By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 18, 2015 — After a successful first season competing in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) last season, the NA3HL Frontier Division champion, Great Falls Americans opened up their 2015-16 season against a familiar foe in the Glacier Nationals on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
Great Falls welcomed back many returners from last season’s squad including goaltender Lauren Massie, forwards Josh Larson, Austin Krantz, Malachi Bushey, Brendan Jester and Adam Apangalook and defensemen Arseny Ivanov, Blake Miller, Hunter Garris, Reed Link, Miles Giorgione and Great Falls native Connor Barta.
The Great Falls franchise, under the direction of head coach Jeff Heimel, scored multiple points in each period to post a 12-1 victory against the Havre, Montana based squad in front of 702 spectators for the season opener.
Josh Larson scored the first of six first period goals with his score coming during the first four minutes of action to give Great Falls a one goal advantage. Other Americans putting points on the board during the first twenty minutes of action include Jesse Johnson, Tegan Harrington, Ricards Bernhards, Brendan Jester and Malachi Bushey. Adam Apangalook, Arseny Ivanov Reed Link, Austin Krantz and Harrington chipped in the assists. Great Falls registered 25 of the 33 total shots on goal during the opening stanza. Americans goaltender Lauren Massie stopped all eight of his shots he faced against the Glacier offense.
Jesse Johnson scored his second goal of the night and gave Great Falls a commanding 7-0 lead as Colton Fletcher and Josh Larson each assisted on the short-handed play. A few minutes after the Johnson scoring opportunity, Steve Goran added the home team’s eighth points with help from Tegan Harrington and Reed Link. Before the end of the second period, Colton Fletcher tacked on his first goal with 8:02 on the clock. Josh Larson picked up his second assist as the Great Falls offense lit up the scoreboard for the ninth time. Brendan Jester put up the final points of the period as he scored off the stick of Colton Fletcher with 1:12 before the second intermission. Great Falls out-shot the Nationals 14-8 during their four goal middle period and held a 39-16 advantage in the shots-on-goal category.
Great Falls would add on two more goals before the Glacier offense got on the scoreboard during the final period of action on opening night for both teams. Brendan Jester registered his third goal of the evening and Adam Apangalook tallied his first midway through the period. Tegan Harrington earned his third assist and Austin Krantz contributed his second assist on the Jester scoring play. Glacier would avoid the shutout as Tanner Poker’s power play goal against American goaltender Lauren Massie with 1:37 to play gave the visiting team their first points of the season. Collin Schieman and Ronald Robertson secured the assists.
Lauren Massie picked up right where he left off last season as he stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced in 60 minutes. Glacier utilized both of their goalies despite the setback. Austin, Texas native Mikhail Pahrebets added 29 saves during the first and second periods before being replaced by Ryall Purdy finished with 15. Each team added one power play goal on the night.
The Americans held the Nationals to just 21 shots on the night while they recorded 56 including 25 in the first stanza.
The NA3HL contest saw just 14 penalties for 28 minutes.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans have two games next week in Cody, WY against the Yellowstone Quake on Friday and Saturday, September 25-26th. The first road trip of the season begins at 7:30PM each night at the Victor J. Riley Arena. Great Falls returns to the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday, October 3rd for a showdown with the Billings Bulls.
Additional Media Coverage: September 17, 2015: ABC/FOX Montana: Great Falls Americans excited to keep success going in 2015
Additional Media Coverage: September 18, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Junior A Hockey: Great Falls Americans open up season
Additional Media Coverage: September 24, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Americans impressive in season opener