Sophomore trio helps Quaker Valley hockey team to 8-0 start

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Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM


Let’s tag them as sophomore sensations.

Through two months of PIHL action, the Quaker Valley hockey team — led by an all-sophomore top line of Jace Vasbinder, Max Modrovich and Colin York — was undefeated at 8-0 in the Varsity A Gold Division.

“Obviously, record-wise we are quite satisfied,” coach Kevin Quinn said. “We were hoping to be where we are; get off to a great start and achieve the highest seed possible. We feel we have an opportunity to win and it’s my job to make sure we get better every game.

“As a coach, I know we can be much better. I’m happy with our goaltending and our young players stepping up, but I know we are going to have to be better in a lot of ways.”

Vasbinder and Modrovich are dynamic offensive players as fast-skating forwards.

Through eight games, Vasbinder led the Quakers offensively with 14 goals and five assists and was complemented by Modrovich’s seven goals and eight assists.

“They’ve gotten off to a great start in every way,” Quinn said. “They play in all situations and have produced. They bring it every game. They are tough competitors with a lot of talent to back it up.”

Vasbinder was honored as the PIHL Class A Player of the Month for October when he had 11 goals and five assists in five games.

“I am very grateful to have been named player of the month,” Vasbinder said. “I think it is a great reminder to keep up the hard work and show that hard work pays off.”

Vasbinder, who accounted for 10 goals and four assists as a freshman, is hoping the Quakers can maintain their perfect record throughout the 2023-24 season.

“I think our team has been performing well through the first half of the season,” Vasbinder said. “We have all been working hard at practice to prepare for the games, which has led to our early success. We have some tough matchups ahead, but if we continue our hard work and dedication, we have a great chance of winning our division.

“We always talk about being relentless is something you have to do to win games, so my expectation is for all of us to be prepared and give it our all each game we play regardless of the score. We all have the same mindset that we want to win, which will help us obtain our goal of staying undefeated.”

Vasbinder, Modrovich and York make up QV’s top line this year. York contributed six assists to Vasbinder’s and Modrovich’s offensive antics.

“But we have also been relying on (forwards) Coleman Carey, Luke Koehler, Ben McHenry, Noah Kenneweg, Kieran Cain, Hunter Kronk, Charlie D’Antonio, Charlie Pyle, Aidan Dillaman and Lance Shaner,” Quinn said.

Carey and Kenneweg are seniors; Cain and Pyle are freshmen. And there are more sophomores: Koehler, McHenry (4 goals, 2 assists), Kronk, D’Antonio, Dillaman and Shaner.

QV finished with a 13-6-0-1 regular-season record last year, good for fifth place in the division, then went 1-1 in the PIHL playoffs, blanking Indiana, 3-0, before losing to Fox Chapel, 5-3.

This year, the Quakers allowed just nine goals in going 8-0 and attaining three shutouts. Junior goaltender Landon Buterbaugh, a PIHL all-star a year ago, was 6-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average.

“Landon has been incredible. He’s the top goalie in our league,” Quinn said. “We would not be 8-0 without him. Landon pushes himself very hard, and I love his competitiveness.

“Landon along with Ian Lorang form the best goaltending duo in our league. We are fortunate to have both.”

Lorang, a sophomore, chipped in with a 2-0 record, 0.50 goals-against average and one shutout. He surrendered just one goal on 24 shots so far.

The Quakers’ defensive corps is anchored by senior Will Watson, the team leader in assists with 13, and sophomore Jacob Keisel, who had three goals and three assists.

Watson, the team captain and a fourth-year contributor on defense, and Keisel were selected as league all-stars in 2022-23.

“Will and Jacob have been our top defensive pair for two years now,” Quinn said. “They play a lot of hockey for us, both offensively and defensively. They are excellent skaters and play the game the right way. I can’t remember a freshman skater that has made the all-star game (in the past) for us. Jacob is an advanced player with all the tools to be a great player. He is eager to learn and get better. And Will brings it every night.

“Our defense is a strength of our team. We have not allowed more than two goals in any game this year. We also rely on (junior) Liam Welge and (freshmen) Sawyer Krotine and Jack Watson on defense.”

QV was being hotly pursued by Shaler (7-1) and Indiana (6-1-0-1) in the Varsity A Gold Division standings at the end of November.

The Quakers averaged close to five goals per game offensively and shut out McDowell, 7-0, Meadville, 3-2, and Mars, 2-0.

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