Americans end four game skid with a 5-2 victory over the Ice Dogs

By Kevin Scott

Box Score
Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 14, 2023 — FINALLY!!! The #5 Great Falls Americans (14-18-1-0) and the #6 Bozeman Ice Dogs (14-19-0-1) faced each other on the ice after four months of regular season action.

The official NA3HL junior hockey schedule had the Americans playing the other six Frontier Division opponents multiple times except for the Bozeman Ice Dogs throughout September, October, November, and December.

On Saturday, Great Falls and Bozeman clashed on the ice in Great Falls.

The Americans have had an up-and-down season as they are in sixth place in the eight-team NA3HL Frontier Division after four months of action. Great Falls started the season in September with a 2-3-0-0 record. The Americans best month was in October when they won six of their nine contests including seven at the Great Falls Ice Plex. In November and December, they combined for a 5-10-1-0 record. The January schedule saw the Americans fall to the Butte Cobras, 2-1 on January 6 in Butte, Montana (game summary) and a 5-1 setback against the Helena Bighorns on the road, 5-1 on Friday evening (game summary).

As for the Bozeman Ice Dogs, they started the 2022-23 season in September by defeating the Butte Cobras twice for a 2-4-0-0 record. During the months of October and November, they finished with a 4-11-0-1 mark with two wins against the Helena Bighorns. The Ice Dogs finished out December 2022 with a 7-2 record with three victories (Bay State Bobcats, Mid Cities jr. Stars and the Austin Ice Bats) coming at the 2022 NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota. So far in January 2023, Bozeman has earned the 1-1 split against the Butte Cobras on the road including a 3-2 home victory for the Ice Dogs on Friday evening (box score). Bodie Shepardson scored the game-winning shootout goal.

Silas Hughes and Alex Leaf are the leaders for the Great Falls Americans. Leaf leads the team in points scored (25) and 22 assists while Silas Hughes has accumulated twelve goals under the direction of fifth-year head coach Greg Sears. The Bozeman Ice Dogs leaders for head coach Mike Perkins include Bodie Shepardson (15 goals), Owen House (20 assists) and netminder Cam Milewski (10-11-0-0 record in 22 contests, 938 saves, and a 0.938 save percentage).

Forward Silas Hughes and goaltender Ryan Stowe guided the #5 Great Falls Americans to a 5-2 victory over the #6 Bozeman Ice Dogs in their first meeting of the season in Great Falls. Silas Hughes scored twice and dished out one assist and Ryan Stowe swatted away 49 of the 51 shots by the Ice Dogs.

Bozeman scored the first goal 70 seconds into the first period. The California connection of Matthias Godfrey to Chris Porciuncula put the Ice Dogs out in front temporarily. Great Falls evened up the score a minute later as Seth Theriault netted his first goal as a Great Falls American off the stick of Matt Ramstad and Sterling Amdahl. Silas Hughes broke the tie 4:37 after Theriault’s scoring drive with Sam Duehlmeier and Alex Leaf gathering the assists. The home team struck six minutes later with Tyler Sunagel racking up his ninth goal for the 3-1 lead. Silas Hughes and Wes Weisenburger set up the third score. The Americans took 17 of the 36 shots-on-goal after the first twenty minutes.

Bozeman scored 18 seconds into the second stanza to cut their deficit to 3-2. Owen House lit up the lamp for the eleventh time this season with Bodie Shepardson and Dominik Hauer picking up the assists. Jace Thompson responded for the Americans later in the period (while Bozeman was in the penalty box) by getting the puck by Ice Dogs netminder Axel Rosenlund for Great Falls’ fourth score of the game. Alex Leaf, the team leader in assists for Great Falls, chipped in his second assist of the contest and 22nd overall while Tyler Sunagel added his 14th assist.

Both offenses quieted down in the final period. The Ice Dogs pulled starting goaltender Axel Rosenlund with three minutes remaining to add another attacker on the ice. Great Falls was able to take advantage of the open net with Silas Hughes’ second score with 51 seconds remaining to ensure the Americans victory and snap their four-game losing streak.

The host team managed to win despite Bozeman outshooting them (51-35) throughout the sixty-minute contest.

Eight minor penalties occurred during Saturday’s contest with 16 minutes spent in the penalty box between these two Montana rivals. Great Falls went 1-for-2 on the power play while Bozeman could not answer their one power play opportunity.

