By Kevin Scott
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BLAINE, Minn., December 17, 2015 — The Great Falls Americans have continued their winning ways this season after winning the 2014 NA3HL Frontier Division title last March.
Great Falls, which currently has a 19-6 record and sits atop the Frontier Division, headed into the 2015 NA3HL Showcase tournament with momentum winning five of their last six games. The Americans served as the home team in Thursday’s contest against the Euless (Texas) Jr. Stars on the first day of the three day tournament that includes many college scouts. This week’s three-game tournament does count in the official team standings with Great Falls being the home team twice including tonight’s game and Saturday’s game against the Ohio-based Toledo Cherokee.
The Stars, who are 6-20-1 and are in last place in the six team South Division, are coming off a three game losing streak against the Texas Brahmas and the Louisiana Drillers.
During the 2014 NA3HL Showcase Tournament, the Great Falls Americans went 3-0 with wins against the Minnesota Flying Aces (3-0), Point Mallard Ducks (2-1) and a 4-3 shootout victory over the St. Louis Jr. Blues.
Josh Larson accumulated two goals and dished out one assist as the Great Falls Americans easily defeated the Euless (Texas) Jr. Stars by blanking them 7-0 on the first day of the 2015 NA3HL Showcase junior hockey tournament in Blaine, Minnesota. Nearly four hundred spectators saw these two NA3HL teams battle on the ice.
It took both teams awhile to get their offenses going as neither team was able to put any points on the scoreboard during the opening twenty minutes of action at the 2015 NA3HL Showcase tournament. Great Falls had 18 shots while giving up seven. The Americans were called for four minor penalties while Euless was penalty-free. Great Falls starting goaltender Jake Stephan recorded seven of his nine total assists during the first stanza.
The Americans scored four straight goals against the Euless defense during the final 4:19 of the middle period to give the top-ranked team in the Frontier Division a 4-0 advantage after forty minutes of play. Wade Wylie, Ricards Bernhards, Josh Larson and Adam Apangalook all found the back of the net. Wylie started the scoring drive for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad with help from Tegan Harrington and Brendan Jester, who each assisted at the 15:25 mark of the period. Bernhards scored 90 seconds later off the sticks of Josh Larson and Tanner Congdon. Apangalook netted the third score as Tyler Garcia, the newest member of the Great Falls NA3HL franchise, and Connor Barta picked up the assists. Russia native Arseny Ivanov found an open Josh Larson for the final points of the period. The host team only allowed the Stars offense to take just four shots against Great Falls Americans goaltenders, Jake Stephan and Lauren Massie who each played half of the period.
Josh Larson added his second goal of the game and defenseman Blake Miller chipped in his first during the first six minutes of the final period to increase the lead for the Montana team to 6-0. Both scoring opportunities came within a 13 second span. Ricards Bernhards, Malachi Bushey, Mitchell Ramstad and Tanner Congdon all helped set up the points. Redwing, Minnesota native Mitchell Ramstad registered the last goal of the game with 7:22 left in regulation. Miles Giorgione and Wade Wylie were credited with the assists. Great Falls had their way with the visiting team from Euless, Texas racking up 50 shots compared to 13 for the Stars.
Euless committed just two minor penalties for four minutes while last season’s Frontier Division champions in the NA3HL finished with seven penalties resulting in 14 minutes of penalty time. Neither team produced any points off the nine total power plays.
Alaska forward Josh Larson led the way with three points (2 goals and an assist) while Wade Wylie and Ricards Bernhards each finished with one goal and one assist. Tanner Congdon had one assist in each of the final two periods.
Americans goalies Lauren Massie and Jake Stephan both saw action and never allowed a goal. Massie picking up his ninth win of the year in 13 games. Stephan had nine of the 13 saves. Thomas Bailey, who suffered the loss for the Texas team, gathered 43 saves in sixty minutes.
Great Falls’ opponent for Friday’s game, the NA3EHL East, one of two Top Prospect teams at the prestigious tournament, fell to the Wisconsin Whalers 10-1 on Thursday night.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls faces the NA3EHL East squad on Friday, December 18th in the second day of the three-day NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota. The action begins at 2:15PM (MST) from the Schwan Super Rink. Click here for tournament information.