Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 16, 2019 — It’s #2 vs. #8 in the Frontier Division tonight as the Great Falls Americans (16-2-1-0), winners of 16 of 19 games this season, battle on home ice against the bottom-dwellers, the Butte Cobras (1-19-0-0), who have struggled on the ice so far this season only tasting victory once.
Two of the three contests between the Americans and Cobras were played in Butte, Montana. Great Falls never allowed Butte to score more than two goals in each of the three meetings and outscored their opponents, 21-6.
The second-ranked Americans have defeated six of the seven other Frontier Division teams at least once (Butte, Gillette (WY) Wild, Sheridan (WY) Hawks, Yellowstone (WY) Quake, Missoula Jr. Bruins and Helena Bighorns) with the top-ranked Bozeman Ice Dogs having been the final team they haven’t faced yet this season but will after the Holiday break in January 2020. Butte’s young squad hasn’t fared well against their Frontier foes and have only been on the winning side, once. The Cobras narrowly defeated the Helena Bighorns, 5-4 for their first win back on October 26th in Helena, Montana.
Last night (November 15th), the Great Falls took a 5-1 lead into the final period of regulation before a 40-minute delay due to unsafe ice conditions at the Great Falls Ice Plex forced the game to be postponed against the Missoula Junior Bruins. On Saturday (November 16th), Missoula conceded the game and the Americans officially won their 15th contest, 5-1 in two periods. Meanwhile, Butte played their home date last night against the Bozeman Ice Dogs putting up four goals but fell short of the victory with a 7-4 decision by the Ice Dogs.
Great Falls was looking to make it four straight over Butte this season during Saturday’s performance in the Electric City.
The Great Falls Americans, second in the Frontier Division, escaped by a narrow 3-2 margin over the last place Butte Cobras during Saturday’s North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) action at the Great Falls Ice Plex with 765 mostly satisfied fans in attendance.
A slow start by both junior hockey teams to begin the game. The Americans had many looks (19 shots) at the net and it took nearly 18 minutes before the puck went through the net but when it did (2:03 left) the home crowd showed their appreciation. Kellen Harris, second on the team in assists behind Jack Olson (23), registered his 16th (assist) when he passed the puck to Levi Mese for his 11th goal to give the host team the early lead before the period concluded. Jack Olson was also credited with an assist. Butte took 10 shots in the first twenty minutes.
The offensive attack provided by both teams was much improved from the opening period. The Americans and Cobras traded goals in the middle stanza. Ty Stovin tied the contest and put Butte on the scoreboard when his shot sailed by Americans netminder Trever Mellen five minutes into the period. Stovin’s 16th goal was assisted by teammates Robin Bagley (12th assist) and Carsten Quam (5th assist). Americans wasted 12 seconds and went the distance to reclaim the lead (2-1) when Americans assist leader, Jack Olson made his 25th assist when he scooted the puck to Kellen Harris who lit up the lamp for his fourth goal. Nick Ramstad also garnered an assist for Great Falls. Four minutes later, the Cobras evened up the score while the Americans were down a man. Ty Stovin found Carsten Quam for his fifth score, which matched his season total for last year with Butte. The scoring for the period came to an end 52 seconds after Butte’s second score as Dylan Olson and Nick Ramstad assisted with their feed to Jake Hayes, who turned 19 years old today, claimed his 15th goal as the Americans went into the locker room in front, 3-2. Butte attempted three more shots in the period than Great Falls (14-11).
The Americans and Cobras skated to a scoreless third period despite combining for 25 shots.
The sixty-minute regular season night game featured 13 power plays with each squad taking advantage with one successful goal. Great Falls committed eight infractions resulting in 16 minutes of penalty time. Butte had five penalties with ten minutes spent in the sin bin.
Great Falls’ Trever Mellen and Butte’s Casey Mattfeldt had busy nights in the net. Mellen is also having a great season backing up top goaltender Viktor Wennberg this season and concluded his evening with 33 saves while picking up his fifth victory. Mattfeldt’s record for the Cobras is now 0-3 in six appearances for head coach Chris Shadow’s squad. The former Great Falls American (2018-19) and Glasgow, Montana product accumulated 41 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans continue their month-long homestand when the #3 Sheridan Hawks (14-4-1-0) come to Great Falls for a two-game home series. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7:30PM each night on Friday and Saturday (November 22-23). HockeyTV will live stream the game with Americans Play-By-Play Announcer, Jeremy Williamson starting the pre-game show at 7:20PM.