Ryan Parkhouse scored three straight goals in just about every scenario possible — shorthanded, then power play and another full strength — and added two assists as the Helena Bighorns rolled to a 6-1 win over Yellowstone on Friday night at the Helena Ice Arena.
Helena (9-0) equaled its start from last season when it went perfect before losing their 10th game of the season.
Bighorns head coach Scott Cunningham saw this game easily as a loss if not for a few breaks Helena’s way.
“We needed to compete. I thought (Yellowstone) competed, those guys are hardworking, they’re mean and nasty and I thought they pushed us around,” Cunningham said. “The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but we got lucky, we stole a win.”
One line that did find success was that of Parkhouse, Cody Hess and Nolan Grauer. The three players accounted for all six goals — Grauer and Hess assisted on Ryan Doner’s goal to start the game while Parkhouse assisted on Patrick Love’s score to end the game. Hess added the go-ahead goal in the first period.
“Our line clcked really well,” Parkhouse said. “We seem to find each other on the ice and it works out perfect.”
Still, Yellowstone (4-6) came out fast and furious, hoping to keep up with the team that beat them for the NorPac America West Division in last year’s playoffs.
After Doner’s goal to start the scoring 8:22 into the first period, Tyler Roberts evened it up on an assist from Andrew Lord 16:59 into the game.
The Bighorns outshot the competition 37-29, though the two teams had an even mark of 15-15 after the first period.
“I saw a team that got lucky,” Cunningham said of his own squad. “Very little effort, very little team support. Cody’s goalies had a rough night and we got pretty lucky.”
Quake starting goalie Ryan Thomas struggled in net, getting just 20 saves to five goals (.800) and after Parkhouse picked up his third goal of the game with just a little over six minutes left in the second period, Thomas was pulled in favor of Anthony Caruso. Caruso allowed one goal while picking up 11 saves. Helena’s Patrick Wenzell had 28 saves.
Parkhouse scored all three goals in a span of 12 minutes, 21 seconds.
His first was unassisted and came off the stick of a Quake defender.
“It was a little slip up and the puck came right to me,” Parkhouse said. “I thought I saw the goalie’s five-hole open, and I just went for it and the puck trickled in.”
Defenders Daniel Poulin and Zack Maxwell assisted on his second goal, but the third might have been the prettiest.
Grauer did much of the work on the play, skating the puck right by Thomas, drawing a pair of defenders with him. With the goalie also biting, Grauer passed backward to the stick of Parkhouse, who deked Thomas to his left and backhanded the puck into an almost empty net.
The Bighorns will likely have an extra week to pick up their game. They head to winless Butte tonight to face off with the Roughriders at 7:35 p.m.
“Our team came to play tonight, but their team came a little bit harder,” Parkhouse said. “They know we’ve got a target on our backs and they tried to take one from us in our home barn.”
HELENA 6, YELLOWSTONE 1
Yellowstone 1 0 0 — 1
Helena 2 3 1 — 6
First Period — 1, Helena, Ryan Doner (Nolan Grauer, Cody Hess), 8:22. 2, Yellowstone, Tyler Roberts (Andrew Lord), 16:59. 3, Helena, Hess (Ryan Parkhouse) 18:28. Penalties — Kyle Alexander, Hel (Crossing Red Line), 0:00; Michael Mackinnon, Yel (Hooking), 4:35; Trevor Tracy, Hel (Cross Checking), 19:27.
Second Period — 4, Helena, Parkhouse, 1:20 (sh). 5, Helena, Parkhouse (Daniel Poulin, Zack Maxwell), 10:26 (pp). 6, Helena, Parkhouse (Hess, Grauer), 13:41. Penalties — Patrick Love, Hel (Cross Checking), 9:36; Andreas Olofsson, Yel (Roughing, Unsportsmanlike Conduct), 9:36; Maxwell, Hel – (Cross Checking), 16:59.
Third Period — Helena, Love (Tracy, Parkhouse), 6:33. Penalties — Kevin Kassulat, Hel (Hooking), 6:51; John Baker, Yel (Cross Checking Major), 19:47.
Shots on goal — Yellowstone 15-8-6—29. Helena 15-13-9—37.
Power-play Opportunities — Yellowstone 0 of 4, Helena 1 of 3.
Goalies — Yellowstone, Ryan Thomas (25 shots-20 saves), Anthony Caruso (13:41 second, 12-11). Helena, Patrick Wenzell 29-28.
Referee—Roy Marino. Linesmen—Steffen Franschetti, Sam Allen.