By Kevin Scott
GENEVA, IL., March 19, 2015 — The Great Falls Americans came into their first appearance at the 2015 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament on Thursday afternoon as the third seed in the six team tournament. Only two other teams, the Nashville Jr. Predators and the back-to-back defending NA3HL Silver Cup champion (2013, 2014), the North Iowa Bulls were ranked higher in this prestigious round robin tournament.
The Americans, under the direction of coach Jeff Heimel, finished as the regular season champions out of the Frontier Division with a 34-10-3 record and needed just two games apiece in the Frontier playoffs to defeat the Billings Bulls and the Helena Bighorns to advance to this tournament.
The Americans will play with the four other divisional winners plus a Silver Cup Wildcard entry. Each team is guaranteed to play once each of the first three days with the fourth day designated as the Championship game. The top two teams with the best record in pool play will play in the title contest with both teams advancing to next week’s 2015 USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships in Simsbury, Connecticut.
- Pool A: #1 Nashville Jr. Predators, #4 Metro Jets, #6 Granite City Lumberjacks (Wild Card selection)
- Pool B: #2 North Iowa Bulls, #3 Great Falls Americans, #5 West Michigan Wolves
Great Falls’ first opponent is the fifth-seeded West Michigan Wolves, located out of Battle Creek, Michigan. The Central Divisional champions finished the regular season with a 31-15-1 record and defeated the Peoria Mustangs and the Wisconsin Whalers in three games apiece in the playoffs to get a berth in this tournament.
The Great Falls Americans (38-11-3) tried to make a comeback after being down by three goals but the West Michigan Wolves prevailed 3-1 on the first day of the NA3HL Silver Cup Hockey Tournament in Geneva, Illinois on Thursday night.
The Great Falls defense could not stop West Michigan forward Michael Tratar from scoring during the first period. His two goals put the Michigan NA3HL franchise in the lead 2-0 after the first period. Tratar’s first tally happened six minutes into the opening period off a pass from Corey Siwula and his final points came off a dish from Devin Farkas and Siwula with 39 seconds remaining. The Wolves two goals were the only shots of the period for either team.
The Wolves set up their third goal within the first 10 seconds of the middle period. Michael Tratar and Dakota Ulmer took advantage of the power play and found Devin Farkas for the score over Americans goaltender Jordan Moran to increase West Michigan’s lead to 3-0. Great Falls’ Miles Giorgione netted the first and only power play goal for the Americans four minutes later with help from Reed Link to cut the deficit to two points. Zack Mese also picked up an assist on the Americans scoring drive.
Both teams combined for 40 shots in the third period but neither team was able to register any points.
West Michigan took 32 shots with 21 of them coming in the final stanza while Great Falls got all 29 shots in the second and third periods of action.
Great Falls and West Michigan did not rack many penalties in their first game of the tournament. The Wolves recorded one penalty in each period for a total of six minutes while the Americans lone two minute penalty came from Wade Wylie for hooking in the final period.
Goaltender Hunter Vorva picked up the win for West Michigan by blocking 28 of the 29 shot that he encountered by the Americans offense. Jordan Moran added 29 saves to his season total of 274 for the Americans.
In the other pool play action from the Silver Cup, No. 1 Nashville Jr. Predators (1-0) received a scare when the #4 Metro Jets (0-1) sent the game into two overtimes before the Predators escaped with a 3-2 victory. In the nightcap, the North Iowa Bulls (1-0) led 5-0 before the Granite City Lumberjacks (0-1) got on scoreboard in the middle period and the defending Silver Cup champs posted a 7-4 victory.
NEXT CONTEST: The #3 Great Falls Americans (0-1) will challenge the #4 Metro Jets (0-1) in their second game on Friday afternoon at 12:00PM (MST) at the 2015 NA3HL Silver Cup Hockey Tournament at the Fox Valley Ice Garden in Geneva, Illinois. For more information about NA3HL Championship Tournament, please click here.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – 1, West Michigan, Michael Tratar (Corey Siwula), 6:19. 2, West Michigan, Michael Tratar (Devin Farkas, Corey Siwula), 19:21.
Second Period – 3, West Michigan, Devin Farkas (Michael Tratar, Dakota Ulmer), 0:10. 4, Great Falls, Miles Giorgione (power play) (Reed Link, Zack Mese), 4:26.
Third Period – NO SCORING
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 29, West Michigan 32.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 1-for-3, West Michigan 0-for-1.
Attendance – Not Announced
Additional Media Coverage: March 20, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Americans fall in opener at Silver Cup