The Yellowstone Quake hockey team had a tough opening weekend on the road, losing both its contests to the Missoula Junior Bruins.
Early season nerves and penalties were the themes of the two-game slate.
“It was just some first weekend jitters,” Jack Harris said. “Most of our nerves are now gone.”
In Friday’s 6-3 loss, the Quake took an early 1-0 lead on a goal from Keegan Ferguson. But in the second period the Bruins struck back with three consecutive goals.
Brandon Kididis and Harris added goals in the third, but a Missoula open net goal with less than a minute remaining finished off the game.
On Saturday, the Quake fell 5-3, racking up 67 penalty minutes.
“We had a lot, that’s something we need to work on,” coach Phil Oberlin said. “We can’t consistently take as many penalties as we did and hope to win games.”
Most significantly, Logan Brown was ejected for fighting late in the second, receiving a 20-minute penalty for that and another 20 minutes for removing another player’s helmet.
Just like Friday, the Quake scored the first goal of the night on Saturday, but then the offense went cold. They pulled within 3-2 by the end of the second, but two straight Missoula goals put the game out of reach.
Cade Rosansky had a goal and an assist while Kididis got his second score of the weekend.
“That’s what they recruited me to do,” Kididis said. “I’m looking to lead the team in goals if not somewhere else along the points production.”
Kididis comes to the Quake from Columbus, Ohio, where he said the style of play is quicker but less “chippy.” He finds the style of hockey here fits him better, as he led his previous team in goals and hits.
There were a few bright spots Oberlin could point to from the weekend. Both games were close and he said he was pleased with the team’s cohesion so early in the season. Yellowstone got goals from three different lines in Friday’s loss.
“For the first weekend, there were some positives we can take away and some things we can work on,” Oberlin said. “Still working the kinks out.”
Quake goalie Hudgel Selk turned away 43 of the 48 shots he faced on Saturday and delivered a shutout in the first period Friday.
“He was really good,” Oberlin said. “We could’ve been much worse off after that first period on Friday night – he made some great saves.”
Although the Quake did score two of their three goals on the power play Saturday night, they were not able to take advantage of any of the four 5-on-3 opportunities they got over the weekend.
Yellowstone (0-2) will try to reverse its fortunes against the Gillette Wild (2-0) at home this weekend. Home opening ceremonies will be held on Friday, including a puck drop from Cody Mayor Matt Hall. Both Friday and Saturday games will start at 7:30 p.m. with a 375-person cap on attendance due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“(Fans have) got to be loud,” Kididis said with a smile.