Ryan Stowe recorded his second victory (2-3-0-0) for Great Falls this season in his seventh appearance. Stowe, who calls Calgary, Alberta, Canada home, allowed one goal each in the first and second periods to end the night with 49 saves. Stowe’s first win of the season came against the Badlands (SD) Sabres at home on October 29th where he led the team to a 5-4 shootout victory with his 40 saves (game summary). Axel Rosenlund, who suffered two losses this season with the NA3HL’s Minnesota Loons before coming over to the Ice Dogs in December, is now 3-3-0-0 with Bozeman. The Minnesota goalie made 30 saves in the loss.

NOTES: John Van Cleave, a Wisconsin scout for the Great Falls Americans, passed away earlier this week from cancer. The fifth-year scout had over 35 years of hockey experience. The Aurora, Minnesota native played for the University of Wisconsin- Superior Yellowjackets, an NCAA Division III school. Our condolences go out to his family.

Also, the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) announced this week the schedule and the coaches for  the 2023 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament (TPT) taking place on Monday, February 6th and Tuesday, February 7th at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The ‘all-star’ tournament features representation from all five NA3HL divisions and a North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) 18U squad that will each play two contests during the two-day festivities. Each team will have 20 players with head coaches from every team nominating the players. The coaches that will participate are based on the teams with the highest winning percentage (through January 8th) in each division. Gillette Wild Head Coach Ethan Hayes and Helena Bighorns mentor Scott Cunningham will coach the Frontier Division team. Player rosters have not been announced yet. Click here for more information about the TPT including the schedule and the coaches that will represent each of the divisions.

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: #1 Gillette (WY) Wild (26-5-1-2) swept their home-and-home series with the third-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks (19-13-2-0) on Saturday. The Wild cruised to an 11-3 win on Friday. Remington Richardson led the Wild with two goals in a 6-3 win on Saturday over Sheridan. Dominic Hite added another win to his resume with 46 saves. Gillette outscored Sheridan 17-6 over two games for their 26th win of the season and their eighth straight victory over their rivals. A trio of Hawks players scored the goals including Jackson LeBrasseur, Teejay Torgrimson, and Ryan McKenna (box score).

The #2 Helena Bighorns (26-7-1-1) and the #4 Butte Cobras (17-15-1-0) each scored once during the first period before Helena scored four unanswered goals to post a 5-1 win over their Montana rivals. Braden Cunningham led the Bighorns with three goals (hat trick) and one assist for coach Scott Cunningham’s squad. Tyler Bloom (1 goal, 2 assists) and Harlan Wojtusik (3 assists) also contributed to the win. Luke Schleusner scored, and Cade Wessman and Nick Bradshaw assisted on the first period tally for the Cobras. Keaton Woolsey (25 saves) went 2-0 on the weekend for Helena while Caleb Cross had a busy night with 62 saves (box score).

After Friday’s 4-3 win over the #7 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (11-18-4-2), the #8 Badlands (SD) Sabres (10-19-2-2) looked for redemption on Saturday at the Roosevelt Park Ice Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota. Badlands and Yellowstone each connected on three scoring drives after three periods followed by a scoreless five-minute overtime that resulted in a shootout. Brady Ridnour was the only player on either team to get the puck by the opposing goaltender during the one-on-one shootout to hand the Sabres the 4-3 decision and a weekend split with the Quake. Peyton Wilson, Jack Walters, and AJ Petrotto each scored during regulation for Badlands. Brayson Bennett scored two goals and Zac Orwig added one for Wyoming. Zach Broxterman (Sabres) allowed three goals and finished with 42 saves. John Hughes took the shootout loss with 30 saves for Yellowstone (box score).

NEXT CONTEST: The sixth-ranked Great Falls Americans will be on the road on Friday, January 20th against the fourth-ranked Butte Cobras (17-14-1-0) at the Butte Community Ice Center. The Americans will play at the friendly confines of the Great Falls Ice Plex when they entertain the Bozeman Ice Dogs (13-18-0-1) on Saturday, January 21st. Both contests begin at 7:30PM (MST) and can be seen live on HockeyTV.

After playing most of their home portion of their 2022-23 NA3HL schedule before January 1st, the Americans have just three regular season home contests remaining. The Bozeman Ice Dogs will be in town on January 21, February 24, and February 25. The Americans full schedule and results can be found by clicking here.