North/West Xtra: Quaker Valley hockey sailing along with 11-0 record
Quaker Valley's Ryan Dickson, left, battles Freeport's Justin Drzemiecki for possession of the puck during a game earlier this season.
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Among goaltenders who have played at least four games, Jonathan Pijar has the lowest goals-against average and best save percentage in the entire PIHL this season.
Meanwhile, teammate Parker Sherry is fourth in both those categories.
Any team would be lucky to have one goaltender enjoying that type of success. But Quaker Valley has them both.
Pijar and Sherry have combined to go 10-0 and allow a total of seven goals to lead the defending Class A state champion Quakers (11-0) to the best start in the league.
"I haven't been that surprised by their play," Quaker Valley coach Kevin Quinn said. "I've known both goalies for almost their entire hockey careers."
Pijar, who was the backup for Doug Revak last season, is 4-0 with two shutouts and sports a 0.50 goals-against average. He has stopped 45-of-47 shots.
The fact that this senior netminder is facing so few shots is a credit to his defense.
"Our defense is pretty solid," Pijar said. "They are very good at what they do. I know they do everything they can to keep the puck away from the net."
And when teams do get shots on Pijar, he said his style of play is all about efficiency.
"It's not as fancy as most people are used to seeing, but it is just as effective if not moreso," Pijar said.
His results have shown that so far.
Sherry, who said he plays a hybrid style of goaltending, has been between the pipes five times this season and won all five times. A sophomore, he has a 1.00 goals-against average and has stopped 79-of-84 shots. He has one shutout.
"I think every goaltender's goal is to get a shutout every time they are in net, but I try to think about at most giving up one goal so that I'm not too mad if I don't get a shutout," Sherry said. "So every time, I'm just trying to limit them to one goal, play hard and leave everything I have on the ice."
Only once has Sherry failed to meet his goal. On Nov. 15, he allowed two goals in a 5- 2 win against Mars in a rematch of last season's Penguins Cup final.
The two goaltenders have practically alternated in goal for the Quakers this season, with Tice Harkins also getting a start recently. Despite the fact Sherry and Pijar play the same position, they said there is no animosity between them.
"We try to bring out the best in each other," Pijar said. "We are both very supportive when the other is in net. We know we are both very capable goaltenders in this league."
With Pijar and Sherry manning the net for Class A's top scoring offense, Quaker Valley is the prohibitive favorite to repeat as Penguins Cup champion.
Sherry said this team still isn't quite at the level of last season's team.
"I think we resemble their play and style," Sherry said. "But I'd say last season they had better communication on the ice. They had played together for four years. We are trying to build up to that."
But in the end, it doesn't matter how close they get to last season's level of play. The Quakers just want the same result.
"We have a similar goal of winning the Penguins Cup and the state championship," Pijar said. "We're just trying to improve each day and get more efficient so we're better when the playoffs start."
First Published January 10, 2013 12:00 am