Quake streak into playoffs

By MATTHEW DAVIS | Cody Enterprise

The Quake finished the season on a high-note, sweeping the Glacier Nationals in three games.

Yellowstone – clinging to third place in the league – needed every win.

The Eugene Generals (20-18) are just two games behind the Quake, and they could steal the third spot this weekend, if they win their three remaining games.

"It's good to go into the playoffs on a winning streak," said forward Drew Parus, who led the team with five weekend goals. "It definitely gives us a better chance of taking third place, and hopefully it'll give us some momentum as we head into the playoffs."

In the series opener, the Quake struggled out of the gate.

After a scoreless first period, Yellowstone and the Nationals traded goals to open the second, and later in the period, Glacier took a two-goal lead.

But the Quake (22-18-2) finished the second strong. Parus, Zach Tuchklaper, Tyler Elkins, Andreas Olofsson and Darek Scott all netted goals before the end of the period to give the Quake a 6-3 lead heading into the third.

"We came out slow on Friday," Parus said. "But we picked it up in the second and finished strong."

In the third, Yellowstone shut down the last-place Nationals. Glacier put up one more late in the period, before the Quake finished off the 6-4 win.

The Nationals put up a fight Saturday, but Yellowstone fought off the comeback for a 6-5 win.

Parus opened the first period with a quick, shorthanded goal, but Glacier came right back, scoring 30 seconds later on the power play.

They traded goals again, before Yellowstone took the lead on a Nate Morris goal to end the first.

In the second, Chad Manning pushed the Quake lead to 4-2, before Glacier netted one of their own. Later in the period, Parus and Scott scored to give the Quake a 6-3 lead.

In the third, Glacier could come within one before the final buzzer.

"For us as a team, we're still struggling from the last road trip," head coach Joe Cardarelli said. "But as individuals, it was good for us to get out of that funk."

The Quake players had one thing on their minds Sunday.

They wanted to finish the sweep.

Tuchklaper scored early in the first for the Quake, and Yellowstone and Glacier rode a 1-1 tie through most of the period.

Alex Johansons scored his third goal of the weekend later in the opening period, and Michael Pijanowski stretched the Quake lead to 4-1 before the second.

"The last home game of a three-game series, we aren't usually at our best," Cardarelli said. "So it was good to see us come out strong tonight."

Tuchklaper's fourth goal of the weekend opened the third. And Parus tacked on two more before the final buzzer.

"When we win everyone comes together," Parus said. "So now we're going to hard in practice and ride this streak into the playoffs."

The NORPAC playoff schedule hasn't been decided yet.

If Yellowstone takes the third spot, they'll face the sixth-place West Sound Warriors (12-26). But if the Quake drops to fourth, they'll play Vancouver (16-23).

The playoffs will likely begin in Cody at the Riley Arena on Friday, Feb. 24.