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Mezharaups late goal lifts Great Falls to victory over Missoula

Mezharaups late goal lifts Great Falls to victory over Missoula

By Kevin Scott

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MISSOULA, Mont., October 14, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans (6-1-1-1) and the Missoula Jr. Bruins (2-4-0-1) conducted their second meeting of the season on Friday night.

Last Friday, the second place Great Falls Americans blanked the fifth place Missoula Jr. Bruins in Missoula, 2-0. The game saw just six penalties and only two successful scoring opportunities. Matt Janke had both goals for Great Falls.

The Americans ran into a road block against the Bozeman Ice Dogs on Saturday night. They held a three-goal lead before surrendering three goals to the Ice Dogs that forced an overtime. When neither team capitalized in the extra period, Bozeman tallied two goals in the shootout for the win.

Latvia native Sandis Mezharaups scored two out of the three goals to send the Great Falls Americans to their sixth win in nine games with a 3-2 win over the Missoula Jr. Bruins on Friday night at the Glacier Ice Rink in Missoula, Montana.

The Bruins scored the lone goal of the first period. Russia native Misha Aknatov found the back of the net with help from teammates Trym Isaksen and Austin Azzinnaro. The power play score came midway through the period. Although Missoula had a one goal lead, Great Falls did out-shoot Missoula 13-6.

Great Falls took an additional ten shots while Missoula took eight shots during the scoreless middle period.

Sandis Mezharaups evened up the score at 1-1 as the Americans forward got the puck through Bruins goaltender Tanner Loucks at the 9:28 mark of the final period. Danny O’Donnell and Jesse Johnson were each credited with one assist apiece. Justin Barnes from Missoula put the home team back on top (2-1) 1:50 after the Americans tied up the contest. C.J.  Odlin added his first assist while Austin Azzinnaro recorded his second of the night. The Americans chipped in two more goals in the final seven minutes of action as Danny O’Donnell received his sixth goal of the season while Sandis Mezharaups put in the go-ahead power play score with 3:43 left in the contest. The Americans were able to hold the Bruins scoreless the rest of the way.

The 500 fans saw 11 total penalties resulting in 22 minutes of penalty time in a game that took 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Nick Nast was the game-winning goalie for Great Falls.  The Oxnard, California product allowed one goal in the first and third periods and finished with 22 saves. Tanner Loucks, who ended with the loss, stopped 31 of the 34 shots that the Americans offense sent his way.

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans and the Missoula Jr. Bruins return to Great Falls on Saturday, October 15th for their third meeting in two weeks. Action begins at the Great Falls ice Plex at 7:30PM.