Bernhards goal gives the Americans their 30th victory of the season
By Kevin Scott
HELENA, Mont., February 19, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans (30-10-2) and the Helena Bighorns (21-18-0) met up before the Top Prospects Tournament break on Saturday, February 13th at the Helena Ice Arena.
Great Falls was able to hold on for a 2-1 win in that contest thanks to Connor Barta, who provided the go-ahead goal in the final period.
After having defeated the Bighorns in five of their six matchups, would they find a way to get their sixth victory and 30th win of the season?
They would but it almost went into overtime.
Ricards Bernhards, who played earlier this week on the NA3HL 18U Selects Black team at the Top Prospects Tournament in Michigan, scored the game-winning goal as time expired to lift the Great Falls Americans to a 3-2 win over the Helena Bighorns on Friday night in Helena, Montana.
Josh Larson provided the first points of the game for the Americans. His power play score six minutes into the first period was assisted by Tanner Congdon and Ricards Bernhards. Stevan Goran increased the lead to 2-0 with his goal with 14 seconds left before the first intermission. Jesse Johnson and Brendan Jester added the assists for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad.
The Bighorns cut into the Americans lead (2-1) during the second stanza. Blake Babineau got the puck past Americans goalie Lauren Massie to convert the power play score with help from Jay Forbes and Matt Blassic. Great Falls maintained a 27-17 advantage on shots after 40 minutes of action.
After the second intermission, it took Helena 83 seconds to tie the contest at 2-2. Gavin Lubin got into the scoring column for the Bighorns. After scoring the first points for Helena in the middle period, Blake Babineau registered his first assist while teammate Jay Forbes received his second.
The game remained tied and looked like there would be an overtime period but Americans leading scorer Ricards Bernhards scored the game-winning goal as the game clock wound down. Bernhards 25th goal of the season was set up by Josh Larson and Tanner Congdon, the team leader in assists.
There were nine minor penalties by the Americans resulting in 18 minutes in penalty time. The Bighorns committed six minors for 12 minutes.
On offense, the Americans took 39 shots while holding the host team to 32 for the game.
Great Falls went 1-for-6 on the power play. Helena had both of their goals scored via power play chances but couldn’t take advantage of their other seven chances.
Lauren Massie accumulated 30 saves as the net minder from Wasilla, Alaska now has 465 saves on the season in 21 appearances. Helena’s Adam Ranck finished with 36 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans face the Helena Bighorns at home on Saturday, February 20th starting at 7:30PM. This will be the final regular season meeting between these two rivals.