Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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SHERIDAN, Wyo., October 5, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (5-2-0-0) found out on Friday night when they faced the newest member of the North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) Frontier Division, the Sheridan Hawks (4-4-0-0) in Wyoming how tough a first-year opponent could be.
During Friday’s action, Great Falls found themselves down 2-1 to the new NA3HL franchise after the first period and then Sheridan held the Americans scoreless the rest of the way while adding three of their four goals in the middle period to post a 6-1 rout over the visiting team from Montana.
Currently in the NA3HL Frontier Division standings, Great Falls is in third place behind the Bozeman Ice Dogs and Gillette (WY) Wild and the Sheridan Hawks moved up a spot with Friday’s victory to fourth place.
The Americans were hoping to rebound and bounce back with a win on Saturday night on the road.
The Great Falls Americans rebounded from Friday’s five-goal defeat by scoring four goals in the final two periods to shutout the Sheridan Hawks, 4-0 during Saturday’s NA3HL action on the ice in Sheridan, Wyoming. Great Falls has now won five out of their seven starts this season.
Both offenses combined for 15 shots-on-goal but came up empty on the scoreboard as the first period came and went with no goals.
The scoreless tie ended 28 minutes after the start of the game when Brody Boyce got the puck through Sheridan goaltender Zach Hearn for the first goal late in the middle stanza. Jake Hayes and Jack Olson registered the assists. Two minutes later, the Americans lit up the lamp for the two-goal lead. Great Falls took advantage of the power play opportunity given to them by the Hawks as Levi Mese garnered his fourth assist of the season with his successful pass to Hendrik Robel midway through the period. Robel’s first goal this season came with 9:35 remaining. Both squads skated the rest of the way without capitalizing on any scoring opportunities.
Two more goals were created by the visiting team in the final period. Jake Hayes accumulated his sixth goal with help from Jack Olson (seventh assist) and Logan Rachow (third assist) 5:46 into the third for the short-handed score. Coach Greg Sears’ squad added the final tally with 19 seconds remaining in the contest. Logan Rachow, the defenseman from Eagle River, Alaska, waited until the end of the seventh game of the season to produce his first goal as a Great Falls American. Levi Mese and Hendrik Robel, two returning players from last season’s playoff bound team, earned the assists on the empty net score. Sheridan suffered their first shutout loss of the season.
The winning squad was called for six infractions with 12 minutes spent in the penalty box and they went 1-for-4 on the power play. A night after defeating Great Falls 6-1, the Hawks were assessed four minor penalties with eight minutes spent in the sin bin. The host team squandered away six power play chances in their fourth loss of the season.
Trever Mellen picked up his second win for Great Falls. The Minnesota goaltender prevented all 43 shots from hitting the back of the net. Zach Hearn (4-4 record) started again for the Hawks and recorded 32 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will return to the Great Falls Ice Plex to renew their hockey rivalry with the Helena Bighorns on Friday (October 11th) and Saturday (October 12th). The puck drops each night at 7:30PM. Great Falls bested Helena on September 28th in Great Falls, 5-2 in their first meeting. HockeyTV will once again provide the streaming coverage with the “Voice of the Americans” Jeremy Williamson on the call.