The Gillette Wild hold their Military Appreciation Weekend on Friday and Saturday when they host the Yellowstone Quake.
Gillette will wear American flag and camouflage jerseys that feature the flag raising at Iwo Jima scene prominently on the front. They will be auctioned off during the weekend series and all proceeds will be donated to the Affiliates Motorcycle Club, a nonprofit that supports disabled veterans, Wild coach Steve Kruk said.
The Wild took two blowout victories last weekend when they outscored the Helena Bighorns 16-3 in two games. The wins come after six straight losses against the three leading teams in the Frontier Division.
“Our work week in practice was way better. I think we were focused on the details,” Kruk said. “The finer parts of our game, as far as getting pucks out, as far as being available, as far as going north right away, we did that all night, both nights against Helena.”
Wild forward Declan Young has been pacing the Wild this season, and last weekend was what he called his best performance of his hockey career. He tallied three goals in each game and finished with 12 total points.
Young averages more than two points per game and leads the Wild with 24 goals. The next highest scorer is Caleb Sanborn with eight. Kruk said that the Wild would be lucky to keep Young for this whole season because teams in the North American Hockey League, a Tier II league, have noticed him.
“It’s always the goal to move up as soon as possible,” saidYoung, a first-year junior hockey player with the Wild, a Tier III team. “I’ve made a lot friends along the way so it will be hard to move up, but that’s the ultimate goal.”
GIllete hosts Yellowstone (6-13-1), the team ranked one spot below the Wild in the standings at No. 5 and a team Kruk said is flying under the radar. The Quake dealt the Bozeman Icedogs their only loss of the season in late October.
Yellowstone is led by forward Dylan Rumpke, who has scored 15 goals and notched 16 assists this season. Quake goalie Michael Allman keeps his team in games with a 92.1 save percentage.
“Last couple of seasons they’ve been kind of in a rebuild, but I think one thing that’s really helped them is goaltending,” Wild forward Tyler Kaminski said. “It’s getting traffic in front of the net, getting the second and third opportunities and moving the puck.”
The Wild will play at 7:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Spirit Hall Ice Arena in Gillette. There will be a goalie helmet auction as well and an open skate with the Wild after Saturday’s game.