By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., March 12, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans (34-11-2) picked up a 6-4 win over the Yellowstone Quake (35-9-3) on Friday night to stay alive as both teams battled it out on Saturday evening in the regular season finale with the winner getting the top seed in the Frontier Division playoffs that start this next week and the loser gets the #2 seed.
The only thing that is known is that both teams are playoff bound but for the Americans to take the top seed, they would need to win twice including tonight’s game. A split would mean, the Montana squad would finish as a runner-up and a date with Bozeman in the Frontier Divisional semifinals that start next week.
Despite their best efforts, the Great Falls Americans found themselves on the losing end of a 5-4 loss to the Yellowstone Quake during Saturday’s final game of the regular season for both squads in Great Falls. Great Falls led 3-2 but allowed three straight goals to be scored on them. The loss means the Americans will be the #2 seed and Yellowstone will take the top seed in next week’s Frontier Division Semi-finals.
Yellowstone connected on their only power play during the opening period of the season finale for both teams to take a 1-0 advantage. Tony Dahlberg scored the first of his two goals for the Quake in the first twenty minutes thanks to assists by Will Lundsverk and Curtis Greenbush. Yellowstone took 11 shots while Great Falls had 10.
Tony Dahlberg opened up the middle period with his second goal in as many periods. Jake Dickison assisted to give the top-seeded Wyoming-based team a two goal lead with 11:04 on the clock. It took the Americans another seven minutes before they registered their first goal of the game. Reed Link was able to find an open Ricards Bernhards to cut the Great Falls deficit to 2-1.
In the third, Kyle Johnson and Connor Barta scored back-to-back goals to give the home team a temporary 3-2 lead. Jesse Johnson and Tegan Harrington provided the assists on Johnson’s game-tying goal with during the first two minutes of the stanza while Austin Krantz and Josh Larson helped set up Barta’s points. Yellowstone’s offense got fired up and converted three straight points in a ten-minute span to put them ahead 5-3 with under four minutes left in their final regular season game of the 2015-16 season. Max Doner, John Berezinski and Nicholas Elliott all racked up goals for the Quake. Great Falls scored a final goal by Miles Giorgione but couldn’t come up with another goal before the end of the contest and came up short in a comeback bid.
Great Falls had four minor penalties and one major called on them during the contest. Yellowstone accumulated five minors resulting in 18 minutes of penalty time.
Lance Knudson redirected 47 of the 51 shots that the Americans offense sent his way. Lauren Massie finished with 33 saves in the loss for Great Falls. Massie, the native of Wasilla, Alaska, finished the 2015-16 regular season with a 16-7-1 record along with 548 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The #2 Great Falls Americans will face the #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs in the 2016 Frontier Divisional best-of-three semifinals slated to begin in Great Falls on Thursday night (March 17th) at 7:30PM from the Great Falls Ice Plex. Game two will take place at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana at 7:30PM on Friday, March 18th. If a third game is needed, the series will shift back to Great Falls on Sunday, March 20th at 4:00PM.