Quaker Valley hockey looking to rebound

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Friday, October 4, 2019 | 6:53 PM


Quaker Valley’s hockey team hopes to rebound from a near postseason miss.

The Quakers, who own five PIHL Penguins Cup Class A titles (2006, ’08, ’12, ’13, ’14), reached the Class AA championship game two years ago. Last season, though, playing in a bigger classification and against bigger schools caught up to the team as it finished 5-14.

With another young roster this season, the Quakers have no choice but to mature quickly if they want to a playoff-free season. Quaker Valley has six games — all against formidable foes — in October. It plays just twice in November.

“It’s a young group that is eager to learn. We have a lot of games early, so it will be a learning trial by fire,” Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. “Hopefully, we get off to a good start. If you don’t, you put yourself in a pretty bad hole.”

The PIHL alignment calls for two teams from each of the four Class AA divisions to earn playoff spots. With traditional powers Mars, Moon and Meadville lumped in with the Quakers, they know the path to securing one of those postseason spots is difficult. Quaker Valley got off to a good start with a 4-1 win over Meadville, though.

“It’s huge to go out and get a jump on these teams,” Quaker Valley senior co-captain Josh Bemis said. “Once you start losing and get in that hole, it’s hard to dig yourself out. In Double-A, there are a lot of bigger schools with more depth. It’s definitely important to start the year in a positive way and jump ahead of these teams.”

Bemis is a key figure for Quaker Valley, along with classmates Chris Barefoot, Colin Rice and Ethan Cadwell. Bemis led the team in scoring (16 goals, 24 points) last year.

“Josh Bemis is a top-line player for us this year. He will be asked to put a lot of pucks in the net for us. He finds a way to score a lot. He will have a lot of pressure on him,” Quinn said. “Noah Mattie and Chris Barefoot have been playing on a line with him. Kyle Rice and Luke Melisko are both juniors, and I expect them to contribute.”

Offense is not the Quakers’ concern. They want to solidify their young defense with Bodhi Wilson, Hayden Earlewine, Andy Bablak, Max Quinn and Cadwell on the blue line.

“We’re young in the back end,” Kevin Quinn said. “We’ll see what we have here over the next few weeks because they will get thrown right into the fire.”

Quaker Valley can lean on Rice in goal to bail out the defense.

“Colin Rice played really well against Meadville and helped us get a win,” Kevin Quinn said. “The name of the game is goaltending and he played pretty well.

“We just have to do a better job defensively. When we’re good defensively, we’ll find ways to put pucks in the net,” he continued. “We have to be a much better team defensively this year if we plan on winning more games.”

The Quakers hope their strong start continues.

“Last year, we didn’t have exactly the best year and we did lose a couple seniors up front. We have a lot of kids coming up this year, some freshmen who are very skilled players,” Bemis said. “I think our team is going to do a lot better than we showed last year.

“I think our team, in general, has really good chemistry. It’s great having a team of kids that cares so much about the game and each other. We’re going out and having fun but working out butts off, too.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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