By Kevin Scott
BILLINGS, Mont., December 31, 2014 — The Great Falls Americans looked to close out 2014 on a high note as they faced the Billings Bulls in the Magic City on New Year’s Eve.
After a week off for the holiday break, the Americans resumed competition in the NA3HL on Wednesday night. Great Falls has won two of their three meetings this season including a 3-0 shutout victory on November 14th.
The Bulls outscored the Americans 4-0 during the middle period and cruised to a 6-1 victory at the Centennial Ice Arena in Billings. Great Falls dropped just their fourth NA3HL contest of the season and their first road loss to close out 2014.
Both teams exchanged points at the beginning of the contest. Steven Thompson’s unassisted goal gave Billings the lead first. A few minutes later, Great Falls tied the contest (1-1) as Lucas Lomax and Arseny Ivanov found an open Dylan Garton with 12:58 left in the opening period. Despite each team finding the back of the net once, the Bulls out-shot the Americans 21-9.
Alex Lundstrom and Ian Wiljanen would connect on scoring plays three times in the middle period for Billings. First, Alex Lundstrom scored on a power play from a feed by Wiljanen during the opening 4:36 of the second period. Eight minutes later, the Lundstrom-Wiljanen duo would convert the third team goal of the contest. Lundstrom and Wiljanen would strike again with help from Bryce Jensen with 2:30 minutes left before the second intermission. Reed Kaiser capped off the scoring for the Bulls as Steven Thompson and Tristan Henrichs chipped in the assists to give the Billings franchise a 5-1 advantage. Great Falls did out-shoot Billings 21 to 10 but failed to convert any scoring opportunities.
The only scoring in the final period came from Nick Rizzo. His tally with 6:45 left in regulation sealed the victory for the Bulls. Tristan Henrichs and Steven Thompson each picked up their second assists of the night.
Alex Lundstrom and Ian Wiljanen led the Bulls with three goals and three assists in a combined effort for the home team. Lundstrom’s hat trick happened during the second period. Steven Thompson also contributed a goal and two assists. Dylan Garton managed to score the Americans only points of the night in the first period. Arseny Ivanov and Lucas Lomax each earned one assist apiece.
Both teams combined for 21 infractions with 50 minutes of penalty time.
The Bulls registered one goal on five power play attempts while stopping the Americans from converting any of their nine opportunities.
Great Falls held a 42-39 advantage in the shots on goal category after three periods of action.
Billings goaltender Cole Semchak stopped 41 of the 42 shots attempted by the Great Falls offense. Lauren Massie added 33 saves for the Americans.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will play their first home game of the new year against the Helena Bighorns on Friday, January 2, 2015 with the action starting at 7:30PM at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – 1, Billings, Steven Thompson (unassisted), 3:36. 2, Great Falls, Dylan Garton (Arseny Ivanov, Lucas Lomax), 7:02.
Second Period – 3, Billings, Alex Lundstrom (power play) (Ian Wiljanen), 4:36. 4, Billings, Alex Lundstrom (Ian Wiljanen), 12:20. 5, Billings, Alex Lundstrom (Ian Wiljanen, Bryce Jensen), 17:23. 6, Billings, Reed Kaiser (Steven Thompson, Tristan Henrichs), 18:47.
Third Period – 7, Billings, Nick Rizzo (Tristan Henrichs, Steven Thompson), 13:15.
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 42, Billings 39.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-9, Billings 1-for-5.
Attendance – 459
Additional Media Coverage: January 1, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Lundstrom’s hat trick boosts Bulls past Americans