By Kevin Scott
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GILLETTE, Wyo., October 21, 2016 — The Gillette Wild (6-1-0-0) and the second-place Great Falls Americans (6-3-1-1) met for the first time this season tonight.
The third place Wild won five straight with two wins over the Glacier Nationals and Bozeman Ice Dogs and took one of two against the top-ranked Yellowstone (WY) Quake last weekend. Gillette, who have played four of their six games at home at the Spirit Hall Ice Arena), defeated the Quake 5-4 in a shootout last Friday before falling to them the following evening, 3-2.
Meanwhile, Great Falls finished 1-1 last weekend against the Missoula Jr. Bruins. Great Falls won their first four games then lost to Yellowstone twice including an overtime thriller and lost in a shootout to Bozeman to begin the season.
Riley Holwegner chipped in two goals and goalie Landon Anderson recorded 36 saves for the Gillette Wild, who out-lasted the Great Falls Americans 4-3, in a hard-fought battle between these two NA3HL rivals on Friday night in Wyoming. The crowd of 549 saw the Americans fall despite a hat trick by Tanner Congdon.
Tanner Congdon scored the first of his three goals during the first ten minutes of the opening period to give the Americans the lead first. Defenseman Danny O’Donnell received the assist on Congdon’s power play score. Jack Oberg scored the equalizer 86 seconds later for the Wild. Preston Fuller chipped in his first season assist for the home team. Great Falls committed two of the three first period penalties. Americans goaltender Nick Nast and Wild net-minder Landon Anderson allowed one puck to get past them and combined for 28 saves.
The Wyoming NA3HL hockey team out-scored the Montana-based Americans 2-0 during the second period. Jamestown, North Dakota product Nick Stockert scored for the eighth time this year thanks to teammate Riley Holwegner assistance. Forward Riley Holwegner scored the first of his two goals with 2:24 left before the second intermission. Stockert and Derrick Scoggins helped set up Gillette’s third scoring drive. Both teams combined for 51 shots-on-goal after two periods of action.
The Americans evened up the score at 3-3 midway through the final period. Tanner Congdon, hailing from Anchorage, Alaska, scored twice more on power plays after picking up the Americans only score during the first stanza. Tegan Harrington provided the assists on both third period goals. The host team regained the lead for good as Riley Holwegner’s tally with under seven minutes left put the Wild up 4-3.
A trio of players led the way for the Wild including Riley Holwegner (2 goals, 1 assist), Nick Stockert (1 goal, 2 assists), and goaltender Landon Anderson had 36 saves in 60 minutes. Great Falls received a hat trick from Tanner Congdon, who scored all the points for Great Falls including two key goals in the final period. Tegan Harrington produced two assists in the loss.
The Americans had two penalties in each of the periods accounting for 12 minutes of total penalty time. Gillette had eight penalties for 16 minutes. The Americans scored on half of their power plays (3-for-6) while the Wild could not capitalized on their four opportunities.
Each team utilized one goaltender throughout the hard-fought contest. Landon Anderson swatted away 36 of the 39 shots the Americans offense sent his way. Nick Nast ended with 31 assists for Great Falls as his record is now 3-3.
NEXT CONTEST: The second-place Great Falls Americans will have one more game in Gillette, Wyoming on Saturday, October 22nd against the Wild at 7:05PM from the Spirit Hall Ice Arena. The Americans will return to the Great Falls Ice Plex week on Friday, October 28th against the Helena Bighorns.