The Yellowstone Quake may not be the most dominant team in junior hockey this year but have grown leaps and bounds since last season. Despite losing their only road match with Bozeman 3-1 this past weekend, in some ways the close game was more of a measuring stick as to how far the team has come.
“We know we’re playing basically the top two teams if we get past the first round of the playoffs so we keep bonding together ... to go far,” said Ryan Lovelace.
Despite allowing an early goal Yellowstone (17-21-2) kept it close with first place Bozeman (34-6-0) through the second period.
Winning on the road in any sport is hard, and the Quake had it rough on Saturday. Since there was only one weekend game the team voyaged six hours through blizzard conditions to make it to Bozeman shortly before their game.
“It’s easier for us to play here (Cody) than on the road,” Lovelace said. “We’re always relaxed at the house waiting for the game and then when we get here it’s not like a six-hour bus ride. “It’s a 10-minute car drive.”
They also had to play without leading scorer Dylan Rumpke, who had travel delays after returning from practicing with the Bismarck Bobcats.
Cade Rosansky scored the team’s only goal on an assist from Jack Harris and Spencer Platt with 7:26 remaining to make it 2-1.
Oberlin said it was just a matter of missed opportunities that held the Quake back from adding another notch to the win column.
“I still feel like that’s something we need to work on more is shooting the puck when we have opportunities,” coach Phil Oberlin said. “Sometimes we tend to want to take that extra stride or that extra stick handle and get a little bit of a clearer shot on net.”
Bozeman scored the game-clincher with 17 seconds remaining on an open net.
“We couldn’t hold onto possession and they just got it out,” Rosansky said.
Michael Allman made 46 saves in net for the Quake.
If the Quake make a playoff run they would likely have to get by Bozeman at some point.
“We just got to keep battling through the adversity, even if pucks sometimes don’t go our way,” Lovelace said.
Unlike last year’s squad, the Quake are getting consistent points far down the lineup.
“Everyone has hot streaks,” Rosansky said.
“And we feed off each other because of that,” Lovelace added.
After playing without their leading scorer Dylan Rumpke last weekend, the Quake will get him back for Friday’s game. “He would’ve been nice to have,” Lovelace said.
The Quake will now turn their attention to a home stand with Great Falls (27-9-5) next weekend.