By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 4, 2021 — Since coming back off the holiday break, the #2 Great Falls Americans (16-6-1-0) have played four home games in five days.
Great Falls ended 2020 with a New Year’s Eve clash with the #8 Butte Cobras (3-20-1-0) and easily won 7-0, New Year’s Night saw the Americans face a tough offensive opponent in the #3 Missoula Junior Bruins (15-6-2-0), who are coming on strong this season. The Americans kept it close throughout and tied it before the end of regulation, but the Bruins won seconds into overtime. The #7 Helena Bighorns (6-13-0-0) were in town on January 2nd and the Americans came out with a 4-2 victory.
On Monday, the Bruins returned for their sixth meeting with the Americans. Great Falls is 2-3-1-0 against Missoula after today’s contest concluded.
Forward Pablo Frank helped guide the Missoula Junior Bruins to a 7-5 road win over the Great Falls Americans on Monday afternoon in Great Falls by securing three goals (hat trick) and assisting on two scoring opportunities. Missoula defeated Great Falls for the second time this weekend.
The fans watching on Hockey TV saw four goals scored in both the first and second stanzas. The Americans jumped out in front 2-0 for the first 15 minutes of the first period. Bryson Fletcher scored his ninth goal and Brindamour Beard added his second since joining the team this past week. Fletcher’s score went unassisted and Connor Doyle and Bryson Fletcher provided the assists on Great Falls’ second goal by Beard. Billings, Montana native Denim Young lit up the lamp for the visitors with 4:39 remaining off the stick of Mi-Kwan Tallman. Mason Mowat received the secondary assist. Garrett Weisenburger netted his fifth score of the year 81 seconds after the Bruins score to give the Americans a two-goal advantage (3-1) after the first twenty minutes. Connor Chesner and Hunter Maschke earned the assists.
Both Frontier Division squads each score twice after the first intermission. Alex Jackson scored during the first minute as AJ Benit and Cole Komarek set up the fourth goal for the home team. During a span of 92 seconds, Missoula pulled within one goal (4-3) as Owen Miley and Pablo Frank, both from Spokane Valley, Washington each registered a tally. Gavin Tritt, Liam Bland, Gabe Gifford, and Trevor Prince collected the assists. Bryson Fletcher scored for the tenth time this season on a penalty shot that occurred when Missoula received an infraction midway through the middle stanza as the American led again by two (5-3). Both teams skated the second half of the second frame without any successful scores.
The Bruins offense outscored the Americans 4-0 during the final frame. Pablo Frank garnered his second and third goals during a five-minute three goal tally. Mason Mowat and Levi Knight also scored for coach Emerson Etem’s team. Pablo Frank and Trevor Prince finished the period with two assists apiece while Liam Bland and Owen Miley accrued one. Knight’s empty net goal came during the final 56 seconds to end the contest.
Missoula took 19 shots in the third period to finish with 42. Great Falls attempted 26 of their 35 before the second intermission.
One of the Americans five goals came via the power play. Brindamour Beard’s goal with 6:30 remaining in the opening period came while Missoula was in the penalty box and down a man. The Bruins had four unsuccessful attempts while Great Falls was in the sin bin. Eleven minor penalties were called between the two hockey rivals.
Pablo Frank (3 goals, 2 assists), Mason Mowat and Owen Miley (1 goal, 1 assist each) helped lead Missoula to their 15th victory. Bryson Fletcher scored three points (2 goals, 1 assist) and was the team leader for Great Falls.
Despite Will Hays getting the start for the Bruins, Maxim Currie picked up the win for the third-place team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. Currie, hailing from St. Albert, Alberta, had 20 of the 30 saves, Hays redirected 10 of the 13 shots. Trever Mellen, who lost for the fourth time this season (14-4-0-0), recorded 35 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will have a tough task this upcoming weekend (January 8-9th) when the top-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks invade the Great Falls Ice Plex for a two-game series. The puck drops each night at 7:30PM on Friday and Saturday. This is the first of two back-to-back weekends that the Americans and Hawks meet on the ice. The following weekend (Jan. 15-16), Great Falls travels to Sheridan, WY for a pair of weekend games at the Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center.
Since spectators are still not yet allowed into the home games in Great Falls due to COVID-19 restrictions put in place by the Cascade County Health Board, HockeyTV is the only place to watch the Americans in action. If you would like more information about subscribing to Hockey TV (All Access), please click here.
Additional Media Coverage: January 5, 2021: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Mic’d up: Americans Head Coach Greg Sears (Video)
Ever wanted to know what Americans head coach Greg Sears is thinking about during a game? Now you can find out. Our media partner, ABC/FOX Montan Mic’d up Americans Head Coach Greg Sears during Monday’s contest against the Missoula Junior Bruins (January 4, 2021).