The Yellowstone Quake is parting ways with coach Phil Oberlin following the completion of this season. Quake board members said his contract will not be extended in a press release late Tuesday.
“As a board, we have nothing but great things to say about coach Oberlin and we appreciate everything he has done for our organization and community,” the release said. “We are proud to have had him representing our organization over the last three years, but have decided that we needed to make a change for the upcoming 2021-22 season. The decision was based strictly off of what the board feels is in the best interest of the program moving forward.”
Quake President Chris Hatfield said in an email she had been receiving questions about the 2021-22 season and was made aware of rumors circulating about Oberlin’s contract not being extended.
“(I) would rather have waited until the season was over and let the boys concentrate on their season, however if people are talking I’d rather have them know that we are on a good page with the coach and this is not a bad split,” she said.
Oberlin has been coach of the Quake since April 2018. He has compiled a 32-82-5 record in his two-and-a-half seasons at the helm.
“I want to thank the Yellowstone Quake organization for the opportunity they gave me to begin my junior hockey coaching career,” Oberlin said in the release. “I wish the program continued success into the future and I am proud to have been a part of the great tradition that the Yellowstone Quake represent in the hockey community.”
Despite the team coming off three straight winning seasons, Oberlin took over with an almost entirely new cast of players. After a rough first season, Oberlin showed progress in his second season, leading the team to a second half turnaround and a first round sweep in the playoffs before the remainder of the postseason was cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus.
This season, the team has posting an 8-17-1 record through last weekend.
“It was sad to hear as I enjoyed playing under Phil for all three of his seasons as the Quake head coach,” Quake player Jack Harris said. “I was able to learn and grow as a player and leader under his guidance and I am greatly appreciative of all he has done for the Quake.”
Oberlin will continue coaching the team through the end of the season and there will be a, “good working relationship between the board and coach Oberlin for the remainder,” the release said.
Hatfield said the organization “would love” to be a reference for him in his career and he will be welcomed at alumni events.
She said no replacement coach has been hired yet but the organization is preparing to post the job opening this week. It is the board’s hope to have a new coach selected by the end of the season.
The last Quake coaching transition didn’t go smoothly.
After the Quake announced then-coach Ryan Theros had resigned following the completion of the season, Theros disputed those claims to the Enterprise and said Oberlin had been hired and was actively recruiting, before he was informed he would not be brought back.
Quake player Cade Rosansky said the timing for announcing Oberlin’s departure made sense despite the season not yet completed.
“Normally teams will announce if the coach is coming back this time of year,” Rosansky said. “It gives them time to find someone new and they don’t want to put the coach in a bad position right at the end of the season.”
He said the players were informed of the news on Sunday.
“I really like Phil and I can say he has benefited each of us, even if the seasons don’t reflect that,” Rosansky said.
A handful of Quake players Oberlin coached earned higher- level junior hockey and college playing opportunities.
Rosansky said Oberlin was the only junior hockey coach who gave him a playing offer. It paid off. Rosansky has scored 18 goals and 46 assists over his two seasons.
“It’s sad to see him go,” Rosansky said. “It’s not our decision and I respect the decision. He’s not a bad coach and I’m sure he’ll land on his feet.”