NOTE: A Special Thanks to Ryan Connell (ABC/FOX Montana Sports Reporter) for providing the video

By Ryan Connell, ABC/FOX Montana Sports Reporter

October 20, 2021

GREAT FALLS – After spending the first 11 games and much of the first six weeks of the NA3HL season on the road, the Great Falls Americans will play in front of a home crowd for the first time on Friday night.

“It feels good to be back home,” said forward Jackson Henningsgard.

The path to playing home games this season for the Americans has come with a couple of hurdles. In late August when the first layer of ice was put down a leak was found. That leak turned into a massive overhaul of the cooling system, which left the Americans without a home rink. Thanks to the help of many people in the community, the rink was later restored and reopened just six weeks later.

“This could have been a real disaster,” added head coach Greg Sears. “But the people kind of rallied around to help us out and get us on the ice in October instead of in December or even January.”

While the rink was getting worked on, the Americans were still playing hockey; traveling from city to city across the NA3HL’s Frontier division. Not having a rink is one thing, but opening the season on an 11-game road trip is something else.

“The biggest challenge was just staying mentally tough,” said goalie Ben Winkler. “It was tough being on the road for two weeks at a time and not being able to practice in our hometown. We just kept focused because at the end of the day, we had a job to get done.”

“It was tough throughout that whole time, but I think a lot of adversity brought us closer together and I think it will make us stronger as a group in the long run,” added Henningsgard.

While the days of rink trouble and extended road trips are in the rearview mirror, the team has shifted all their attention to Friday’s home opener.

“It’s been long overdue, the boys have been waiting for it for about a month and a half now, so we’re just looking forward to getting on the ice on Friday and showing our hometown fans a good show,” said Winkler.

You can catch the Americans in action on Friday October 22nd, when they welcome the Butte Cobras to the Great Falls Ice Plex at 7:30 p.m.

Story Courtesy: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Great Falls Americans return to home ice (October 20, 2021)