Quaker Valley, Sewickley Academy teams well-represented at PIHL all-star games

Saturday, January 27, 2024 | 11:01 AM

Although in different PIHL divisions, they would jointly make up a formidable starting lineup.

Quaker Valley landed five players on the Varsity A Gold all-star team while Sewickley Academy had two selected for the D-2 game.

As a group, there are three forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender.

The PIHL all-star showcase took place Jan. 28 with five games at the RMU Neville Island ice arena.

From Quaker Valley, sophomore forwards Jace Vasbinder and Max Modrovich, senior defenseman Will Watson, sophomore defenseman Jacob Keisel and junior goaltender Landon Buterbaugh were voted to compete in the Varsity A Gold game.

In the D-2 game, Sewickley Academy junior C.J. Wright was chosen at the forward position; Jayden Garcha, a senior, was named as a defenseman.

And QV’s Kevin Quinn was tabbed as a Varsity A Gold assistant coach to Indiana’s Steve Rebovich.

Buterbaugh also recently was selected as a goaltender on the 18U Blue team for the NAPHL T1ER Top Prospects tournament to be held Feb. 5-6 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry. He will represent the Esmark Stars 18U AAA club team.

As of Jan. 22, Vasbinder and Modrovich were QV’s leading scorers with 30 points apiece. Vasbinder was No. 1 in goals scored with 20, including four power-play goals, to go along with his 10 assists.

Vasbinder was thrilled to land all-star status.

“I think it is a really great honor and I’m very thankful to have received it along with my teammates,” Vasbinder said. “It’s a great reminder that hard work doesn’t go unappreciated. I think we all know we have to work even harder every day just to get that much better and be prepared for any team. I was happy for all of us that were chosen, and I know we are going to keep up the work.”

Vasbinder netted two goals in the Quakers’ 7-0 win Jan. 22 against Montour while Modrovich racked up two goals and three assists to boost his season totals to 14 goals and 16 assists. He also had four power play goals.

“I’m very happy to be selected for all-star game. I found out the news when I was coming back home from practice,” Modrovich said. “I’m proud of Jacob Keisel and Jace Vasbinder for also being selected. They’re not only my high school teammates, but they’re on my travel team, as well.

“I’m also glad Landon Buterbaugh and Will Watson were selected. We’ve all worked hard to get to this point. This wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my coaches and teammates along the way.”

The offensive-minded Watson led the team in assists with 20 and also tacked on one goal. Keisel had accounted for five goals and seven assists.

“I’m grateful to be selected for the all-star game.” Watson said. “I was, of course, excited but also excited for my four teammates who were also selected.”

Statistically, QV had the No. 1 defense in the Varsity A Gold division by allowing just 19 goals in 14 games. Watson and Keisel lead the defensive charge for the Quakers while Buterbaugh’s and sophomore GK Ian Lorang’s sparkling stats speak for themselves.

Keisel said it was a great honor to be named an all-star.

“My initial reaction was special in a way,” he said, “as I received the news just minutes after we came off one of our biggest wins of the year, rallying back to beat Shaler, 3-2.

“I’m very proud of how our defense has responded and stepped up this year after losing a lot of great players last year. To be a part of the No. 1 defense in the division is awesome.”

Keisel was genuinely thankful to be chosen for the showcase event.

“Receiving this honor would not be possible without my teammates and coaches,” he said. “Coach Quinn has been one of my biggest mentors ever since elementary school, and he always pushes me to be the best player and person I can be. Coach (Blaine) Buterbaugh has also helped me improve my hockey IQ and my offensive skills along the blue line.

“And I have also been incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such great teammates. These guys always push me to be a better player. It truly is special to play the game you love with guys that you know will always have your back and never fail to make you laugh. I’ve had the privilege to play hockey with these guys for a long time.”

Buterbaugh was chosen as an all-star for the third time in his career, meaning he’s 3 for 3 in all-star selections.

This season, Buterbaugh was 9-1 through 10 decisions with a 1.39 goals-against average and 9.49 save percentage. He allowed just 14 goals while making 261 saves on 275 shots on goal.

The QV netminder stopped 24 shots against Montour to pick up his third shutout of the season.

“It’s really exciting to be selected for the (all-star) game,” Buterbaugh said. “It feels really good to be recognized as one of the top players from the league.”

Lorang has complemented Buterbaugh’s efforts this year thanks to his 4-0 record, 55 saves on 60 shots, 1.25 GAA, .917 save percentage and one shutout.

At Sewickley Academy, Wright’s and Garcha’s stats aren’t nearly as gaudy as the QV players. As of Jan. 22, Wright had one goal and Garcha was credited with one assist.

Sewickley has a young team with five freshmen and three sophomores on the varsity roster, and the Panthers are experiencing a hard-luck season. Sewickley was winless with one tie through 14 games.

Three of the team’s leading scorers — forwards Jacob Stanislaw and Max Kopf and defenseman Arjon Kathju — are freshmen. Other players in the Panthers’ lineup hoping to make more of an impact down the season’s home stretch include junior forwards Mitchell Braeden, Ethan Buranovsky and Wright, sophomore defenseman Luca Peluso, Wright and Garcha.

Quaker Valley held a one-point lead over Indiana atop Varsity A Gold Division thanks to a 11-1 thrashing of Kiski and the 7-0 win over Montour.

The Quakers were undefeated at 13-0-0-1, good for 27 points, while Indiana stood at 12-1-0-1-1 (26 points).

Vasbinder had a hat trick plus one assist against Kiski. Seven other QV players added one goal apiece — freshman D Jack Watson, Modrovich, sophomore F Charlie D’Antonio, freshman D Sawyer Krotine, sophomore D Aiden Dillaman, senior F Coleman Carey and senior F Noah Kenneweg.

Freshman F Charlie Pyle dished out three assists while Modrovich and D’Antonio each had two assists.

Lorang improved to 4-0, stopping 15 of 16 shots on goal.

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