The Yellowstone Quake beat the Gillette Wild 6-3 on Saturday behind two goals from Jack Luttringer. Keegan Ferguson chipped in a goal and two assists.
Yellowstone (11-22-1) was able to quell a Wild (18-13-1) rally and score three unanswered goals to finish the game in the third.
“I thought the guys played with a ton of character,” coach Phil Oberlin said.
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Gillette responded with three straight goals to make it 3-3 entering the third.
Just 1:04 into the final period, Luttringer gave the Quake a lead they would not relinquish on a Ferguson assist. Dylan Rumpke and Ferguson then added goals of their own to clinch the win.
Matt Schoer made 38 saves in net for the Quake.
After being badly outshot on Friday, the Quake won the shot battle 42-41 on Saturday.
The Quake took a 2-0 lead after the first and then kept rolling to start the second with a goal from Austin Lawless at 19:16.
But for the rest of the period their offense waned and Gillette capitalized to tie it up.
“They’re playing for pride and I think that showed in their effort on Saturday night,” Oberlin said. “They responded well and played through some adversity, giving up the lead but getting it back in the third period.”
On Friday, Yellowstone officially had its playoff hopes dashed, falling 4-0 to the Wild.
“It kind of stings we got eliminated,” goalie Connor Carroll said.
Yellowstone needed a weekend sweep in order to keep their postseason chances alive.
Despite getting fast breaks and point-blank looks on net all night the Quake could not convert.
“We got some untimely puck bounces,” Aiden Croce said. “The chances were there.”
Carroll kept his team in it, making 56 saves.
“I just helped the team as good as I could,” he said.
Ethan Becker got the Wild started at 6:33 in the first period off a wrist shot from the boards.
With 53.9 seconds left in the period Gillette scored again when the puck bounced off Cole Whitman’s skate on a fastbreak for a Quake own-goal.
“That should never happen,” assistant coach Patrick Oberlin said.
Despite the team only being down by two goals, their body language spoke volumes skating off the ice into the first intermission.
“They just had no energy,” Patrick Oberlin said. “You could see it on their faces.”
Although the Quake got three different one-on-one fast breaks through the first two periods, they still could not convert for a score.
After the Wild scored 29 seconds into the second, Carroll was stellar for the remainder of the period, turning away 24 shots.
The game got a bit scrappy in the second with the Quake earning 31 penalty minutes in that frame alone. Will Sobaski earned the majority of this time from a five-minute major for cross checking and a 20-minute game misconduct for cross checking, earning him an ejection.
Yellowstone got plenty of good looks on net in the third but could not convert.
Mason Hoffman added another goal for Gillette at 6:50 on a fast break backhand.
The Wild outshot the Quake 60-19.
Yellowstone will get a rematch with the Wild next weekend but this time on the road.
Carroll said although the team has been eliminated from the playoffs, it still has plenty to play for. Although the team has been mathematically eliminated from the postseason, they could still climb as high as fifth in the Frontier division before season’s end.
“We just need to work as hard as possible and get ready for next season,” he said.
Croce also said the team can now play the role of “spoiler” by eliminating other teams from the playoffs like the Wild. On March 5-6 the Quake will play Sheridan, a team now riding a 28-game win streak. Despite this, the Quake took them to overtime when they played Jan. 23.
“We can break their mojo,” Croce said.