By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
CODY, Wyo., March 3, 2017 — The one team that the #2 Great Falls Americans (37-4-2-3) have had to look up to in the standings for most of the 2016-17 season was the top-ranked team, the Yellowstone Quake (40-3-0-3).
The Wyoming-based Yellowstone Quake have won 12 straight contests after the Great Falls Americans snapped their previous win streak back in the middle of January when the Americans visited Riley Arena in Cody, Wyoming and edged the Quake in both games (3-2 and 2-1 wins).
Against the Quake, the Americans have won half of their head-to-head matchups while sporting a 2-1-1 record. The two losses back in Great Falls included a 4-3 overtime loss and a 5-2 setback in regulation during the third week of the season in September.
Great Falls hasn’t tasted defeat since the final day of the NA3HL Showcase Tournament (December 18th) in Blaine, Minnesota. Since their Christmas break after the Showcase Tournament, the Americans have racked up 18 consecutive wins including 11 on the road and haven’t looked back.
With the playoff picture already in focus, both teams were trying to keep the winning streak rolling along as they will enjoy an extra week off after claiming the first top two seeds in the Frontier Division. Great Falls and Yellowstone automatically receive a bye into the Frontier Division Semi-Finals that begin around the middle of March.
The second-ranked Great Falls Americans trailed 5-2 after the first two periods and wound up losing to the top-ranked Yellowstone Quake 8-2 on Friday night in Wyoming in the second-to-last regular season contest for both teams. The Yellowstone Quake picked up their 40th win of the season as their offense helped them deliver another victory. Great Falls had their 18-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
The Yellowstone offense jumped on top of Great Falls 2-0 to begin the junior hockey contest. Reed Kelly, a 5’8” forward from Somerset, Wisconsin, scored both power play goals for the Quake. Max Meyer, Cosimo Yapello and Matt Runyon each assisted while Great Falls was down a man.
A trio of players from Yellowstone contributed to three scoring drives during the first four minutes of the second stanza. Matt Runyon, Max Doner, and Cole Stewart added points to their season total of goals scored. Six players set up the scores including Reed Kelly, Hunter Ruschmeyer, Curt Greenbush, Justin Berezinski, Pablo Pantoja and Max Meyer. Logan Parsley and Brendan Jester scored before the end of the period as the Americans trailed 5-2. Jester assisted on Parsley’s third score of the season and Ricards Bernhards chipped in his seventh assist. After Yellowstone took two more shots than the Americans did (11-9) in the first, each team attempted 13 in the middle period.
The Quake prevented the Americans from getting the puck in the net during the final frame. Max Doner and Cole Stewart each connected for their second goal of the game and Curt Greenbush also scored after picking up an assist in the previous period. Reed Kelly, Matt Runyon, and Pablo Pantoja accumulated their second assists of the night while Cole Stewart added one.
Reed Kelly scored twice in the first period and dished out two assists for the win by the host team. Cole Stewart also lit up the lamp twice for coach Ryan Theros’ squad. Meanwhile, Great Falls was led by Brendan Jester, who earned Honorable Mention as a Star of the Week in the Frontier Division for his play last week, tallied one goal and one assist. Logan Parsley, a defenseman from Alaska, had the other goal for the Americans who lost their fourth loss in regulation.
Six penalties were called on Great Falls resulting in four goals scored by the Quake on power play chances. The Wyoming club accrued 10 penalties resulting in 20 minutes of time spent in the penalty box.
Goaltenders Nick Nast and Kyler Ayers had a difficult night in the net for Great Falls. Both netminders allowed four goals apiece and combined for 29 saves. Nick Ottenbacher, played from start to finish for the Quake, stopped 29 of the 31 shots.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will remain in Cody, Wyoming to take on the Yellowstone Quake on Saturday, March 4th for their 47th and final game of the 2016-17 regular season. The first playoff game in Great Falls will take place on Friday, March 17th against a team to be announced.