Aboard a pair of rock solid goaltending efforts, the Gillette Wild managed to ride their way to a series sweep over the Yellowstone Quake this past weekend at Spirit Hall Ice Arena

Aboard a pair of rock solid goaltending efforts, the Gillette Wild managed to ride their way to a series sweep over the Yellowstone Quake this past weekend at Spirit Hall Ice Arena. Gillette took game one 4-3 in OT on Friday, before finishing things off with a 2-1 victory Saturday night. With the pair of victories the Wild maintain their one point lead over Granite City atop the league standings, and extended their lead in the Frontier Division to eight points.
“It’s awesome that any single one of our goalies are capable of stealing games,” Gillette Wild Head Coach Ethan Hayes said. “They definitely were a huge part of keeping us in the games. I’m extremely happy to have all of our goalies on board with us. Every single one of the guys on the team trusts them.”
The Gillette goaltending pair of Cole Wheaton and Dominic Hite would each pick up wins. Wheaton gave up three goals, two in the first period and another in the second of the game Friday night, before slamming the door over the game’s final 30 minutes. Hite was solid throughout his start on Saturday stopping 19-of-20 shots he faced.
Friday night Gillette would jump out front early with newcomer Avery McMahon scoring his first goal in his first action for the Wild. Yellowstone would answer with the next two goals and led 2-1 after the first.
Wild forward Sky Solig would draw Gillette even early in the second, before a late second period goal from the Quake would again put them out front.
Gillette would tie the game six minutes into the third period on a goal from Anthony Foster. The game went scoreless from their sending things into overtime.
Late in the extra frame, Wheaton would shut down a Quake two-on-one break away stopping a Yellowstone defenseman Owen Schoonover wrist shot with his right leg pad.
“Wheaton is a warrior,” Hayes said. “He is a competitor and obviously doesn’t like to lose. He is a lot more vocal than the other goalies, and shows more emotion, and I think that his mental toughness is uncontested. When the big moments come around, I’m always comfortable, and I think the guys are always comfortable when Wheaton is in the net.”
Less than a minute after Wheaton’s big save, Wild defenseman Josef Lalli would win an offensive zone battle for the puck sending a soft pass off the boards to forward Saizha Norwegian, who gathered the puck and sent a pass straight to the tape of a waiting Sky Solig. Solig immediately fired a shot past the stick of a stretching Yellowstone defenseman and over the glove of Quake goalie Edvin Falkenstrom finding the back of the net securing the win.
Saturday night fans were treated to a tighter defensive battle as both squads struggled to find offense.
The lone goal Hite surrendered followed a Gillette turnover in their defensive zone. Yellowstone forwarded Zac Orwig was the recipient of said turnover with the puck finding his stick just out front of the Gillette goal. Orwig would score on a shot over Wild defenseman Wyatt Schmitz, who had worked back on the play laying out on the ice, and past the right blocker pad of Hite.
Hite showed no frustration in a moment where a netminder could of taken issue with the mistake made in front of his net.
“The way Hite reacted to that mistake was extremely mature. My guys are not able to come down on each other hard and throw a fit and yell if somebody makes a mistake,” Hayes said. “Whether it’s a lazy mistake or somebody makes a mistake working hard, it doesn’t matter. We are a family. We succeed together, and we fail together. One guy makes a mistake it’s on all of us to make it better.”
Gillette forward JP Johnson would tally the game winning goal with just over a minute to play in the third period. The Wild were working on the power play when Wylee Gladen would send a pass to Isaac Young, who was waiting at the top of the zone. Young fired the puck on net where Johnson was waiting to redirect the puck past Quake goaltender John Hughes.
In the aftermath of the late go ahead goal Gillette was given a minor unsportsmanlike penalty finding themselves needing to kill off a Quake power play over the final 1:18 of regulation. Hite would stop both shots he faced over the game’s final moments, including a point blank chance for Yellowstone forward Ben Carlson, who took a pass flying through the neutral zone and was able to beat the Wild defense to the net. Carlson would fire a backhand shot from about six feet just to the left of Hite, who turned away his 19th save of the night in sealing the Gillette victory.
“Hite is going to be a phenominal goalie,” Hayes said. “He is an ’04 and extremely young, and only going to get better from where he is at now. I am really excited about Dom’s future.”
Gillette will now load the bus and head east to play five games in six days against four teams that all sit atop their respective divisions in the NA3HL. More on that in the days to come.