Quake a known Top team in the League, not just Frontier Division
Quake go 2-1 during Showcase
By LEW FREEDMAN Dec 21, 201
The open question when the Yellowstone Quake departed Cody for the North American Tier III junior hockey league Showcase in Blaine, Minn., was how good are they?
The Quake was dominating the Frontier Division with 21 wins, one regulation loss and one shootout loss. But being matched against three top teams either first or second in their divisions from around the country confronted Yellowstone with the unknown.
Three games later, after polishing off the New England Stars 6-2, handling the St. Louis Junior Blues 7-2, and dropping a tough 2-0 decision to the Binghamton Junior Senators, they had an answer going into a holiday break.
“We’re just as good as anyone out there,” winger Curtis Greenbush said.
The Quake, which resumes divisional play at Riley Arena in Cody on Dec. 30-31 against the Gillette Wild, now knows its belief of being quite capable of reaching the end-of-season Silver Cup playoff tournament is not misplaced.
“It’s a statement to the league,” said Carter Johnson, who had a goal and an assist against New England and two assists against St.Louis.
Yellowstone opened Showcase play against the Stars, holding second place in the Coastal Division with a 16-4-3-3 record, with those losses in overtime or shootouts.
The Quake employed three goals in both the second and third periods, plus smothering defense holding New England to 15 shots on net, to keep extending its lead after briefly falling behind 1-0.
Several of Yellowstone’s top goal-scorers came through. Slick passing Reed Kelly, the club’s leading scorer, had four assists. The center from Somerset, Wis., has 22 goals and 34 assists. Max Doner notched his 13th and 14th goals. Tony Dahlberg, Matt Runyon and Pablo Pantoja all scored.
“It was a good game,” coach Ryan Theros said. “We got out to a slow start in the first period, then some positive encouragement got the boys back going again back to normal. It was a good game after that controlling the puck and remembering the details we work on.”
The Quake like to say they are going for 60 shots on net, but while that kind of aggressive net swarming did not occur, the team shooting percentage was higher than usual with six goals on 34 shots. Yellowstone goalie Nick Ottenbacher stopped 15 out of 17 Stars’ chances.
The second game at Schwan Super Rink, part of a 300,000-square-foot hockey rink operation, pitted the Quake against Binghamton, a team that went to Minnesota with a formidable reputation. This was a game to remember.
Binghamton scored one goal in the first period and it held up. The Senators’ goalie Steven Schmitt stopped all 30 Quake shots while Ottenbacher made 32 saves on 33 shots. In the waning moments, Theros pulled Ottenbacher for an extra attacker and Binghamton added an empty net goal with 43 seconds to go for the final margin.
In a very unusual scenario, there were no penalties whistled over the entire 60 minutes.
“I can’t remember a game where there were zero penalties called,” Theros said. “Kind of a unique that one with both teams working hard and playing the game the right way with a ref letting some of the usual stuff go, which was nice to see.”
Ironically, Johnson, who especially shines in short-handed situations and contributes on the power play, was flummoxed because neither situation arose.
“I like to get my game going that way,” Johnson said. “It was surprising.”
Greenbush was impressed with Binghamton’s ability and said the Senators stand out compared to Frontier Division.
“Binghamton,” he said, “they are by far the best team we’ve played. Ottenbacher played super great. It was a game of the goalies.”
Binghamton, which plays in the Northeast Division, has an overall record of 28-1-0-1.
Yellowstone wound up with the five-goal victory over St. Louis, the leading team in the Midwest Division with a 20-7-0-1 record.
Jesse Lawman and Kelly each fired in two goals (he has 17), and the Quake also got goals from Pantoja and Dahlberg (giving him 17). Johnson, the Quake’s lone local player from Meeteetse, added two assists.
Brady Anderson took over in net and got the win for the Quake.
After seeing some of the other top teams around the country, Greenbush likes the Quake’s situation with a record of 23-2-0-1. But he said there is one area of improvement to work on.
“We’ve got to get more of those dirty goals in front of the net,” he said