There has often been discussion about what hurts the pride of a sports team more, losing by a large margin, or losing a tight game.
This might be the right time to ask the Yellowstone Quake. The answer is pretty much that they both cause great pain.
Last Friday, the Quake lost to the Sheridan Hawks 8-2 on the road and last Saturday, the Quake lost to the Bozeman Icedogs 2-1 at home at Riley Arena.
“It is so crushing,” forward Dylan Rumpke said of the one-goal loss. “This was worse than the 8-2 loss last night.”
They were different types of nightmares in North American Tier III junior hockey for the Quake, though both were within Frontier Division play.
The game in Sheridan was at the Whitney Rink in the M&M Center as the community adopted a team that formerly was the Wisconsin Whalers.
The Hawks overpowered the Quake, outshooting the visitors 59-15, but Yellowstone players and coaches blamed themselves more for the blowout than their foes.
“We were that bad,” Cody coach Phil Oberlin said. “Our effort was bad.”
Although Quake players have suffered some large-margin losses over the last season-plus, Oberlin has almost never questioned their try.
The players also felt their performance against Sheridan was lacking.
“It just shows you have to grind away,” defenseman Spencer Platt said. “I think we can hang with those teams.”
The two Cody goal-scorers in Sheridan were Rumpke and Jack Harris.
Sheridan is 3-3, but the Quake dropped to 1-5 following the Bozeman defeat, the team that is leading the division at 5-0.
“I think we played a pretty exceptional game,” defenseman Mason Merager said. “(Sheridan) is no better than Bozeman. We could have had this one for sure.”
The Sheridan loss was pretty much a write-off. The Bozeman loss stung.
For the second time in two home games, the Quake began a contest with a two-minute power play because the opposing team was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for skating into the Quake zone during warmups.
It was an oddity, but the man advantage did not pay off in a 0-0 first period.
Bozeman took a 1-0 lead in the second period, but Yellowstone tied it within a minute on a shot by Will Yates, with assists going to Evan Snyder and Harris.
The game stayed that way until 16:57 of the third period when Bozeman’s Andrew Bertolini put the Icedogs ahead for good.
One assist on the play went to Luke Hartge, who was a top scorer for the Quake last year, including once scoring seven goals in a single game.
Hartge went to Bozeman for the playoffs, but was expected to return to Cody this season. Only he stayed with the Icedogs.
Bozeman did outshoot Yellowstone 35-21, keeping goalie Michael Allman busy, as always.
The Quake kept scrapping in the final 1 minute, 46 seconds, with Allman pulled and a power play. The 6-4 advantage provided hope.
“I thought, ‘All right, we’re going to get back in the game,’” Rumpke said. “We thought we were going to come back.”
Only the Quake could not tie things and move on to overtime.
Yellowstone has two home games this weekend, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Riley Arena versus the Missoula Junior Bruins.
Several Quake players have recently recovered from illnesses, including Merager, who had pneumonia, but now are healthy.
He believes the Quake – at full strength – can show much better in the Frontier Division.
“I think we can be up there,” he said.