Quaker Valley’s 2006 hockey team set program standard

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Friday, August 9, 2019 | 8:54 PM


Quaker Valley’s hockey team has developed into one of the PIHL’s most consistent programs over the past two decades.

The 2005-06 team set the standard, though, when it captured the first Class A Penguins Cup and Pennsylvania Cup championships in program history. That group will be recognized further when it is inducted into the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 29 at a ceremony at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.

“It’s such a great thing the school does to recognize the kids. I appreciate the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame for recognizing that team. It was definitely something special because it was our first Penguins Cup championship and state championship team,” Quaker Valley hockey coach Kevin Quinn said. “It gives them a chance to come back and spend time with each other, too. This past year at our alumni game, it was nice to see some of them. It felt like it was just yesterday that team was playing. When I get to see them, it brings back so many great memories. In my opinion, that’s one of the most talented teams this area has ever produced.”

Quinn started Quaker Valley’s high school hockey program in 1997, and the Quakers began varsity hockey in 1998. They reached the pinnacle in less than a decade and did it in dominant fashion. The 2005-06 team finished 25-1. The Quakers avenged their only loss of the season by beating Serra Catholic for the Penguins Cup at Mellon Arena. They followed that by dismantling Penncrest, 9-2, to win the state title at RMU Island Sports Center.

“The first time was huge for us, especially for a smaller school like Quaker Valley and we’re competing against the likes of Serra Catholic and Bishop McCort, who were so good for so many years,” Quinn said. “Then, we had to beat a school three or four times our size from Philly.”

Brothers Furman and Colin South helped lead Quaker Valley to the state title with four and three goals, respectively, against Penncrest. They skated on the team’s first line with Tim Hall. All three went on to play NCAA Division I hockey. The South brothers attended Robert Morris, and Hall went to Colorado College.

“That group was so special,” Quinn said. “We had 20 players, and a majority of them played at a high level in amateurs and a bunch of them went on to continue playing at a high level.

“Our practices were just a blast those years, having all these guys showing up. That was a fun, fun group to coach.”

With even more firepower in the likes of PIHL all-stars Breton McNamara, George Jackson, Mikael Lemieux and Shawn Ritchey, the Quakers outscored opponents 138-31. Goaltender Zac Zinger was a PIHL All-Star, too. He owns program career records with an 87-8-4 record, 1.59 goals-against average, a .929 save percentage and 29 shutouts.

“Zac Zinger was definitely a key member of that team. Our defensemen, all the leadership and the quality depth of the team — the people who bought in even though they weren’t getting much ice time — were so important,” Quinn said. “From a nostalgia standpoint, it brings me back to all the people who helped start the program not too many years prior, and we quickly became, not only competitive, but state champions.

“That ’06 team is definitely one of the top teams I’ve seen in high school hockey in any classification. It was a great, great experience. I think it’s good to look back and recognize those accomplishments and not just focus at the D-I kids. There were plenty of kids on that team who are still paying adult league hockey who got to experience a once-in-a-lifetime achievement. They still have those championship rings. For me, I will never forget that group or any kid on that team. I literally remember all their games because of how fun it was to coach that team.”

Joe Sager is a freelance writer.

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