By Kevin Scott
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BLAINE, Minn., December 19, 2015 — The Great Falls Americans (19-6-2) found themselves with a 1-0-1 tournament record after two days at the NA3HL Showcase Tournament.
On the first night, Great Falls had no problems getting the puck in the goal and earned a 7-0 shutout win against the Euless (TX) Jr. Stars but fell the following night to the NA3EHL East Top Prospects team in overtime 3-2.
Great Falls challenged the Toledo (OH) Cherokee (15-9-2) on Saturday morning on the final day of action. After suffering a shutout loss to the Granite City Lumberjacks (2-0), the Ohio NA3HL franchise picked up a 5-3 victory over the La Crosse (WI) Freeze on Friday night.
For the second straight day at the Showcase Tournament, the Great Falls Americans made it to overtime but couldn’t gather any points in the extra period. The Americans, 1-0-2 at this year’s tournament, fell to the Toledo (Ohio) Cherokee 3-2 in overtime on the final day of the 2015 NA3HL Showcase tournament in Blaine, Minnesota.
Daniel Goodwin and Isaiah Crawford each scored once during the first and second periods to give the Ohio team a 2-0 lead before the third period. Goodwin’s goal came early in the first period with assistance from Darryl Kuchcinski and Tristin Snyder. Crawford’s points happened with 9:15 remaining in the second period. Nikolas Verbosky and Ricky Kwapich assisted on the scoring drive. Toledo held a 26-18 shots-on-goal advantage after the first 40 minutes.
Great Falls fought back in the third stanza and tied it at 2-2 thanks to goals by defenseman Blake Miller, who scored five minutes into the period on an unassisted scoring drive. Connor Barta’s goal came twleve minutes later. Manitoba native Stevan Goran and newcomer Tyler Garcia assisted on the Americans game-tying score.
In overtime, Ricky Kwapich gathered his second assist of the game for the Cherokee when he found Nick Papandrea for the game-winning score two minutes into overtime.
Both NA3HL squads finished with four infractions for a total of eight minutes in the penalty box but neither team was able to turn any power play opportunities into scoring drives.
Great Falls took 10 shots in each of the last two periods of regulation to finish with 28 against Toledo goaltender Cody Gibson. The Cherokee added 34 in the win.
Great Falls goalie, Jake Stephan, picked up his first overtime loss while stopping 31 of 34 shots sent his way by the Cherokee offense. Cody Gibson led Toledo in the victory with 26 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans won’t play again until the New Year when they head to Gillette, Wyoming for a two-game road series against the Wild. Both games begin on Friday and Saturday, January 1st and 2nd from the Spirit Hall Ice Arena at 7:00PM each night.
Story Courtesy: North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL): NA3HL Showcase comes to an end on Day 3 (December 20, 2015)