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Defensemen providing solid foundation for Quaker Valley hockey

| Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Mars forward Paul Maust (right) battles Quaker Valley defenseman Alexander Quinn for the puck during their game Nov. 26, 2013 at Bladerunners in Warrendale.

Some of Kevin Quinn's best Quaker Valley hockey teams have been built from the back with a strong core group of defensemen.

The 2013-14 team is no different.

The Quakers have allowed only 13 goals through last week — an average of just more than 1.6 goals per game — despite having to replace three graduates from last season's team, Stephen Wei, Nathaniel Weil and Stefan Henschke.

“We have won four Penguins Cups and two state titles and all those teams have been defensively sound,” Quinn said. “And it hasn't just been our goaltending but our defensemen and forwards willing to play defense.”

Quaker Valley returned the senior duo of Ryan Lottes and Alex Quinn this season.

And while Lottes has missed half of the Quakers games due to commitments with a travel team, the veteran presence on the ice causes a constant nuisance for opponents' first lines.

“The biggest thing with them is they are just so poised,” Kevin Quinn said. “They all have abilities with their skating, stick handling and communication. And for the most part they don't lose their composure. They relish the opportunities to go out and challenge themselves.”

But after the pair of seniors, it is a group of juniors and underclassmen making a difference this season.

“I knew we lost a few guys which is always tough,” sophomore Jacob Kuzma said. “We knew the defensemen needed to step up to fill those guys' roles.”

Kuzma has been one of the surprises of the season.

The youngster has recorded four goals and four assists and has become one of the Quakers' most consistent players.

Juniors Trenton Ruprecht and Hunter Wolz bring experience from last season, as does sophomore Jack Woodburn.

Owen Harkins is a sophomore providing depth.

“Everyone is doing really well,” Kuzma said. “Everyone is doing the best they can. They are playing their position and playing really solid.”

With the depth at defenseman for Quaker Valley, the position should continue to be a strength for the team. It is just a matter of what the players put into it.

“It is an ongoing competition,” Coach Quinn said. “If you get the opportunity, you need to take advantage of it. When you have competition, it breeds success.”

The Quakers return to the ice Dec. 19 as they host Thomas Jefferson for an 8:30 p.m. start.

Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at nsmith@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NSmith_Trib.

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