Quake Hockey Finding their Groove
Written by Cole Havens on December 2, 2020
With two months of hockey in the books and the month of December here the Frontier Division is starting to take shape. Great Falls and Sheridan lead the way with a combined 22 wins and three losses. Missoula and Bozeman sit right behind them with nine wins each. The Yellowstone Quake are sixth in the division with a 5-9 overall record and have just five games on the schedule for this month. Last weekend the Quake’s games vs. Helena were can canceled so when they hit the ice this weekend it’ll be the first time they’ve played in two weeks. I caught up with Head Coach Phil Oberlin and he details what practice has been like recently.
“So we had some fun on Thanksgiving morning. Played some 3-on-3. Optional day Friday. If guys were banged up they took the weekend, three days off. Most of the guys showed up Friday to skate and have some fun. Two days off at this point in the year isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The last two days we’ve been at practice, it’s looked good, there hasn’t been a whole lot of rust from having a couple days off. So I think the guys should be ready for this weekend. There’s not really an excuse not to be.”
Coming off a pair of wins vs. Butte to end the month of November, could the Quake’s luck finally be turning? Coach Oberlin liked what he saw in November and says the skies the limit.
“So we’re trending in the right direction, just like last year when we did it. I’m starting to see a lot of things click, in terms of our defensive zone and offensive zone. So we’re starting to play with a little bit more speed, a little bit more confidence in our ability and our systems. So guys are starting to really buy in to what we need to do as a group. That’s where you start to see the results come in. So I think it’s only going to continue to get better. I think everything is starting to click and starting to move forward with it.”
The month of December will see some stiff competition for the Quake as they take on second place Sheridan this weekend and then next weekend face the team just above them in the standings. Coach on what he wants to see from the team this month.
“Just making sure we that we finish the first half on a high note. Especially against a team that’s right above us that we can make-up ground against. Then Sheridan, they’re putting up big numbers. So it really is just playing the right way and making sure that we’re taking care of our job and what we need to do, to have success against them.”
Coach calls Sheridan the best skilled team in the Frontier Division and lays out what the the Quake must do to come away victorious this weekend.
“We want to really try to force their defense-men to beat us on the rush. We want to try to keep the puck out of their forwards hands as much as possible, especially coming up the ice. If we can break the puck out relatively clean and we don’t allow them to get sustained pressure in our defensive zone. Their defense are pretty active in the offensive zone. Their forwards are super creative in the offensive zone. They’re constantly moving, they’re constantly battling for pucks and races. So if we can keep from getting pinned in the defensive zone, I think we’ll have success. If we force their defense-men to play a big part of their offense, then we might be able to slow their forwards down a little bit if we can take the puck out of their hands.”
The Yellowstone Quake will face-off against Sheridan this weekend for a pair of contests. Puck drops at 7:30pm Friday and Saturday night.