By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 25, 2016 — After two consecutive shutout victories last weekend against the Glacier Nationals (12-0) and the Missoula Jr. Bruins (6-0), the Great Falls Americans (12-3-1-2) were looking to do the same (or at least pull out their 12th victory of the season) when the Billings Bulls (4-14-0-1) came to town for their second meeting.
Earlier in the Americans fourth contest of the 2016-17 season, the Americans easily defeated the Billings squad 7-2 behind the solid effort of forward Tanner Congdon, who racked up two goals and one assist. Keith Gustin and Bryan Miller scored the goals for the Bulls.
On Wednesday night, the Billings Bulls fell to the Bozeman Ice Dogs, 10-5 at the Centennial Ice Arena in Billings, Montana.
The Great Falls Americans scored four goals in the first and seven more in the middle period before the Billings Bulls answered with a goal of their own as the second ranked team in the Frontier Division earned a 14-1 lopsided victory over the seventh-place Billings Bulls on Friday night. The 850 fans saw forward Tanner Congdon get a hat trick with four goals including three in the second period.
The Great Falls offense got going right away during the opening period. Brendan Jester and Jesse Johnson each acquired one assist apiece when they found an open Tegan Harrington for the game’s first score. The first score came 42 seconds in the period as the puck sailed by Billings goaltender Simo Huhtanen. Great Falls then took a 3-0 lead with Congdon and Matt Janke adding more points to the scoreboard for the Americans during a two-goal scoring drive that happened 59 seconds apart. Danny O’Donnell, who received an NA3HL honorable mention as a defenseman earlier this week, recorded the final goal of the first stanza with 2:33 on the clock. Brendan Jester, Danny O’Donnell, Malachi Bushey, Sandis Mezharaups, Matt Janke and Jesse Johnson assisted during the four-goal period. Great Falls had 19 of the 22 shots-on-goal.
In the second period, Great Falls went on a 7-0 run with two more goals by team leader Tanner Congdon and one goal apiece by Mitchell Ramstad, Matt Janke, Kody Thomas, Sandis Mezharaups, Danny O’Donnell and Jesse Johnson. Billings prevented a shutout by the Americans with Austin Lange getting the puck between the pipes with 7:37 left before the second intermission. Jesse Johnson and Tanner Congdon tallied goals in the final seven minutes for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad. Once again, the Americans held the Bulls to just three shots on goal while they registered 20 in the period.
The host team chipped in one more goal in the final period. Sandis Mezharaups from Latvia scored his second goal of the game and 14th of the season midway through the final twenty minutes of action. Malachi Bushey and Matt Janke garnered the assists.
The penalty kill for Great Falls was spotless as Billings couldn’t capitalize on either of their two power play chances. Tanner Congdon’s third scoring drive in the second was the only power play that the Americans had on the night.
The Americans combined for 39 shots over the first two periods and out-shot the Bulls 48-13.
In addition to Congdon’s four goals and one assist, the Americans were paced by Matt Janke and Danny O’Donnell who each scored twice and dished out two assists. Sandis Mezharaups ended the night with two goals and one assist and Jesse Johnson accumulated one score along with three assists.
Great Falls had four of the six total penalties including one major. Billings incurred two minor penalties that occurred in the last two periods.
Kyler Ayers picked up his fourth win in a Great Falls uniform. The Idaho product allowed one goal in 13 attempts by the Billings offense. Ohio native Simo Huhtanen got the start in the goal for the visiting team. He recorded 15 saves in the first before being replaced by backup Chayo Goodwin, who played 11 minutes in the second period. Huhtanen returned for the rest of the contest with 27 saves. Goodwin finished with seven.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will travel for just their seventh road game of the season when they make the short trek to Helena, Montana on Saturday, November 26th to face the Helena Bighorns. The scheduled start at the Helena Ice Arena is scheduled for 7:05PM.