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Former Quaker Valley standout Connor Quinn, left, and Hopewell graduate Tanner Palocsik, both now playing for the Jersey Hitmen of the USPHL, were selected to play in the league all-star game earlier this week.

Connor Quinn, Tanner Palocsik shine in junior hockey spotlight

01/29/2018, 9:30am EST
By Joe Sager / Times sports correspondent

Former Quaker Valley standout Connor Quinn, left, and Hopewell graduate Tanner Palocsik, both now playing for the Jersey Hitmen of the USPHL, were selected to play in the league all-star game earlier this week.

WAYNE, N.J. — It’s all hockey all the time for Connor Quinn and Tanner Palocsik.

The former local high school standouts are playing junior hockey for the Jersey Hitmen of the United States Premier Hockey League’s National Collegiate Development Conference. The team is based in Wayne, New Jersey.

Living with host families, they train almost every day and play against teams based mainly on the East Coast, which offers exposure to many scouts and college coaches.

“Having fun is a big part of it, but you have to make sure you take care of business,” Quinn said. “They keep us busy with a high workload — it’s all about player development.”

Both players gained recognition as standouts for the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite travel team while they were in high school. Junior hockey is a natural progression for players hoping to earn college scholarships. Recently, Palocsik committed to Dartmouth College for the fall of 2020.

“It’s really exciting for me,” he said. “It’s pretty much been a dream of mine to go to a school like that in the Ivy League and play D-I college hockey. I am real excited about that.”

Palocsik, a defenseman, graduated from Hopewell last spring.

“It’s a lot different being away from home and playing,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun. I’m playing hockey every day, and it pretty much doesn’t get better than that.”

Quinn, a center, is a 2016 Quaker Valley product. He graduated as the Quakers’ all-time leading scorer with 154 goals, 184 assists and 338 points in 96 games played. He spent last season playing junior hockey in Canada with the Brockville Braves (CCHL) and Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL). He is third on the Hitmen with 28 points.

“It’s been a great year for me, development-wise and, with that, comes success,” he said. “It’s definitely different as opposed to my time last year in Canada. This is a great group of guys and a great organization. The facilities here are second to none, and our coaches have a great history of developing players. I can’t complain about anything.”

Quinn helped the Pens Elite capture the 2016 USA Hockey Under-18 Tier-I national championship. Two teammates from that team are also on the Hitmen — Upper St. Clair’s Logan Stork and Wheeling’s Luke Edgerton. Palocsik joined the Pens Elite squad the following year.

“It’s nice knowing some guys on the team and having some ties to home,” Quinn said.

The players spend their days at the team’s rink, going through off-ice strategy and film sessions and working out in between practices. Some players take online college courses in their free time as well.

“It’s a lot of hockey, but I am definitely happy to be here with them,” Quinn said. “It’s all about player development. With how much we’re competing at practice and in games, I know I am getting better.”

The Hitmen’s regular season is winding down, but both Quinn and Palocsik took part in the USPHL’s all-star game Monday at Merrimack College.

“That was great. I really like it here,” Palocsik said. “They do a really good job developing players. I am just going to keep getting better every day.”

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