The Helena Bighorns used home ice to their full advantage this weekend, besting the Yellowstone Quake 5-2 on both Friday and Saturday night in a two game set at the Helena Ice Arena. With each team netting a goal in the first period Friday night, the Bighorns started the second period with a goal by #12 Isaac Ellingson (Crosby, ND) just 2:51 into the period. The Bighorns would control the momentum for most of the second, adding two more goals by #18 Darren Donovan (Fairbanks, AK) and #2 William Wallace (Sunburst, MT) respectively, while holding the Quake to just 10 shots on net.
The Quake would start the third with a push, and was rewarded with a goal by Will Yates just 1:05 into the last frame. Helena then found themselves in penalty trouble, getting sent to the box 5 times in the last 15 minutes of the period. The ‘Horns penalty kill unit was up to the task however, sealing the win with a short-handed goal at the 10:12 mark of the third. Goalie Garret Dryden (St. Louis, MO) notched his second victory in as many weeks versus the Quake, stopping 41 of 43 shots.
Saturday’s game saw the Bighorns come out with sloppy play to start the game, however the Quake were equally lacking in execution and the Bighorns finished the first period with a 1-0 lead on a tally by Hlib Tkach (Kyiv, Ukraine) midway through the period. The second period saw both teams turn it around offensively, as Helena grabbed a 2-0 lead with a goal by #25 Abe Laggis (Rhinelander, WI) just 4:00 minutes in. Yellowstone would awaken from it’s offensive slumber just 41 seconds later on a goal by Spencer Platt, and would tie the game at 2-2 with a goal at 13:38 after a nice deflection from Ryan Lovelace that beat Helena’s Bailey Bradford high on the glove side. Helena would take the momentum into the second intermission however, as Conor Pequet (Rhinelander, WI) would capitalize on a turnover in the Yellowstone zone and blow one by Quake goalie Michael Allman with just under two minutes remaining in the period.
The third period saw back and forth action before Helena’s Ellingson tipped a shot past Allman to give the Bighorns a little breathing room. Bighorn forward Johnny Baird (Glendale, AZ) quelled any chance of a Quake comeback with a tally at 17:14 to give the Horns a 3 goal lead and complete the weekend sweep.
The two wins moved Helena into a 4-way tie for first in the division with 6 points, and improved the Bighorns record to 3-1. Helena will be on the road for their next two games, travelling to Missoula and Great Falls respectively next Friday and Saturday night. The Horns will return home on Friday, October 4 for a home and home series against the Bozeman Icedogs, then travelling to Bozeman on Saturday, October 5.