quinn said. “We have built our team from the back end up. Some of our best teams have had strong solid defenses. We don't expect anything different this year.”
Junior Parker Sherry returns to protect the net after a season that saw him lead the team to 11 wins and 216 saves.
“He is a Penguins Cup goalie and has played a lot of hockey,” Quinn said. “We are excited for his return. Tice Perkins is also a junior and will have an opportunity to play. And we have some up-and-coming goalies in ninth grade. We are deeper than we have been in goal before. A few years ago we didn't have a goalie for a playoff game so we had to dress a player who hadn't played the position all season.”
The amount of returning experience has led to the creation of a junior varsity team for Quaker Valley. The team has Quinn excited for the future as younger players are able to hone their skills to fill voids in future seasons.
“We are one of the smaller schools in our classification,” Quinn said. “A key thing for us has always been building experience for the following year. We always want to be competitive. We don't want to be good one year and bad the next. A junior varsity team will help us do that.”
But before the Quakers look too far into the future, they still have the 2013-14 season at hand, and they know they will have a target on their backs in Class A this season.
“The standard has been set the last two years with the Penguins Cups and making it to states,” Perkins said. “Last year, (losing) at states left a bad taste in our mouth and that really drove us this offseason. We understand the wins just don't come. We have to work for them.”
The Quakers get their season under way Oct. 28 at Deer Lakes with a 9:10 p.m. start.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.
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