Americans remain perfect in January by edging Gillette, 3-1
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 21, 2017 — The second-ranked Great Falls Americans (27-3-2-3) have a record of 4-1-0-1 against the third-ranked Gillette Wild (24-9-1-0) after posting a 2-1 victory over the Wyoming team on Friday night in Great Falls.
Tegan Harrington and newly-acquired forward Ricards Bernhards each recorded one goal apiece in the win on Friday. Great Falls held Gillette to one goal in the second period while neither team found a way to get the puck in the net in the final period of play.
The Americans, who won for the sixth time in January, have already clinched a playoff spot after Friday evening’s victory along with the Gillette Wild, Yellowstone Quake, Missoula Jr. Bruins and Bozeman Ice Dogs.
The Great Falls Americans remain a perfect 7-0 in the month of January after picking up a 3-1 win over the visiting Gillette Wild during Saturday night’s junior hockey contest at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The 822 spectators witnessed the Americans win on home ice for the 16th time this season.
Ricards Bernhards and Malachi Bushey gave the home team a two-goal lead after the first period. Tanner Congdon and Payton McSharry each earned an assist on Bernhard’s tally while Tegan Harrington and Brendan Jester set up the second goal by Bushey. Both scoring opportunities came with under six minutes to go in the period. Great Falls attempted 12 shots against Gillette goaltender Landon Anderson while the visitors from Wyoming recorded eight.
The Americans extended their lead (3-0) during the middle period with one goal made by Payton McSharry at the 5:23 mark. Ricards Bernhards picked up his first assist in Americans uniform this season while team leader Danny O’Donnell chipped in his 35th assist. Despite trailing to the Americans by three goals, Gillette took 17 shots in the period and held a 25-19 shots-on-goal advantage after the second period. Robbie Brennan took over for starting Gillette goaltender Landon Anderson after he gave up three goals late in the second period.
The visiting team took 48 minutes before they could get the puck between the pipes in the final period of regulation. South Dakota native Brooks Mitzel dish to forward Cade Boreing for the score with 11:58 on the clock that denied the Americans their 11th shutout of the season. The Wild pulled their goalie with 58 seconds remaining but their effort didn’t provide any points.
The six power play chances failed to produce any points for either team. Great Falls spent eight minutes in the penalty box on their four infractions. Gillette committed two minor penalties in the third period.
Gillette never led during the contest but did out-shoot the Americans in the last two periods (35-17) and ended the night with 43 shot attempts. Great Falls finished with 29 including 12 in the opening period.
Kyler Ayers picked up his second straight victory over the Wyoming NA3HL team by stopping 42 of the 43 shots. The Boise, Idaho goaltender had his tenth win of the season and his 42 saves gave him 226 at this point of the season. Gillette relied on both of their goaltenders. Starter Landon Anderson played 34 minutes and contributed 13 saves but allowed three before being replaced by Robbie Brennan in the middle period. Brennan also had 13 saves in 24 minutes in the net.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will be on the road to finish out the month of January when they head to Billings, Montana to challenge the Bulls on Friday, January 27th followed on Saturday (January 28th) with a game against the Bozeman Ice Dogs in Bozeman, Montana. Both games begin at 7:30PM each night.