JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Plenty of heads probably will turn when fans glance at the Bishop McCort Catholic High School hockey team’s bench during games next season.
Art McQuillan, who spent 30 seasons during two stints as head coach at Westmont Hilltop High School, will take over as head coach at Bishop McCort. The Crimson Crushers and McQuillan’s former Hilltoppers team had a storied rivalry that often brought huge crowds to 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial for Thanksgiving Eve contests.
It might take some time to adjust to the sight of McQuillan wearing crimson and gold colors instead of red and gray.
“Everybody knows about the intensity and the rivalry,” McQuillan said, preferring to downplay the topic.
“I’m honored to be selected as the person best suited to lead this program.” McQuillan said.
“You just never know what turns life may take. This opportunity presents a new challenge with new people in a new environment. We are excited to get started. October can’t come soon enough.”
McQuillan posted a 559-324-54 record at Westmont Hilltop, with a state runner-up finish in 2003 and a Penguin Cup runner-up in 1998.
In 30 seasons, his teams advanced to the Penguin Cup playoffs 28 times. McQuillan coached Westmont from 1987-88 to 2013-14 and again from 2017-2020.
The Hilltoppers had winning records 27 times under McQuillan, with only two losing marks and one .500 slate.
McQuillan will follow another local hockey icon. John Bradley stepped down as Bishop McCort’s head coach after 25 seasons, 411 wins and two state championships and two state runner-up finishes.
Rivals as their teams played against each other, McQuillan and Bradley were friends once the final buzzer sounded.
“As far as hockey goes here at Bishop McCort, we believe that attorney McQuillan is going to fulfill a very large hole that has been left behind by the retirement of John Bradley,” said Bishop McCort Catholic Principal Tom Smith.
“We feel we have found a hockey coach that comes highly recommended by John Bradley to fill that void. John believes we will not miss a beat because of this hiring.
“He is an exceptional coach and will do an exceptional job here at Bishop McCort. I couldn’t be more excited for our kids.”
Bishop McCort’s hockey program once was dominant in what now is the PIHL, winning five Pennsylvania Cups from 1994-97 and again in 1999, while finishing as state runner-up two other years. McCort moved to the Laurel Mountain Hockey League and won the local league’s playoff championship the past two seasons.
Bradley replaced former Johnstown Jets star Galen Head as head coach of the Crimson Crushers and led the team to state titles in 1997 and 1999, working with another former Jet and “Slap Shot” star Steve Carlson. Head helped found the program and was coach of three state championship squads.
“Galen was my first coach,” McQuillan said. “My connection to McCort is long before there was high school hockey there. Galen was our travel team coach. He taught us a lot. He taught us more than about Xs and Os. Galen tried to invest in kids both on and off the ice. That’s a legacy I’ll aim to continue.”
Through the years, McQuillan and Bradley emerged as two of the top coaches locally, throughout western Pennsylvania and even on a statewide level.
Bradley won 411 games in 25 seasons at Bishop McCort with the string of Pennsylvania Cup and Penguin Cup titles. He led the Crimson Crushers to a pair of Laurel Mountain Hockey League titles during his last two seasons.
Bradley told Smith and McCort athletic program leaders of his intention to retire following the 2021-22 season. The LMHL handed Bradley a two-year suspension near the end of the season, although the school and the coach said his retirement was planned well in advance of the suspension.
A long-time Johnstown attorney off the ice, McQuillan helped the Hilltoppers become a top team in Western Pennsylvania, even as Westmont often competed at the Class 3A level in the WPIHL during the late 1980s. He surpassed the 500-win milestone in 2013.
McQuillan stepped away in 2014, the same year he had a DUI, but returned to coach three more seasons through the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 schedule.
Former Hilltop standout player Don Lamison, who served as head coach at Westmont from 2014-17 and again in 2020-21, will join his former coach on the Crushers staff. Lamison also had been an assistant under McQuillan and was on current Westmont head coach Kris Carlson’s staff last season.
Also on McQuillan’s Crimson Crushers staff will be McCort product Fred Hicks, veteran coach Mike Hudec and Kevin Hewitt.
“Coach McQuillan is an experienced leader that will continue the tradition of success here at Bishop McCort,” Bradley said of his successor.