Quaker Valley senior Jimmy Perkins has a knack for scoring, especially in big moments.
So when the Quakers trailed Freeport, 2-1, early in the third period of their PIHL Class A Penguins Cup semifinal, it was no surprise that it was Perkins outracing two Yellowjackets to the puck and then beating goaltender Matt Huston to tie the game at 2.
And it was no surprise that when the Quakers fell behind again, 3-2, and needed a tying goal with less than 40 seconds to play, it was Perkins who answered with his third goal as Quaker Valley eventually pulled out a 4-3 victory on its way to a third consecutive Penguins Cup title.
"He's learned so many different ways to score," Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. "And he seems to have great timing. Whenever we needed it, Jimmy would produce."
Perkins led not only the Quakers, but the top three classifications of the PIHL, with 49 goals and 86 points this season.
For his on-ice accomplishments, he has been named the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's high school hockey player of the year.
"When I started [playing hockey], it would have been a stretch to think I'd be where I am now," Perkins said. "But Kevin Quinn and the other coaches pushed me to be as good a player as I can be, and my drive and determination helped me get here."
Perkins started playing hockey after seeing the Quakers' 2006 team win the state championship.
It wasn't easy at first, and there was a time when he almost quit. But, at the urging of Quinn, he stuck with it and was one of Quaker Valley's main contributors on the 2012 state championship team, scoring 23 goals and adding 18 assists.
He was even better as a junior, leading Quaker Valley with 38 goals and 69 points as he helped the Quakers finish second in the state.
But he saved his best for last, finishing this season with 16 multi-goal games and a career-best 13 power-play goals.
"The game slowed down for me as time progressed," Perkins said. "I was seeing everything so much better. Last year even, I might panic when I saw players flying at me when I had the puck. But this season, I wasn't afraid."
Perkins never seemed to be afraid, as this 5-foot-8, 160-pound forward played much bigger as he attacked the net and the corners constantly. He uses the same fearless style in lacrosse, where he was named the WPIAL Division II player of the year last season after registering 90 goals and 42 assists in 17 games for the district runner-up Quakers.
Perkins has opted to play lacrosse in college, signing with Division II's Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio. He finished his hockey career with three Penguins Cups, a state title, and as the fifth-leading scorer (126 goals, 232 points) in the Quaker Valley program's 17-year history.
"He goes down as one of the better players to ever play at Quaker Valley, and no one [in the top 10] got a later start than him," Quinn said. "He got everything he put into it."
Chris Siak - Bethel Park
Pos: Forward. Year: Senior. Ht & Wt: 5-11, 195. ... One of the most talented goal scorers in the PIHL, Siak led Class AAA with 33 goals despite missing all or most of five games after requiring stitches for a hand injury. He had 11 multi-goal games for the Penguins Cup runner-up Black Hawks.
Randy Unger - Bishop Canevin
Pos: Forward. Year: Senior. Ht & Wt: 5-8, 165. ... Unger was the offensive leader for the highest-scoring team in Class AA, the Penguins Cup winning Crusaders. He became the sixth player in the last decade to score more than 70 regular-season points in PIHL Class AA, and his 75 were the most during that span.
Derek Lesnak - Bethel Park
Pos: Defense. Year: Senior. Ht & Wt: 5-9, 165. ... In 2012, Lesnak played forward and led the Penguins Cup champions in points. But he's played mostly on the blue line the past two seasons, leading a defense that allowed the fewest goals in Class AAA this season. He kept his scoring touch, too, finishing second on the team with 35 points.
Joe Kittelberger - Peters Township
Pos: Defense. Year: Senior. Ht & Wt: 5-11, 185. ... Kittelberger was the captain of the state champion Indians and the anchor of a defense that was the third stingiest in Class AAA. He only scored four goals, but one was the game-winner in the Pennsylvania Cup against La Salle College.
Brian Baker - Peters Township
Pos: Goalie. Year: Senior. Ht & Wt: 5-10, 155. ... After watching his team lose in the Penguins Cup final each of the past three years, Baker made sure it didn't happen again. A two-time PIHL All-Star, he went 4-0 with a 1.25 goals-against average and .948 save percentage in the postseason to lead the Indians to the Class AAA Penguins Cup and Pennsylvania Cup titles.
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