Americans escape with a 5-3 win over the Bighorns
By Kevin Scott
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HELENA, Mont., November 26, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans (13-3-1-2) and their rivals, the Helena Bighorns (7-12-1) have met only once prior to tonight’s contest in Helena, Montana this season.
Great Falls earned a 5-0 shutout win last month (October 28th) in Great Falls. Forward Brendan Jester scored three of the five goals for a hat trick during that NA3HL hockey contest.
Great Falls racked up nine second period goals last night against the Billings Bulls as they pummeled the Billings NA3HL franchise 14-1 for their twelve victory in 18 games. Meanwhile, the Bighorns had a tough time getting their offense going and fell 5-1 to the Bozeman Ice Dogs on Friday evening in Bozeman. They were looking for their eighth victory but came up short.
Tanner Congdon leads the Americans in goals scored (16) while teammate Danny O’Donnell has the team lead in assists with 21. Bradley Estrada has accumulated 31 points (18 goals and 13 assists) this season for Helena.
The Great Falls Americans scored five goals in the first two periods to hold off a failed comeback attempt by the Helena Bighorns on Saturday night. Great Falls emerged with a 5-3 win at the Helena Ice Arena for their second win against them.
The visiting team from Great Falls scored two goals in the first seven minutes of action. Tegan Harrington and Brendan Jester each found the back of the net. Jester and Danny O’Donnell set up the first points made by Harrington while Nathan Margeson assisted on Jester’s short-handed goal. During the final minute of the first period, Tanner Congdon gathered his 16th goal with help from Brendan Jester and Danny O’Donnell, who each recorded their second assist.
Danny O’Donnell tacked on his eleventh goal during the first 76 seconds of the middle period on an unassisted scoring opportunity to give the Americans 4-0 advantage. Helena cut the deficit to 4-1 36 seconds later. Saskatchewan native Ryatt Bayne collected his fourth goal of the season. Great Falls’ Kody Thomas succeeded in putting the puck between the pipes later in the period to give the Americans a four-point lead (5-1). Assisting on the play was Jesse Johnson and Cameron Cunningham. The visitors took six more shots (30-24) than the host team after two periods of hockey.
The third period belonged to the Bighorns. Helena tried to pull out a comeback but they fell short in their attempt. Bradley Estrada added his 18th goal of the season for Helena while Manitoba native Josh Schur netted his first points of the season. Brendan Bessee assisted on both power play scoring drives while Dane Rieger and Kyle Hayter earned one assist apiece.
The Americans finished 0-for-7 on the power play while Helena scored two of their three goals while Great Falls was being penalized.
Despite the Bighorns out-shooting the Americans in the final two periods, Great Falls held on for a 43-41 shots-on-goal advantage.
Brendan Jester and Danny O’Donnell each tailed one goal and dished out two assists in helping the Americans get their fourth straight victory.
The Americans spent 45 minutes in the penalty box by committing 12 infractions. Helena incurred 14 minutes of penalty time with seven minor infractions.
Nick Nast (Great Falls) and Nicholas Battaglia of Helena each accrued 38 saves on the night.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will have one home and one away contest coming up this week. The Glacier Nationals will be making their third appearance in Great Falls on Thursday, December 1st at 7:30PM live from the Great Falls Ice Plex. The following night, Great Falls will travel up to Havre, Montana to face the Nationals in their home arena beginning at 8:00PM.
Additional Media Coverage:
Nov. 26, 2016: ABC/FOX Montana: 11/26 Great Falls Americans at Helena Bighorns Highlights and Final Score Watch Video