Quick goals doom Quaker Valley hockey in state championship game
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The Quaker Valley hockey team got a lesson in Murphy's Law in its season finale.
The Quakers fell into an early three-goal deficit to Flyers Cup champion West Chester Bayard Rustin and were unable to claw back in a 5-2 loss in the Class A Pennsylvania Cup final at the Pegula Ice Arena on Saturday.
“Being down 4-1 in the first period changed the whole game,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “Anything that could go wrong at times did. The same as last year. And we have to find a way to overcome those things.”
It didn't take long for the Golden Knights to score as Brett Christie scored off a 2-on-1 with teammate JR Barone 42 seconds in. A minute later, Michael Grande scored one of his own and the Quakers were down 2-0.
“It really makes your stomach settle a little from the butterflies, but Quaker Valley, I knew they're warriors and I knew they'd keep coming,” Rustin coach Nick Russo said.
Jimmy Perkins scored 3:44 into the first period to cut the Golden Knights lead in half but Barone scored a pair to put his squad up 4-1 at the end of one.
“It was deflating,” Quinn said. “You have to credit them. They worked hard to get their opportunities. On our end, maybe we didn't work hard enough to get our own breaks because we did not get enough traffic and/or second-chance opportunities.”
Cameron Peterkin scored in the second period off a deflected Connor Quinn shot. But any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Shawn Polidore scored with 3:02 left.
“We ran out of gas,” Quinn said. “We had a few bounces in the two games previous to this and we didn't get any (Saturday). We certainly could have used them.”
Perkins, the Quakers' top point producer, missed the final 8:25 of the game after taking a 10-minute game misconduct for head contact. The senior finished the season with 49 goals and 37 assists.
“When you lose (Perkins) for the last eight minutes in a 4-2 game, that hurt,” Quinn said. “The guy that was down on the ice came back and played for the last five minutes of the game. It was very unfortunate.”
It was the second time Quaker Valley and Rustin played for a state title in three years. The Quakers defeated the Golden Knights, 4-2, in 2012.
While it was a deflating loss, it was still a successful campaign for Quaker Valley (24-2).
The season started with drama as six games into the year, the Quakers surrendered their first PIHL loss since 2011 to Mars, 4-3.
After the loss, Quaker Valley dominated in Class A and finished the regular season on a 15-game winning streak. The Quakers defeated South Fayette, 8-1, and Freeport, 4-3, in the Class A Penguins Cup playoffs before defeating Thomas Jefferson, 8-2, for the title.
The team will return several players from this season's squad.
Junior goalie Parker Sherry had a solid campaign, making 408 saves. Defense likely will be a strength in the future as juniors Trenton Ruprecht and Hunter Wolz will return as will sophomores Jacob Kuzma, Jack Woodburn and Owen Harkins.
Connor Quinn finished with 40 goals and 44 assists.
But finding a way to replace the team's 10 graduating seniors won't be easy.
“For me, the most emotional part of the game was saying goodbye to the seniors because they have been such good kids,” Coach Quinn said. “They worked hard. They won a lot of games together. When you win three Penguins Cups, I don't think there should be a shred of disappointment.”
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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