Team falls in OT at Billings
The result may have been the same, but head coach Craig Furstenau was citing progress following a split of weekend action by the Yellowstone Quake hockey team last weekend. The Junior A team fell 5-4 in overtime at Billings before returning to Cody for a 5-1 win over Bozeman.
“We're not that far away,” Furstenau said following his team moving to 3-4 on the year. “We've seen everyone in the division now, and we're right there.”
That was evident in the team's first meeting with the Billings Bulls this season. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to overcome what Furstenau felt was some questionable officiating.
“Friday was a difficult situation,” the Quake head coach said. “We were on the short end of the officiating. We definitely did some things wrong, but we were up against two opponents.”
Nowhere was that situation more evident than in the waning minutes of regulation. After the two teams had alternated goals through the first 57 minutes, resulting in a 3-3 tie, Yellowstone's Tyler Torkelson knocked home a power play goal with just 2:07 remaining, giving the Quake their first lead of the night.
Within the next 30 seconds, the team was whistled for a pair of infractions.
“Neither penalty was legit,” Furstenau said of the calls. “But there we are, skating five on three. And when Billings pulls their goalie, it becomes a six-on-three situation.”
The inevitability of that math finally caught up with the Wyoming team as Billings slapped home the equalizing goal with 24 seconds remaining. It was the Bulls' only shot on goal of the third period. The Bulls went on to score the game-winner five minutes into extra time.
For the game, the Quake were cited for 17 infractions, resulting in 76 minutes of penalty time. The Bulls, by comparison, were whistled 10 times, serving 20 minutes of penalty time.
Torkelson, Michael Mackinnon and Andreas Olofsson scored the Quake's three other goals in the game. The score by Mackinnon gave him seven goals on the year.
Friday's game effects lingered into Saturdays game against Bozeman as NORPAC league officials suspended a pair of Quake players for the game against the Ice Dogs.
“We had a new defenseman come in from Detroit that morning —Chad Braun —and due to the suspensions, we actually had to use him that evening out on the ice,” said Furstenau. “It was an emergency sort of situation, but he went out there and did a really good job for us.”
Mathew Peddie and Olofsson each scored first-period goals to give the Quake a comfortable lead after the first 20 minutes. Bozeman cut into the margin a little more than three minutes into the second, but Tyler Roberts and Drew Parus each lit the lamp for the Cody-based team to make it 4-1.
Cody Farber's power-play goal for Yellowstone was the only score over the final 20 minutes. Quake goalkeeper Ryan Thomas turned away 26 of the 27 shots fired at him in goal.
“Top to bottom, it was a good game,” said Furstenau.
In addition to the arrival Braun, the Quake's defense received an additional boost of good news over the weekend as it was learned that defenseman Andrew Lord was returning to the squad. Lord, a NORPAC all-rookie selection last season, had been drafted by the fledgling Chicago Hitmen NAHL franchise in the spring, but was recently cut from the team's roster. The Quake wasted little time in grabbing a valued member of the previous year's team.
“The biggest thing for us is, with the addition of Chad and Andrew, it allows us to move some good skaters forward on the ice now,” said Furstenau. “We've got a lot of skill up front and those two guys will really help shore us up defensively. Our defense will improve and our forwards will improve.”
To make room on the roster for Braun and Lord, the Quake tendered a pair of players. Forward Matt Tackett, who had one goal this season for the Quake, was picked up by a Minnesota-based junior team. Forward Bobby LeBlanc was claimed by the Butte franchise.
The Yellowstone Quake return to action this weekend with a pair of road games. The team returns to Billings on Friday night before heading to Butte for a Saturday contest. The team's next home game takes place Oct. 30 when Billings comes to Cody's Riley Arena.