The Yellowstone Quake (14-19-2) won both games it played against the Butte Cobras (6-31-0) last weekend, earning its first road sweep since 2018.
“I don’t think we realized that as a goal or anything but it feels good,” coach Phil Oberlin said with a chuckle.
Dylan Rumpke notched four goals over the two games. Also, earning his first Quake goal was Ethan Gicewicz, a native of Hawaii.
Gicewicz said there isn’t much of a hockey scene in the Aloha State. The 19 year old grew up in a military family and thus travelled around a bit while growing up. It was actually another beachside locale, San Diego, where he learned to play hockey.
“Once I found hockey I was kind of like, this is it, this is my sport,” he said.
After stops in North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington, Gicewicz moved back to Hawaii for another stint where he engaged in more traditional Hawaiian sports like surfing, volleyball and basketball.
He said although there is one rink in Honolulu, it is of poor quality, and no teams existed that he could play on.
“Just (played) for fun at that point because there’s not too many people who actually play there,” Gicewicz said.
He said explaining to his non-hockey-loving friends, most of which who had never experienced snow or ice in their lifetime, a sport played on ice skates, was a bit of a challenge.
“They don’t really realize it’s like a big sport,” he said. “They don’t really realize how fun and impactful it is.”
By high school, he found himself in yet another non-traditional hockey climate in Tucson, Ariz. Here, he where he played with the Tucson Jr. Roadrunners 18U, making it to the Div. III Arizona State Championship his senior season.
Gicewicz started this year with the Pueblo Bulls in Colorado, and then came to the Quake in November. In his travel bag he brought sticks, pads and gloves, yet only one winter coat.
“I probably should’ve brought more coats before I got here,” he said. “It’s kind of a nice adjustment though, constant heat kind of gets boring after a while.”
He scored his first goal early in the third period of Yellowstone’s 5-3 win Saturday, putting the team up by four goals.
“Team made a play at the blue line and I just happened to put it on net,” he said. “Just grinding.”
But in both that game and the 5-4 win Friday, the team gave up late goals that allowed Butte to make it much closer than it should have been. On Friday, after taking a 5-2 lead with 4:31 remaining, the Cobras struck back with a desperate rally, scoring two quick goals over a 57-second span. Luckily Cody-local Hudgel Selk held tough in goal for the win, but it was a situation Oberlin found too close for comfort.
“At crucial times in games the team needs to put effort into managing the puck a little better,” Oberlin said. “Understanding the situation and understanding the position that OK, we’ve almost won this game, but it’s not over.”
The Quake gave up another pair of late goals Saturday but luckily had an ample amount of insurance thanks to Gicewicz’s score.
“We gave ourselves a scare in both games, it was too close,” Spencer Platt said. “The biggest thing we can take away is situational awareness.”
Selk once again got the start in goal, making 37 saves.
Rumpke notched another two-goal performance in the series finale, while Platt added two assists. Both those players spent last week practicing with the Bismarck Bobcats of the tier II NAHL league, Oberlin said, to get them exposure with playing a higher level of hockey.
“I think if I keep working on my weak spots I think I could make it at that level,” Platt said.
The Quake will return home this Friday with a weekend slate against Missoula (11-24-0). In order to solidify a playoff spot the team will need to take care of business now, as February brings games solely against the top-four teams in the Frontier Division.
“We’re doing our best to not look too far ahead and not look at the standings as much as possible,” Oberlin said.
Puck drop is 7:30 p.m. both nights at Riley Arena.