Expectations high as Quaker Valley eyes another title
The Quaker Valley Quakers are determined to call themselves Class A state champions for a second consecutive time when this season comes to an end.
“I will stop at nothing to have that feeling again,” senior forward Clayton Bouchard said.
Expectations are understandably high this season, and losing games or not playing to their potential would be counterproductive to achieving their goals.
“If we don't play the hockey that we're expected to play, that's going to be a setback for us, especially because we have high expectations for the season,” Bouchard said.
The players will have to put last year behind them but also build on the success they had.
“Last year was last year. The sooner the kids get their eyes focused on this year, the better,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said.
Quinn said Quaker Valley was an underdog last season. Now, it will be the most hunted team in Class A.
“It's like a different year, a different battle,” he said.
Quinn does not want his players to be arrogant or overconfident, but as reigning state champions, that might be harder do accomplish than he would like.
“We're not going out acting like the best, but inside, we really do (feel that way),” Bouchard said.
“We just expect to go out there and win every game.”
Four skaters and a goaltender have left, but with the majority of last year's team returning, including a substantial junior class, depth is the team's greatest strength.
“Add it all up and we have a lot of experience coming back and you can overcome the loss of a few kids,” Quinn said.
Stepping into bigger leadership roles will be Bouchard, senior Ryan Dickson and junior Ryan Lottes.
“I know that I will have to be a little more vocal, and I'm going to be comfortable fitting into that role,” Bouchard said. “I know that I respect (my teammates) and they respect me, so it works mutually.”
Some players have stepped into new roles on the ice in the offseason, bringing flexibility to the team.
“Anybody can work with anybody. I think that's going to help us,” Bouchard said.
One thing that won't change this season is the team's commitment to defensive play on both sides of the ice.
“That's something that we prided ourselves on last year,” Bouchard said.
That means keeping shots-against low and capitalizing on opponents' mistakes.
“We always want to be difficult to play against,” Quinn said.
Quaker Valley also has been effective on special teams, capitalizing on power-play opportunities.
“When teams are undisciplined, we make them pay,” Quinn said.
Last season, the Quakers had an impressive power play, with a success rate over 40 percent.
“We're working on all those things right now because people stepped up into those roles,” Quinn said.
“If you want to win again, everyone has to step up and do more.”
Amanda Iannuzzi is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.