Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 17, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (16-3-0-0) haven’t tasted defeat very often this season. Their two previous losses came from the Helena Bighorns and since their last loss to the Bighorns on October 18th they have racked up five straight wins.
The Missoula Jr. Bruins (10-9-0-0), tonight’s opponent, haven’t figured a way to defeat the Americans this season. Their closest contest was a 5-3 setback on October 20th. Great Falls has also scored five goals in each of the three contests as the second-place squad in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division has outscored the Bruins 15-4.
Misha Akatnov, the NA3HL’s new leader in goals scored as of last week, recorded two goals to lead the Missoula Jr. Bruins to a narrow 2-1 victory over the Great Falls Americans during NA3HL junior hockey action on Saturday night in Great Falls.
There haven’t been many times this season that Great Falls has trailed in a game. Missoula took the early lead with one goal coming with 12:11 on the clock to open the first stanza. Misha Akatnov, a forward from Tyumen, Russia, scored his 27th goal of the season as fellow Russian teammate Vadim Zubkov assisted. Last week, it was reported that Akatnov became the all-time leading scorer in NA3HL history with 110 goals. Great Falls offered up plenty of opportunities to get the biscuit in the basket but came up empty. Despite being down one goal, Great Falls took three more shots than Missoula (16-13) during the period.
The 658 spectators at the Great Falls Ice Plex witness a scoreless second period with Great Falls dominating 23-7 in the shots-on-goal category.
Midway through the final period of regulation, Great Falls’ Cody Dearing got the puck into the net with help from Matt Janke and Ben Rinckey. The goal with 10:33 left tied the contest at 1-1. Seven minutes later, the Missoula Jr. Bruins regained the lead (2-1) with a second goal by Misha Akatnov. The final three minutes, Great Falls was unable to find the back of the net.
The Americans put up 39 shots after two periods and finished the contest with 47. The Bruins managed 31 shots with 13 coming in the opening period.
The seven total power plays went unanswered by both teams. Great Falls had two minor penalties in each period that resulted in 12 minutes in the penalty box. Missoula’s two minor and one major penalty came with nine minutes of penalty time.
Texas native Evan Williams had one of his better performances of the season for Missoula by stopping 46 of the 47 shots that Great Falls unleashed on him. He picked up his fourth win in nine games. Drew Scites let Akatnov’s slapshot with three minutes remaining get by him to light up the lamp. His 29 saves gave him a season total of 305 but dropped his record to 9-2.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will stay at home over the Thanksgiving holiday with a two-game series with the Gillette (WY) Wild coming to the Great Falls Ice Plex on Friday, November 23rd and Saturday, November 24th. Game time is set for 7:30PM each evening.