It’s playoff time.
It is the most exciting and also the most stressful time of the year for many hockey teams across America.
By Joe Bertolami
For the Yellowstone Quake, the NA3HL playoffs have been very successful so far. Last week, they closed out their first series with two big wins over the Bozeman Icedogs, outscoring them 17-3.
In their next series against the Great Falls Americans, they faced a much different test. The Americans beat Yellowstone twice during the regular season, both by three or more goals. With a 1-1 series forcing a third game, the Americans and Quake were tied 2-2 after three periods. Cosimo Yapello, a ’96 from Mahtomedi, Calif., scored his first goal of the playoffs. And what a time for it to come: the six-minute mark of the overtime.
That epic goal sent the Quake into the Silver Cup round robin playoffs. They also made good on their Frontier Division regular season title, representing the division in the Silver cup round robin for a second straight year.
While the Quake do possess skill and speed, it is not just their on-ice play that has made them such a successful team and a Silver Cup contender.
General manager and head coach Ryan Theros talked about how important chemistry and camaraderie has been on this team.
“Togetherness has been the biggest thing for this group. They are all at different players’ billet houses, they’re hiking together, and they have really gotten to know each other well,” said Theros.
This is a trait of the Quake that really makes them a threat to come away with the NA3HL Silver Cup title. They have already proved how talented they are as players, but the locker room being able to gel as well as it has already demonstrates how the team is in sync during the most important time of the season.
Although Yellowstone is all about having a team-first attitude, one of the main goals of junior hockey programs everywhere is to help players achieve their goal of playing college hockey.
Coach Theros has been very successful in doing so, especially with his ’96 players.
“Every ’96 on the team has gotten interest either from NCAA Division 3 schools or ACHA Division 1 schools,” added Theros.
Reed Kelly, a ’97, has been able to carry the team offensively through most of the season. After a regular season of 33 goals and 49 assists for 82 points, and he also had five points in five playoff games.
“Reed has really taken the league by storm this year. He has learned how to utilize his teammates and is a leader by example,” said Theros.
Spanish national Pablo Pantoja was the Quake’s leading goal-scorer in the first two playoff rounds, scoring five goals. With two goals and six assists, ’97 Max Meyer was the overall leading playoff scorer, earning at least one point in all five playoff games thus far.
Nick Ottenbacher has gone 4-1 in net, and the ’97 goalie was fourth in playoff save percentage with a .946 mark, making the Quake a tough team to beat.
It has been quite a season for the Yellowstone Quake, and what better way to cap off the season than earning a trip to the Silver Cup round robin. It was not an easy task, but the Quake’s speed, skill, and depth to go along with the brotherhood that they have created this season will make them a team to fear in Romeoville.
Yellowstone’s first of three round robin games is Wednesday, March 29. All Silver Cup games will take place at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, Ill., about 45 miles west of Chicago. All Silver Cup games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.com (subscription service).
Read past NA3HL articles in our archives: