By Kevin Scott
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HAVRE, Mont., January 9, 2016 — It was a battle between the top team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division and the last place team on Saturday night in Havre, Montana.
The Great Falls Americans (22-7-2) have never relinquished their top spot in the division all year long while the Glacier Nationals (2-25-2) have struggled to find success on the scoreboard.
Great Falls has dominated in all five meetings coming into Saturday’s contest. Great Falls has scored 40 season goals and allowed just six to the Havre-based NA3HL franchise.
The Nationals, in their second season in Havre, fell in their last game to the Helena Bighorns 9-1 on New Year’s Day. The night before, the Americans handed them a 5-1 loss. Glacier has been on a 19 game losing streak and the last time they came out on top was on October 17th when they defeated the Gillette Wild 6-4 at home.
The top-ranked Great Falls Americans offense put up the first six goals against the Glacier Nationals and earned their eleventh road victory by cruising to a 7-1 victory on Saturday night as 500 fans watched at the Havre Ice Dome.
Great Falls jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period. Austin Krantz and Tyler Garcia each netted a goal for the visiting team. Four Americans assisted including Malachi Bushey and Adam Apangalook on Krantz’ scoring drive with 13 minutes in the first period. Garcia’s first goal as a member of the Americans came nearly nine minutes later with Tanner Congdon and Reed Link setting up the play. The Americans took 24 shots during the opening twenty minutes and held the Nationals to seven against Americans goaltender Lauren Massie.
Before the second intermission, Great Falls would tally three more goals to give them a commanding five goal advantage. Forwards Josh Larson, Adam Apangalook, and Ricards Bernhards each found the back of the net against Glacier net minder Kevin Hale. Hale earlier this season saw action in three contests for the Americans before being traded to the Havre-based Nationals in December. Larson, Wade Wylie, Krantz and Reed Link accumulated the assists in the middle period.
During the first six minutes of the final period of regulation, each team chipped in a goal but the Americans still led 6-1. Bernhards, who is currently the team leader in goals scored, added his nineteenth of the season off a pass from assist leader Tanner Congdon, who now has 27 assists for the Frontier Division leaders. Trevor Jenson gave Glacier their first points of the night with help from teammates Logan Kraft and Ronald Robertson. Marshfield, Wisconsin native Jacob Draves put the puck between the pipes with 4:10 remaining to ensure the Americans victory. Blake Miller was credited with the assist.
Neither team gave up a goal while down a man. Both teams failed to convert any of their total nine power play chances. The Americans had just five minor penalties resulting in ten minutes of time in the penalty box while the host team finished with nine infractions for 45 minutes including three game misconducts.
Goaltender Lauren Massie has now won 10 of his 15 appearances and stopped 23 of the 24 shots sent his way by the Glacier offense. Former American Kevin Hale played the entire game making 49 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans return home for three straight home games with the Bozeman Ice Dogs on Friday, January 15th and two games against the Gillette Wild on Saturday and Sunday, January 16-17th. Friday and Saturday contests at the Great Falls Ice Plex begin at 7:30PM while Sunday’s game starts at 4:00PM.