By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., March 22, 2019 —During Game 1 of the NA3HL Frontier Division championship on Thursday night, the Helena Bighorns, who have battled Great Falls all season long for the top spot in the Division, led by a slim 4-3 margin after two periods before pulling out a 5-3 victory in the best-of-three series.
Jens Juliussen scored two goals, Ben Rinckey dished out two assists and goaltender Drew Scites stopped all 36 shots in the net as the #2 Great Falls Americans earned a 4-0 shutout victory over the #1 Helena Bighorns during Game 2 of the Frontier Division Finals on Friday night in front of a loud 1,260 spectators at the Great Falls Ice Plex. This game was the final home contest of the season and the home team put on a show for those in attendance.
The Great Falls Americans wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in front of the home crowd. Jens Juliussen took 25 seconds to give Great Falls a quick lead during the opening period of the final home game for Great Falls this season. His unassisted score came with 19:35 left in the period. Both teams battled hard but could not convert any goals for the rest of the period. Helena out-shot Great Falls 16-10.
The second scoring drive by Great Falls was set up by Ben Rinckey whose pass to Nick Torres was successful. Torres’ score was made with 12:30 remaining in the middle -period. Hendrik Robel lit up the lamp a few minutes later with help from Justin Ohnstad. Helena’s offense allowed ten shots by Great Falls and 26 after the first forty minutes. Helena’s 28 shots came up empty on the scoreboard despite many great attempts by the visiting squad.
As he did in the opening period, Jens Juliussen fired a shot that went through the Helena goaltender for the score during the first minute of the third frame. Juliussen, playing for the final time in front of the home fans at the Great Falls Ice Plex before he heads off to college, racked up his second goal of the contest 38 seconds into the period as Ben Rinckey collected his second assist. The offenses from both teams failed to get any more points the rest of the way.
Great Falls out-shot Helena 26-20 after giving up 16 first period shots. Each team garnered 36 shots apiece.
The top two teams in the Frontier Division combined for 15 infractions that resulted in 41 minutes of penalty time. A total of eight power play chances were unsuccessful.
Drew Scites earned his third win in five games for Great Falls in the 2019 NA3HL Playoffs this season as he delighted the rowdy home crowd by preventing all 36 shots from becoming goals. Helena netminders Carver Thompson and Alexander Rogers both saw playing time by combing for 32 saves with Thompson picking up the loss.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans and Helena Bighorns will battle for the final time this season on Saturday, March 23rd in Helena, Montana at 7:05PM with the winner making the trip to Illinois for the upcoming Fraser Cup National Tournament that will take place on March 27-31. The losing team will have to re-energize and get ready for next season.
The six-division winning squads (Central, Coastal, Frontier, South, Northeast and West Divisions) will then head to the 2019 Fraser Cup National Tournament held in Woodridge, Illinois on March 27-31. The national tournament includes two round-robin games for each team followed by two semifinals contests and the championship.
To view the 2019 Playoff format and the schedule for the 2019 Fraser Cup Championship tournament, please click here.
Additional Media Coverage: March 22, 2019: Great Falls Tribune: Winner-take-all Saturday night as Americans blank Helena in Game 2
Additional Media Coverage: March 22, 2019: 406 MT Sports: Great Falls Americans force third game with a shutout over Helena