Quake Hockey On A Mission
Written by Cole Havens on September 15, 2020
The Yellowstone Quake are officially back on the ice for their first practice of 2020 tonight. The Quake are coming off a 2019 campaign that feels incomplete. They ended the season with a playoff sweep vs. Gillette and right before they were set to face-off with Bozeman the season was canceled. The Quake’s roster is set and features a great mix of veteran leadership and youth. Head Coach Phil Oberlin is back for his third year at the helm of Quake hockey and talks about the expectations for this year group.
“We feel extremely comfortable and we feel very confident in our ability this year. The philosophy isn’t’ going to change this year. You’re going to hear a lot of the same stuff as the first two years. Process based and kind of taking it week-by-week, practice-by-practice, game-by-game. This year we’re hoping to have a little bit of a better regular season. Ultimately, the end goal is still to put ourselves in that position to compete for a championship.”
Speaking of this year’s roster the Quake will be seeing a familiar face return to the Riley Arena as last year’s points leader, Dylan Rumpke returns to the Quake. With the addition of Dylan the Quake return their top three scorers from a year ago. Coach Oberlin on the luxury that provides.
“Obviously you want what’s best for him but you get a little excited when you can have a player of that caliber return to you for another year. Returning our top three scorers from last year is a pretty good offensive boost. The players that we’ve added to the roster as well and the other returners that were here last year, I think we’re going to score a lot more goals this year. I think we’re going to be a little bit more powerful offensively. Yeah, we’re excited about it.”
With everything that went down to end last year, this season the Quake are on a mission to finish what they started.
“That’s kind of the attitude that they’ve taken on. They’re here cause they want to win. The guys that have been here for three years now, the whole time I’ve been here. The first year was a struggle. They believed in what we were doing so they came back for a second year. Much more success the second year and then this year, they’re coming back and they are focused. They’re here to work, they’re here to win and that’s kind of their main goal.”
As for what the focus will be at practice early on, Coach Oberlin believes they’ll be able to pick up where they left off a year ago and hit the ground running. He says it will be a mix of conditioning, teaching and other things.
“We’re going to try to be as high tempo as we can this week. I’m kind of expecting them to be kind of shot out of a cannon that first practice especially. I think there’s going to be a lot of learning that goes on. I think we want to compete. This year we’ve got good numbers on the roster so they’ve got to compete for their spots. We want to be hard to play against in our defensive zones. So that’s a huge part of our team culture, is that we want to take care of our end first. Just getting kind of those systems down and just start to build some chemistry.”
Expectations will be elevated for a team that finished 4th in the Division a year ago and won a playoff series. With those expectations though Coach Oberlin remains realistic and says they must improve each day but says the fans could be in for something special.
“I think that they can be back at the top of the division again. By the end of the year I think we can end up taking home the regular season championship. While that’s going to be our goal, that’s not going to be our main focus. We’ll set those goals but again our main focus is for those guys to get better every single day and compete and again put ourselves in that position to compete for the ultimate goal which is the championship.”
The Yellowstone Quake open the season on the road October 2nd and 3rd at Missoula. The Quake’s home opener is October 9th and 10th hosting Gillette.