Quaker Valley hockey players to play in national championships

Sunday, March 26, 2023 | 11:01 AM

Many of the skaters in the PIHL maintain their time on the ice as members of local club teams.

Five Quaker Valley hockey players — four freshmen and one middle schooler — are on club squads that have advanced to the USA Hockey national championships to be held March 30 to April 3.

Defenseman Jacob Keisel and forward Max Modrovich, both freshman members of the Pittsburgh Vengeance AAA 2008 team, are looking forward to participating the Tier 1 Nationals in Plymouth, Mich.

“I am really proud of my team for accomplishing this great feat,” Keisel said. “After winning the district championship, it was really surreal. I know it was a dream for myself along with my teammates and coaches. We flipped the switch on during crunch time and beat some very good Top 10 and even Top 5 teams in the nation, moving us up a few spots in the rankings.

“I feel this has been a great stepping stone for future teams, as this is the first Vengeance team to make nationals. I think we will make some noise in Michigan. All the teams there are teams we have beaten.”

The Vengeance has been coached by Dave Dorsey and assistant Gene Spadaro the past two seasons.

“I am very fortunate,” Keisel said. “They have developed me as a player and a person in a positive way. I feel I’ve developed more in these areas than ever before, plus they just make practice fun while preparing us for games at the same time.”

Keisel, 14, has been playing for the North Pittsburgh Wildcats since he was a youngster but started skating at RMU even before that.

Modrovich is looking forward to competing against some of the country’s elite teams at the national tournament.

“I’m excited for the opportunity,” Modrovich said. “We finished 12-1 down the stretch and were 5-2 against the teams in our bracket, so I feel if we play hard on the forecheck, we give teams a lot of problems, and we should get to the quarterfinals. We played the second-hardest schedule this year, so I think if we get into the final eight anything can happen.”

Modrovich, 14, began playing hockey age 4 in the RMU program. He has competed in football, soccer and basketball as well, but stopped participating in those sports because of conflicts with scheduling.

“I moved to Quaker Valley in seventh grade and have been playing hockey for coach (Kevin) Quinn for the last three years,” Modrovich said. “He has helped in my development.”

Colin York and Jace Vasbinder, both forwards, and eighth-grade defenseman Sawyer Krotine play for North Pittsburgh AA and are going to the Tier II Nationals in Denver, Colo. The team is coached by Cliff Loya.

“I am so excited that our team won the MidAm district championship,” York said. “Our entire team stepped up in ‘trophy hunting season,’ as we also won two league banners. It was great to share these on-ice victories with two of my best friends at Quaker Valley.

“Our team is looking forward to playing some of the best teams from around the country. We know the competition will be tough, but we also expect to step up to the challenge, stick together and support each other.”

The 15-year-old York started playing hockey at age 6.

“I am so proud of my four teammates for making it to national tournaments,” York said. “We’ve all worked so hard. These are some of my very best friends, so to celebrate our success together is special.

“I know one of the contributing factors for so many of us is that we have all played for coach Quinn for years. He’s taught us to push and support each other both on and off the ice, and to keep a positive attitude no matter the challenge. Playing for coach Quinn this year will most definitely help all of us compete at nationals.”

Vasbinder, who is 15, believes his team will have a strong showing at the national event.

“It was a lot of hard work to get to nationals,” Vasbinder said, “and we need to make the most of this amazing opportunity. I expect us to give it our all like we have all season and hopefully we can make it pretty far at nationals.”

Vasbinder began playing hockey when he was only 3 or 4.

York, Vasbinder, Keisel and Modrovich were freshman members of the Quaker Valley playoff hockey team in 2022-23. All four are participating in the QV boys lacrosse program this spring.

“All four played a lot of varsity hockey for us this year,” Quinn said. “It is a great sign if your players are playing at a high level of amateur and competing for national championships. I’m proud of Sawyer, Colin, Jace, Max and Jacob for the accomplishment. Along with so many of our Quaker Valley players, they play at a high level of amateur hockey. It takes a lot of commitment to do both amateurs and high school at the same time. I am excited about their future.

“The middle school team went undefeated in the regular season led by goaltender Ian Lorang, along with captains Charlie Pyle, Jack Watson and Sawyer Krotine. The future is bright for QV hockey.”

The Vengeance ‘08 AAA squad traveled to Columbus to compete in the Mid-American district playoffs looking to earn a berth in the USA Hockey nationals.

The Vengeance defeated the Cleveland Barons (7-0), South Hills Panthers (6-0), Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0) and cross-town rival Pittsburgh Penguins Elite (4-2) by a collective score of 21-2.

The Vengeance will take a 33-19-4 record into the national limelight.

“Beating our No. 1 rival (Penguins Elite) twice in two weeks felt amazing,” Keisel said. “I am very honored to have made it to nationals, and Max has been a great kid to hang with.

“My other three friends, Jace, Colin and Sawyer, have also made it to nationals for the 14U AA Wildcats. I know the Quaker Valley hockey community is proud.”

The North Pittsburgh Wildcats of the North Pittsburgh Youth Hockey Association edged the Steel City Ice Renegades, 2-1, thanks to a goal by forward Brody Yurkovac with less than a minute to go. York assisted on the game-winning play.

The Wildcats will represent the Mid-Am district at the USA Hockey Tier II Nationals.


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