Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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BUTTE, Mont., December 7, 2018 — Due to the way the schedule came out, the Great Falls Americans (19-4-0-1) has only faced the Butte Cobras (2-19-1-0) once back on September 28th in Great Falls.
Great Falls spent most of the night scoring 12 goals including six in the third frame to defeat the Butte Cobras in their first ever meeting since their days in the American West Hockey League (AWHL) when Butte was known as the Fighting Irish 16 years ago. Butte tallied just one goal in the second period.
Both Great Falls and Butte’s rosters have changed since their first head-to-head contest took place 10 weeks ago. The Cobras overhauled their roster with many new faces and Great Falls has made a few trades including trading away Wisconsin native Matt Janke to the Coulee Region Chill (NA3HL Central Division) a few weeks ago.
Minnesota native Dylan Olson scored a hat trick (3 goals) all in the third period and teammate Brody Boyce scored twice as the Great Falls Americans won their ninth road game of the season in dominating fashion, 9-1 over the host Butte Bulldogs on Friday night in the Mining City. Goaltender Drew Scites stopped 20 shots.
Australian Sean McLean picked up his third goal of the season during first period action for Great Falls. Dylan Olson and Levi Mese earned the assists to put the Americans in front, 1-0 after the first twenty minutes. The first scoring drive for coach Greg Sears’ squad came during the first two minutes. The Americans had a slight edge in shots over the Cobras, 13-12.
More scoring came during the middle stanza. Marshall Bragg, a defenseman from Glasgow, Montana passed the puck to Saskatchewan native Tyson Stovin to light up the lamp as the Cobras temporarily pulled even six minutes into the period. Cody Dearing helped Great Falls regain the lead as he put in the Americans second goal 94 seconds after Butte scored. Jens Juliussen received his 34th assist while newcomer George Nuutinen achieved his sixth assist. Great Falls would stretch their lead to 4-1 before the second intermission behind goals by Brody Boyce and Justin Ohnstad. The short-handed goals were assisted by Justin Ohnstad, Garrett Peters, Luke Richesin and Brody Boyce. The visiting team attempted 31 shots on Butte goaltender Karl Zodda. Butte’s offense was held to just five shots.
The Americans continued to find ways to score. The third frame saw five more goals with Brody Boyce and Nick Torres scoring one goal apiece and Dylan Olson having three successful scoring opportunities for a hat trick. The first two goals by the right-handed Minnesota forward came within 57 seconds of each other while the third and final one came right before the horn sounded to end the contest. The assists were compiled by ten players including Nate Simpson, Ben Rinckey, Levi Mese, Braxton Lorenz, Garrett Peters, Brandon Peterson, Jens Juliussen, Cody Dearing, Lindros Beard and Brody Boyce.
After out-shooting the Cobras, 19-4 in the final period, Great Falls tripled the shots over Butte (63-21) when the game concluded.
The two junior hockey squads combined for 22 penalties with 86 penalty minutes but saw no power play chances during their second meeting of the season.
Drew Scites, the top goaltender for the Americans, made 20 saves in sixty minutes in the net. The last place Cobras utilized two goaltenders, Karl Zodda and Casey Mattfeldt. Zodda, the Utah netminder, earned the start but took the loss despite swatting away 42 shots. Casey Mattfeldt came in relief of Zodda minutes into the third period to finish with 12 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: There are two games remaining before the 2018 NA3HL Showcase Tournament invades Blaine, Minnesota next Sunday (December 16th). Great Falls plays at top-ranked Helena on Saturday, December 8th beginning at 7:05PM from the Helena Ice Arena. Great Falls hosts their only game in December (14th) with a contest against the Bozeman Ice Dogs at 7:30PM next Friday evening in Great Falls.