Quake take three wins in busy week
By LEW FREEDMAN Jan 11, 2017
Jesse Lawman and Max Doner all smiles as the team continues to establish dominance
Nick Ottenbacher did not want to take too much credit for his shutout on Friday night, because his teammates provided such a defensive protection and an offensive cushion.
The Yellowstone Quake rang up goals as if they were playing pinball to overwhelm the Billings Bulls 13-0 at Riley Arena, and Ottenbacher made sure to deflect every opponent shot sideways. True, as the Quake peppered away at two Billings net-minders with 84 shots on goal, Ottenbacher needed to make only 15 saves. Sometimes, he said, the action at his end of the rink was so peaceful he stayed alert by singing songs in his head.
“You’ve got to stay prepared,” Ottenbacher said. “Of course you try to stay focused. I shifted back and forth between songs. Sometimes one just sticks in your head when you are listening to the car radio.”
One fitting tune to borrow might have been “Hail to the Victors,” the
University of Michigan fight song.
Victors described the Quake over an unusual schedule stretch. Yellowstone played three games in three cities in three nights between last Thursday and Saturday and won all three to keep a tight hold on first place in the North American Tier III junior hockey’s Frontier Division. The Quake record is 27-3 plus one shootout loss.
Yellowstone traveled to Bozeman, Mont., and beat the Icedogs 4-2 on Thursday, thumped Billings in Cody and then 24 hours later topped the Bulls 10-1 at Centennial Ice Arena in Billings. The Quake totaled 58 shots on goal in the third game, and Brady Anderson stopped 35 of 36 Bulls shots for Yellowstone.
By the end of the weekend center Reed Kelly, the Quake’s leading scorer, had 27 goals and 39 assists for 66 points on the season. Kelly notched two of the team’s four goals versus Bozeman, with Jesse Lawman and Cole Stewart collecting the others.
Although the Icedogs usually trail the Quake at the buzzer, most of the games are tough.
“They never quit,” defenseman Mason Stewart said. “They’ve got heart.”
Bozeman is in the hunt for the fourth playoff spot. The Bulls sit seventh in the eight-team division at 4-26 with one shootout loss, about the same distance from the playoff as Cody is from London.
The Quake’s bus did not return to Cody from the 205-mile return drive from Bozeman until 3 a.m., so coach Ryan Theros was pleased with the way the team came out looking fresh and scoring four goals off an astonishing 34 first-period shots in the home game against Billings. He said he was also glad so many players got into the scoring column.
“The guys came to play as a team and moved the puck well,” Theros said. “I don’t want to see a one-man show.”
There were plenty of points to go around. Lawman scored a hat trick. Kelly scored two goals with two assists. Mason Stewart scored two goals. Max Doner scored one goal and added four assists.
In a peculiarity, this was a penalty-free game, the second for the Quake in a matter of weeks. The team played a penalty-free game against Binghamton during the league’s Showcase Tournament in Minnesota in mid-December. At the time Theros said he couldn’t remember being involved in one before.
This was not the Quake’s single highest scoring game of the 2016-17 season. On Dec. 10, just prior to the Showcase, Yellowstone clobbered this same Billings team 14-0 at Riley Arena.
This time the 34 shots in a single period stood out.
“There’s always room for more,” Mason Stewart said. “No, you don’t see that often.”
You don’t see 16 different players appearing on the score sheet either, as Quake guys did in the 13-0 win.
A night later eight players scored the 10 goals, with Doner and Tony Dahlberg collecting two apiece.
“When every line is scoring, it’s cool,” Stewart said.