Quaker Valley bounces back from skid in time for Penguins Cup playoffs

Sunday, February 19, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Quaker Valley’s youthful hockey team snapped out of its funk Feb. 9 with an impressive 8-4 win against North Catholic.

The victory temporarily propelled the Quakers past North Catholic in the PIHL Class A Gold Division standings.

“Given the youth of our team, including the seven freshmen, I am very pleased with our season and hopeful we can pull it all together come playoff time to make a run,” QV coach Kevin Quinn said. “Adversity has hit us hard, but this young team is prepped and ready to overcome it.”

A midseason surge when QV won nine of 10 games between Oct. 31 and Jan. 19 carried the Quakers to an 11-3 record at that time.

But a three-game tailspin followed as Quaker Valley lost to West Allegheny twice and McDowell once. The Quakers then rebounded with the eight-goal explosion versus NC.

As the regular season came to a close, North Hills held a comfortable lead atop the division standings. Montour and McDowell stood in second and third place, followed by North Catholic and Quaker Valley in a tie for fourth.

QV senior forward Ben Carlson was ranked in the top five in scoring in the division with 18 goals and 12 assists (30 points). Carlson is team captain as well as a two-time league all-star.

“The team has not been playing up to its potential lately,” Carlson said, “which is something I take responsibility for as a leader on the team, and which we’re working to change.

“We’re looking to bounce back in our last game and get some momentum going heading into the playoffs.”

Carlson was complemented in the QV scoring column by senior forward Braedan Steffey (7 goals, 16 assists, 23 points), junior defenseman Will Watson (7-15-22), senior forward Riley Moore (13-6-19), freshman defenseman Jacob Keisel (3-15-18) and freshman forwards Jace Vasbinder (10-4-14) and Ben McHenry (6-8-14). Carlson, Watson and Vasbinder led the squad in power-play goals with three apiece.

Steffey, Watson and Keisel were Class A all-star selections this season.

“The team is in a bit of a dry spell,” Steffey said, “but we are ready to bounce back and play hard playoff hockey the rest of the way.”

Sophomore Landon Buterbaugh, another PIHL all-star, also ranked in the top five in the division in goaltending with 781:32 minutes played. Buterbaugh was 9-7 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .885 save percentage. He allowed 40 goals on 349 shots while making 309 saves.

“Landon has been great even in the recent defeats,” Quinn said. “If he plays like he has, we will be a tough out in playoffs. The play of (defensemen) Will Watson and Jacob Keisel has been exceptional. They play a lot and are consistent providers of passion and will to win.”

Freshman goalie Ian Lorang was 3-0 with a 1.36 GAA and .925 save percentage for the Quakers. Lorang surrendered just five goals on 67 shots while stopping 62.

As of Feb. 15, North Hills, Montour, McDowell, North Catholic, Quaker Valley, along with West Allegheny and Avonworth, were the top squads in the Gold Division.

Fox Chapel, Greensburg Salem, Norwin, Kiski and Indiana were the leading Blue Division teams.

QV lost a tough 2-1 decision to Montour on Feb. 12 to fall to 12-6-1 overall. Moore netted the Quakers’ lone goal at the 4:43 mark of the third period; Buterbaugh stopped 22 of 24 shots.

Liam Dallas (first period) and Thomas Barefoot (third period) accounted for the two Montour goals, while goalie Tyler Haley stopped 23 of 24 shots for the Spartans.

“Our offense went cold in recent games, including that loss to Montour,” Quinn said. “We need our seniors and leaders to pick up the slack. Braeden Steffey, Ben Carlson and Riley Moore have put a lot of pucks in the net for us this year, and when they do we win. They’ve gotten us this far, and I am confident they will rise to the occasion.”

QV was scheduled to end the regular season Feb. 20 against Chartiers Valley.

“The team is locked in for the playoffs,” Steffey said, “but a win would mean better seeding.”

Quinn was anticipating that the Quakers would be able to shake off their late-season doldrums in time for the postseason.

“We do need to win (against Chartiers Valley) and get some help to secure a four seed and first-round home game,” said the QV coach. “Otherwise, it will be a road contest in the first round.

“Either way, we will be ready.”


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