By Kevin Scott
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GILLETTE, Wyo., December 19, 2020 — The Great Falls Americans (14-5-0-0) were looking for their fourth victory in four games against the Gillette Wild (12-6-1-1) as both squads played their final game before the holiday break on Saturday night in Wyoming.
On Friday, Micah Serino scored two goals while Jake Hayes added a goal and dished out two assists as the Americans topped the Wild, 4-3 in the first game of their two-game series against Gillette.
Great Falls led 2-1 over Gillette late in the first period before allowing five unanswered scoring drives by the Wild as the Americans came up short in their quest for their 15th win of the season, falling 7-6. The Great Falls Americans finished the weekend series against the Gillette (WY) Wild with each team picking up a victory in the highly competitive North American 3 Hockey League’s (NA3HL) Frontier Division standings.
Great Falls slipped to second place with the loss while Gillette moved up a spot to third place in the standings. Meanwhile, the Sheridan (WY) Hawks (14-1-0-0), formerly in second place, moved up to the top spot in the Frontier Division by posting a 5-2 road win against the Helena Bighorns on Saturday evening at the Helena Ice Arena. Both Sheridan and Great Falls have 28 points while Gillette is not far behind with 26.
Just four minutes into the contest, Great Falls jumped out to an early lead as Micah Serino scored one of his two goals on the night with assistance from Bryson Fletcher and Jake Hayes. Gillette did not waste any time as nine seconds later, Gillette tied it with a score by Isaac Young, one of two goals by the Minnesota product. Declan Young and Caleb Sanborn assisted on the first tally for the Wild. Daniel Crutcher secured his second goal of the season in his first season with the Americans with three minutes remaining in the opening period. Newcomers Jay Alford and Ryder McMillen set up the play to give the visiting squad a 2-1 advantage. The host team bounced back and scored twice in a 2:26 frame as Isaac Young collected his second goal of the period and Declan Young, the top offensive player for Gillette, scored his 26th goal of the year to make it 3-2. Caleb Sanborn and Declan Young assisted for the second time in the first period while Isaac Young and Will Blake each received their first. The Wild held a 19-15 advantage in the shots-on-goal category.
The second stanza saw the same exact amount of scoring with Gillette scoring three goals and Great Falls chipping in two. Gillette’s offense amassed three goals in the first seven minutes to increase their lead over the Americans to 6-2. Caleb Sanborn, Tristan Baker, and Will Blake each answered with one goal apiece. The assists went to Isaac Young, Ethan Becker, George Stilson, Brock Trboyevich, Mitchell Vekich, and Zackary Bender. Coach Greg Sears’ squad closed out the middle period with two goals to pull within 6-4. Alex Jackson and Braedon Monroe each lit up the lamp with helpers from Henry Chavez, Bryson Fletcher, Alex Jackson, and Cole Komarek. The Wyoming club attempted 36 shots after two periods while Great Falls accrued 26.
The scoring was much quieter in the third frame with just three successful scoring drives. Declan Young of the Wild increased the lead to three (7-4) three minutes into the final period. Brock Trboyevich and Ethan Becker each registered their second assists of the night while Great Falls was in the penalty box. Gillette capitalized on all four of their power play opportunities in their home arena. Henry Chavez and Micah Serino tacked on the final two goals for Great Falls as the Americans comeback bid fell short. Tyler Lorring, Kellen Harris, Alex Jackson, and Jake Hayes set up the scoring drives.
The high scoring junior hockey contest featured 92 shots-on-goal with Great Falls finishing with 47 including 21 in the third stanza.
All five power play chances were successful with Gillette taking advantage on four of them. The NA3HL officials called 16 total penalties that resulted in 69 minutes of penalty time between these two squads.
Declan Young and Isaac Young each came away with four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and netminder Jack Orchard ended his night with 22 saves and improved his record to 2-0 after joining the team on December 2nd.
Alex Jackson accumulated three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and Micah Serino scored two goals just like he did the night before for the Americans. Ben Monsivais, who got his first start after joining the team on December 11th, stopped 16 of the 19 shots he faced. Backup Vincent Marroni was credited with the loss but not before ending the night with 22 saves in 37 minutes of action. The second-year player from Plymouth, Michigan is now 2-2 on the season.
NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 North American 3 Hockey League’s annual Showcase Tournament that featured each team competing against teams from the other divisions in front of many college and pro scouts, has been cancelled this year. The three-day tournament was scheduled for Sunday (December 20th) through Tuesday (December 22nd) in Blaine, Minnesota.
NEXT CONTEST: After the 11-day holiday break, the Great Falls Americans will be home for three consecutive games starting on New Year’s Eve Night (December 31st) when the Butte Cobras come to the Great Falls Ice Plex followed on New Year’s Day (January 1st) with the Americans entertaining the Missoula Junior Bruins and capping off the weekend with a January 2nd contest with the Helena Bighorns. Each game begins at 7:30PM (MST).
HockeyTV, which can be found on a variety of devices including some Smart TV’s, Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Android devices, and web browsers including Google Chrome, FireFox and Safari, airs all home and away games for each team in the North American 3 Hockey League with a paid subscription. Click here if you would like more information about subscribing to Hockey TV (All Access). This is the only way fans can view the games since spectators are still not yet allowed into the home game in Great Falls due to COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the Cascade County Health Board.