Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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MISSOULA, Mont., October 27, 2018 — A night after sending the Helena Bighorns home with their first loss of the season, the Great Falls Americans (14-2-0-0) were back in action with their eighth road trip of the season when they encountered the Missoula Jr. Bruins (5-8-0-0).
Great Falls, under the direction of first-year head coach Greg Sears, have already defeated the Missoula Jr. Bruins twice this season. Their first contest of the year in Missoula, Great Falls earned a 5-0 shutout win and last Saturday (Oct. 20th), Great Falls edged Missoula, 5-3 in Great Falls.
The Great Falls Americans cruised to a 5-1 win over the Missoula Jr. Bruins on Saturday night in the Garden City. Great Falls has now won seven of eight away from the Great Falls Ice Plex. Viktor Wennberg, the 5’11” goaltender from Stockholm, Sweden stopped 45 of the 46 shots that the Missoula offense provided.
The Junior Bruins took the early lead during first period action when Vadim Zubkov’s pass to Misha Akatnov quickly made the score 1-0 as five minutes expired off the clock. Ty Dittman also received an assist on the scoring drive. Ben Rinckey’s penalty shot over Missoula goaltender Billy Yoder tied the contest at 1-1 with 4:39 to go in the opening period. The visiting Americans broke the tie with 32 seconds to go when Payton McSharry’s slap-shot from Jens Juliussen during the power play gave them their first lead of the night. It was McSharry’s 17th goal of the season and 24th assist for Juliussen. Great Falls out-shot Missoula 21-12.
The Americans scored two goals early in the middle period. Matt Janke and Jens Juliussen each racked up a goal during a 10-second span. Nate Simpson recorded two assists and Payton McSharry added one to help Great Falls pull ahead of Missoula 4-1 before the second intermission.
Great Falls scored one final goal in the third period. Matt Janke and Jens Juliussen arranged the goal by Garrett Peters at the 13:27 mark.
Both teams spent their share of time in the penalty box. Great Falls and Missoula each committed six infractions with the Bruins spending 54 minutes and the Americans 20 minutes in the sin bin. Payton McSharry and Garrett Peters scored on Great Falls’ two power play opportunities.
Viktor Wennberg has now won five of his six starts and redirected 45 of the 46 shots he faced for coach Greg Sears’ squad. He remained perfect after the first period. Billy Yoder struggled in the net for the home team. The netminder from Alaska allowed five goals including two in the first and second periods.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans and Bruins will tangle on the ice for the fourth time this season when Great Falls plays host to Missoula on Friday, November 2nd. The contest at the Great Falls Ice Plex starts at 7:30PM.
Additional Media Coverage: October 29, 2018: Great Falls Tribune: Americans overhaul Bruins, link three in a row