The Gillette Wild Junior Hockey Tier III team opened up their 2nd season with a hard fought 4-3 win over the Yellowstone Quake in Cody on Friday night.
With the score tied at 3 with less than a minute remaining in the 3rd period after receiving a penalty the Wild created a 2-1 opportunity at the blue line and Tyler Johnson was able to bang home the game winning shorthanded goal with :42 seconds remaining in the game.
After giving up the game tying goal with just over 3 minutes remaining Head Coach and General Manager Tom Winkler said his guys never gave up, “Our guys didn't get down, we battled back and after an unfortunate penalty. Our penalty kill was outstanding that game and the guys created the scoring opportunity for (Tyler) Johnson.” Winkler added, “I thought the game was up and down and back and forth and I thought we played extremely well in certain areas and there were areas we need to continue to get better at.”
Gillette fell behind early 1-0, but then 1st period goals by Johnson and Trent Dillinger gave the Wild the lead, which they never relinquished as Boris Knyazev tallied the 3rd goal for Gillette.
Then on Saturday the Wild fell to the Quake 6-4 as Yellowstone jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after the 1st period. The Wild pulled to with 5-4 in the 3rd period on goals by Alex King, Knyazev and Steve Patafio, but it wouldn't be enough. Despite not coming away the 4 points Winkler had hoped for going into the weekend he was pleased with how well the Wild's special teams performed against the Quake, “I thought out special teams overall were much better than they were at this same point last year.”
The Wild are now getting set to open up their home schedule on Friday, October 12th at Spirit Hall against the Helena Bighorns at 7pm. Helena is 2-0 on the season after walloping Glacier 9-2 on Friday and 15-0 over Bozeman on Saturday and Winkler knows just how tough Helena is, “We know we've got a tough opponent coming to town. I've told (the Wild) that championships aren't won in October, but playoff berths can be lost if you don't get your act together right out of the gate.”
Coach Winkler knows that limiting Helena's opportunities will be key to success this weekend at home, “(The Bighorns) skate well, so we have to really limit their opportunities coming out of the neutral zone.” Winkler also added, “We can't let them gain speed from the top of the circles to their blueline. That's where a team like that is extremely dangerous.”
Both of this weekend's games have the puck dropping at 7pm at Spirit Hall at Cam-Plex.
For information on season tickets to the Gillette Wild go to http://gillettewildhockey.pointstreaksites.com/view/gillettewildhockey