Quake stay in first place with sweep
By LEW FREEDMAN Jan 25, 2017 0
When Pablo Pantoja scored a goal and added an assist in the Yellowstone Quake’s 5-3 victory over Helena last Friday night, coach Ryan Theros teased him.
It happened to be a game when Pantoja had numerous chances around net.
“I said, ‘You know, Pablo, when you shoot the puck it’s more fun if it hits the back of the net,’” Theros said.
A day later, as the Quake swept the two-game series 11-2, Pantoja scored four goals, including three in the third period. Initially, one of his scores was credited to the wrong Quake player, but Theros got the official scoresheet fixed.
“Then he said, “See? It’s more fun,’” Pantoja said.
The Quake had 78 shots on goal that night.
The victories kept the Quake in first place in the North American Tier III junior hockey league’s Frontier Division. Yellowstone’s record of 29-3-0-3 is worth two points more than the Great Falls Americans’ total.
Four goals? Pantoja, from Jac, Spain, said it has been a good few years since he scored so much in a single game.
“I’m very happy,” he said.
Theros was content with the two wins, but happy might be stretching it. He felt the team sleepwalked through the opener, despite firing 67 shots on net.
Pantoja, Ian Doner, Jesse Lawman and Tony Dahlberg (two) scored goals in the Friday night game.
“The first game we kind of got away from what makes us successful,” Theros said.
Theros immediately lectured the players, while still in uniform in the locker room, about the need to pay attention to detail.
“Saturday, they went out and did everything as they should,” Theros said.
Also Saturday, Dahlberg upped his season total to 23 goals and Lawman added two more goals for 25. Max Doner notched his 20th and after his four goals Pantoja has 16.
Defenseman Nick Ligocki collected what Theros called a “Gordie Howe hat trick.”
The Hall of Fame Detroit Red Wings star was known for his high scoring and toughness. Ligocki collected a goal, assist and became embroiled a fight. He had never heard the Gordie Howe expression, but was pleased to be mentioned in the same sentence as the all-time great.
“That’s pretty cool,” Ligocki said.
Dahlberg, of Lakeville, Minn., was penalty prone early in the season, but
has swapped goals for penalties lately.
“I’ve been looking at the net more,” Dahlberg said. “I’ve been getting more opportunities.”
There was a difference between the two wins over the Bighorns, Dahlberg said.
“We came out kind of flat the first night,” he said. “We came out cocky and we didn’t put the puck in the net. Saturday, we came out strong in the first, second and third periods.”
(Lew Freedman can be reached at email@example.com.)