CODY, Wyo. – Chris Rinaldi had a goal and an assist against his former team as the Helena Bighorns beat the Yellowstone Quake 4-1 in a NorPac hockey game on Saturday night.
Nolan Grauer also had a goal and an assist, while Taylor Laneville had two helpers for Helena (28-2, 56 points), which won its seventh straight game and stretched its lead over Missoula in the America West Division to 14 points.
Rinaldi, who played the last two seasons with Yellowstone before joining the Bighorns in November, opened the scoring less than four minutes into Saturday’s contest.
The Bighorns did not get the chance to face former teammate Nic Wackerly, as Alex Steidler played the entire game in goal and allowed four goals on 39 shots.
Helena’s Kameron Maxwell stopped 22 shots, barely missing his fourth shutout of the season when Michael Mackinnon scored on a power play with 15 seconds remaining.
Helena had a 15-4 shot advantage in the first period and scored on markers by Rinaldi and Michael Sullivan to take a 2-0 lead.
Grauer scored midway through the second and Ryan Parkhouse added his team-leading 27th goal of the season in the third.
Helena was 0 for 4 on the powerplay.
Yellowstone pushed the Bighorns to the limit in last spring’s NorPac playoffs before falling in a fifth and deciding game. But the Bighorns are 5-0 against Yellowstone this season, outscoring the Quake by a combined 34-8 margin.
Helena returns home to face Butte on Friday and Billings on Saturday.