Furman South honored to be 1st Quaker Valley hockey player inducted into school’s hall of fame

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Sunday, September 24, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Furman South’s brilliant hockey career has been filled with a series of firsts.

• The 2006 Quaker Valley graduate skated on the first state championship hockey team in program history.

• South ranks first in numerous statistical season- and career-long categories, including most goals in a season, career goals, most hat tricks in a season and most hat tricks in a career.

• He was the first QV player to attain 100 points in a season when he finished with 59 goals and 41 assists in 2003-04.

• South is the first — and only — former QV hockey player hired to work as a fulltime referee in the NHL

• And the latest, he is the first hockey player in school history to be voted into the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame.

“I am beyond honored to be selected,” said South, 35. “I think my first reaction was a combination of surprise and pride.

“Pride in that I was the first individual (hockey) player to be selected to the Hall of Fame, but also surprised because there were a lot of very good players and very good friends that came before me who were top-end high school hockey players, or went on to play college hockey, who were just as deserving of this honor as I am.”

South will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on the weekend of Oct. 13-14; the 2023 class will be recognized Oct. 13 at the Quakers’ home football game against West Mifflin.

A banquet will be held in honor of the inductees Oct. 14 at 11 a.m. at Edgeworth Club. For ticket information, email Christina Johns at johnsc@qvsd.org.

South has been on the ice almost his entire life. He started skating at age 3 and began playing hockey a year or two later.

“I think I was drawn to the game through my dad’s interest in the game,” South said, “and by watching the great Penguins teams of the ’90s with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and my favorite player growing up, Kevin Stevens.”

It’s not an understatement to say South set a standard for Quaker Valley hockey during his playing days as four-year letterman.

South was relentless, and near-unstoppable.

He was recognized as one of the top hockey players in the state during his time with the Quakers, receiving an assortment of awards and recognition during his career.

South was selected to numerous all-star teams, named PIHL Player of the Month multiple times, and voted onto the PAHL Stellar 6 Team.

He was QV’s leading scorer for three consecutive seasons and finished his high school career with 250 points, including 149 goals and 101 assists.

South was named QV’s rookie of the year in 2002-03 and team MVP in 2003-04.

He scored four goals in the 2006 state championship game and racked up 26 career hat tricks.

Kevin Quinn has been with Quaker Valley hockey since its inception. He started the program in 1997 and has been QV’s varsity coach ever since, a period covering 27 years.

“Furman had an outstanding career at QV and beyond,” Quinn said. “He was an outstanding scorer with a great shot and great hands. He simply overwhelmed goalies at the high school level. He was coachable and worked very hard on his skills.

“Yes, he is an outstanding former player, but I also know him to be a fine young man, a great husband and father to two young boys. I am very happy he is the first player to go in the Hall of Fame for QV hockey. He is one of the all-time greats not only at Quaker Valley but in the PIHL. We were lucky to have him and his brother Colin at QV.”

Playing hockey for Quinn and topping his career with a state championship are two of South’s fondest hockey remembrances.

“Being a part of the first Quaker Valley hockey state championship team is a memory I will always cherish,” South said. “I am so grateful and owe so much to coach Quinn for everything he has done and continues to do for me both on and off the ice. Besides my parents and the unbelievable support they offered me emotionally, financially and timewise, the greatest influence on my hockey career is undoubtedly Kevin Quinn. I can’t express how in debt and grateful I am to him and his family for everything he has done for me throughout the years.

“It was kind of hard to realize at the time with my sights being set on travel hockey and a Division I scholarship, but the memories I have from being a member of the QV hockey team are some of the best I have from that part of my life. Many of the friends that I made are still my closest to this day and I could not be more grateful.”

In high school, South was a 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward.

“And I am actually exactly the same today,” he said, “despite the fact that I got up to 205-210 pounds while playing junior hockey (for the EJHL Bay State Breakers) and college hockey.

“Between high school and travel hockey I didn’t have much time for much else, but I did play on the golf team for three years in high school.”

Quaker Valley rolled past Penncrest, 9-2, in the Pennsylvania Cup Class A title game in 2006.

“We won the state championship my senior year,” South said. “We had very good teams each of my first three years but had very tough defeats each season, so it was a great way to go out.

“It made it even more special having my brother Colin on the team, especially with both of us playing such big parts in the team’s success throughout the playoffs, culminating with both of us having hat tricks in the state championship game.”

South went on to play junior hockey where he had a successful two-year stint that led him to a four-year career at Division I Robert Morris.

He appeared in 135 games for the Colonials and earned the Student-Athlete of the Year award in 2010-11, along with the Atlantic Hockey Individual Sportsmanship Award when he was assessed just one two-minute penalty all season.

His performance in the classroom was just as impressive as he posted the highest cumulative GPA on the team in 2010-11, and received Academic All-Atlantic Hockey honors.

“We completed an improbable two-game sweep of the No. 1 team in the country, Miami of Ohio,” said South, who earned a biology degree at RMU. “My other favorite college memory was being a key member of the No. 1 penalty-killing unit in the country my senior year, being successful at killing over 90% of the power plays we faced.”

As of 2021, South has been a fulltime referee in the NHL where he has worked in more than 200 games (and counting).

He was accepted to medical school but didn’t want to leave his hockey life behind. After trying coaching, he found officiating was something that came natural to him.

South attended the NHL exposure combine then had the opportunity to work within the USA Hockey junior program.

South decided to pursue the officiating option and moved his way up through the NAHL, USHL, AHL, and was offered a minor league contract in the summer of 2016. He worked five seasons under a minor league contract.

“I worked a combination of games in the NHL and the top minor league, the AHL, as well as the AHL playoffs,” South said. “I worked three Calder Cup Finals and the 2020 All-Star Game. I was promoted to fulltime NHL referee in 2021, which meant I no longer had to work minor league games.”

South refereed his first NHL game April 6, 2017. Yes, another first.

“I’d say the things I enjoy most about being an NHL referee are still being able to be on the ice and competing to be my best, serving the game to the best of my ability,” South said. “I love still being part of a team (of officials). Being able to travel and explore all the cities is something I really enjoy, as well.

“That being said, the travel is probably one of the biggest drawbacks. I used to love leaving and going on the road, but since we’ve built a family it has definitely been a little different. There are definitely days on the road that are tougher than they used to be.”

Sewickley is the home base for the South family. The QV hall-of-famer and his wife Whitney are proud parents of two young sons, 2-year-old Owen, and Quinn, who was born Aug. 27.

South’s wife is from Evergreen, Colo., about an hour west of Denver.

“Whitney grew up playing hockey and earned a scholarship at Robert Morris University where we met,” South said.

The talented and tireless South recently attended a week-long training camp conducted by the NHL.

“I am so happy Furman has gone on to become an NHL referee,” Quinn said. “It takes a lot of hard work to become one, and he does it very well.

“We have a large group of outstanding hockey alumni, including Colin, who I expect to join Furman in the QV Hall of Fame soon.”

Along with golfing and walking his golden retriever (named Rory) with his family, South’s other hobby is cooking.

When he has time.

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