Optimism abounds for Quaker Valley hockey after playoff season

Sunday, March 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM

The PIHL regular season is a long grind, beginning in October and running into February.

Quaker Valley, competing in the Varsity A Gold division, finished fourth behind North Hills, McDowell and North Catholic with a 14-5-0-1 record.

The Quakers started out 2-2 then skated to wins in nine of their next 10 games and wrapped up their regular-season schedule with three consecutive victories.

“Overall, I was pleased given how young we were and the competition we face in Single-A,” QV coach Kevin Quinn said. “So many senior-laden large schools play down multiple levels. We know we learned a lot about compete, consistency and courage. We will be young next year, too. We have a lot of work to do this offseason if we want to not only compete but compete for titles again.

“I expect us to be very good. We had a lot of freshmen get a lot of experience this year. And there is another good freshman group coming up that we are excited to add to the varsity mix. We return our goaltending as well as the majority of our defensive corps. I believe we will have strong senior leaders, and I am definitely excited about the future.”

Five QV players — senior forwards Ben Carlson and Braeden Steffey, junior defenseman Will Watson, freshman defenseman Jacob Keisel and sophomore goaltender Landon Buterbaugh — were named as PIHL all-stars this season.

Carlson, 18, was the Quakers’ team captain in 2022-23.

“Ben really rose up for us this year,” Quinn said, “especially late when we needed his scoring. We almost pulled off an upset in the (PIHL) quarters thanks to his and Landon Buterbaugh’s efforts. He had a great career at Quaker Valley and will be sorely missed on and off the ice next year.”

The Quakers competed in two playoff games, blanking Indiana, 3-0, before losing a 6-3 decision to Fox Chapel. Overall, QV outscored the opposition by a 90-48 margin in 2022-23.

Carlson, a four-year varsity player, led QV in scoring this year with 35 points on 23 goals and 12 assists.

“I’m very proud of the team’s performance this season,” he said. “We faced a lot of adversity, losing players, having a very young team, and all the other struggles that come with a long season. Through it all, the team battled hard and really came together as a group.

“We had a rough second half of the season, but I couldn’t be happier with how we responded in our last three games. Even though we lost to Fox Chapel (in the playoffs), I’m still immensely proud of all the hard work we put in and I couldn’t have asked for a better group my senior year.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Carlson said he is thankful to be able to play hockey for Quaker Valley.

“I’ve been blessed to have incredible coaches and people I can really look up to as mentors every step of the way,” Carlson said. “Coach Quinn, coach Aaron (Siegel), coach Blaine (Buterbaugh), (Rich Guerrieri) and many others have been there every step of the way for me and have really helped me to grow as a player and person over the years.

“Every year, graduated players come back to help out in practices or watch games, which is something I think speaks to the culture coach Quinn has created for QV hockey and is something I look forward to doing after this year. I really couldn’t say better things about my time playing for QV, and I’m thankful for all that hockey’s given me.”

Carlson also competed for the QV wrestling team for the first time this winter. He won his first varsity match Dec. 8 via a pin in 1:15 at 189 pounds against an Avonworth opponent.

He had a 3.87 GPA at the end of his junior year and plans to attend either Wisconsin-Madison or Miami of Ohio to study biochemistry.

Carlson started playing hockey at around the age of 5 and is participating in lacrosse for the Quakers this spring.

He was complemented offensively on the ice in 2022-23 by Steffey (7 goals-18-25 points), Watson (7-17-24), senior forward Riley Moore (14-6-22), Keisel (3-18-21) and freshman forward Jace Vasbinder (11-5-16).

Buterbaugh finished with an 11-6 regular-season record and 2.39 goals-against average. He compiled an .892 save percentage and posted two shutouts.

Ian Lorang, a freshman goaltender, was 3-0 with a 1.36 GAA and one shutout. Lorang logged a .925 save percentage.


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