By Kevin Scott
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SHERIDAN, Wyo., October 1, 2021 — In a weekend series that was originally scheduled to be played in Great Falls (see story), the Great Falls Americans (2-1-2-1) and the Sheridan Hawks (1-6-0-0) were playing their first head-to-head meeting of the season on Friday evening.
This was the Americans’ third trip to the Cowboy State (Wyoming) in four weeks after playing two games apiece against the other two NA3HL squads (Yellowstone Quake based out of Cody, WY and the Gillette Wild) in recent weeks. The young Great Falls squad was having a challenging time finding ways to pick up victories against their Wyoming counterparts by going 1-1-2 entering tonight’s contest. The lone victory by Greg Sears’ team came on September 11th against the Quake in Cody, Wyoming in a 4-3 shootout victory. Great Falls was hungry and looking for their second win of the season in Wyoming during Friday’s junior hockey action.
Micah Serino scored half of the Americans goals (2) and dished out one assist to guide the #3 Great Falls Americans to a 4-2 decision over the #8 home-standing Sheridan Hawks on Friday night in Wyoming for their second overall win in six contests. Great Falls netminder Will Simpson stopped 23 of 25 shots against the Hawks at the Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center.
During the opening period, Sheridan jumped out to an early lead. North Dakota native Nathan Gilleshammer was the recipient of the Hawks first score with assistance from Teejay Torgrimson and Dakota Kott. The lone score came while the Americans were in the penalty box six minutes into the period. The visiting team took 16 shots during the first twenty minutes but could not put the biscuit in the basket. Sheridan scored on one of their nine shots.
Once both teams came out of their respective locker rooms for the middle period, Great Falls struck early (three minutes in) when Jay Alford’s shot via a pass from Tyler Sunagel and Billings native Patrick Crooks successfully went into the net over Sheridan’s goaltender Thomas Kuriscak to even the score. Great Falls broke the tie and took their first lead ten minutes after Alford’s first score of the year when the team’s leading goal scorer, Micah Serino racked up his fifth goal with Jackson Henningsgard and Thomas Dalsin providing the assists. Great Falls was on the power play when the goal was made with seven minutes remaining. Before the second intermission, the Hawks tied the contest. Dakota Kott, a returning player from the 2020-21 squad who rejoined the team this week, secured the game-tying score off the sticks of Taylor Frerichs and Teejay Torgrimson for their second successful power play opportunity with 4:08 on the clock. Great Falls added 18 shots (34 after the first forty minutes) and limited the host team to 7 (16 total) in the stanza.
The Americans regained the lead again (3-2) 8:28 into the final frame. Micah Serino’s sixth goal came with an assist from AJ Benit (4th) and Sam Duelmier, a defenseman from Canada, picked up his first assist in a Great Falls uniform. Great Falls native Russ Rasmussen lit up the back of the net to ensure the Hawks would not be able to event the score. Micah Serino added his first assist and defenseman Petr Van Voorhis brought his season assist total to two. The #3 team in the Frontier Division skated the final 3:13 without allowing a score by Sheridan.
The Americans led the shots-on-goal category throughout the contest to finished with 54. The Hawks attempted nine shots in the first and third periods to end the game with 25.
Fifteen total penalties were announced before the action concluded on the ice with 48 minutes spent in the sin bin. Power play chances were a key part of the scoring with Sheridan getting both of their goals by taking advantage of the penalty by Great Falls. The Americans went 1-for-3 with Serino’s second period score came on the power play.
After a regulation loss to Yellowstone on September 10th and a shootout setback in Bozeman’s September 18th contest, Will Simpson accumulated his first win in his first season with Great Falls by producing 23 saves. Sheridan’s Thomas Kuriscak after having two wins last year for the Hawks, dropped his record to 0-3-0-0 but not before accruing 50 saves.
NOTE: The Great Falls Americans moved up two spots to third place in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division standings after Friday’s win. Gillette remained in the top spot by defeating the #6 Butte Cobras 6-2 in Wyoming. Helena stayed in second place by easily defeating the #7 Yellowstone Quake, 10-1 and the previous #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs (now #5) fell in overtime to the #4 Badlands Sabres, 3-2 in overtime.
NEXT CONTEST: As the Great Falls Americans near a return for their long-awaited first home games of the season against the Sheridan Hawks on October 15th and 16th at the Great Falls Ice Plex, they have one more game with the Hawks on Saturday, October 2nd at 7:30PM (MST) followed by back-to-back games on Friday (October 8) and Saturday (October 9) against the Helena Bighorns in Montana’s Capital City. HockeyTV is your home to watch the Great Falls Americans all season long.
Additional Media Coverage: September 29, 2021: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Friday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.