Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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SHERIDAN, Wyo., February 7, 2020 — The Great Falls Americans, currently sitting in third place with a record of 27-9-4-0 after having already clinched one of the playoff berths in next month’s Frontier Divisional playoffs, haven’t been able to match the success of the #2 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (32-7-1-0), the inaugural club in the Frontier Division this season, who have also qualified for postseason action in March.
The Americans are 1-2-2-0 against the Wyoming team this season as they each have hosted a two-game series in their facility. The weekend of October 4th and 5th saw the Americans play the Hawks for the first time at the Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center where each team came away with a victory. Great Falls trailed 2-1 after the first period and then were outscored 4-0 in the second and third periods to fall to the Hawks, 6-1. The following evening (October 5th), Great Falls scored twice in the final two periods to pull out a 4-0 shutout victory.
Seven weeks later, the two teams tangled on the ice in Great Falls, Montana with both contests at the Great Falls Ice Plex much closer than their first weekend in October. Both games were won in an extra period by the visiting Hawks (3-2 and 5-4). At that point of the season, the Americans lost their fourth and fifth contests but have since bounced back and won 11 of their 18 games (6-1-0 at home, 5-5-1 on the road).
Since November 23rd when both teams faced each other, Sheridan went 14-3 including 5-0 on home ice.
Coach Greg Sears’ team was looking for their second victory versus the Hawks and 11th overall road win on Friday evening.
The Sheridan Hawks needed just four goals in the second period to pick up their 32nd victory over the visiting Great Falls Americans during Friday’s junior hockey contest in Wyoming. The 4-2 win kept the Sheridan Hawks two points (67-65) behind the Frontier Division leading Bozeman Ice Dogs, who defeated the Missoula Junior Bruins, 3-2 on Friday evening in Bozeman, Montana. Tommy Janes and Luke Richesin scored both goals for the Montana team.
Great Falls has gone 0-4 in the last two weekends of action with three of those losses coming from the top team in the Frontier Division, the Bozeman Ice Dogs.
A total of 27 shots were taken during the first period between these two junior hockey clubs but neither team was able to capitalize on any scoring opportunities.
A flurry of goals were made during the middle period; five to be exact. Trever Timm got the scoring going for the Hawks 6:38 into the stanza. Forwards Kolten Wright and Jonathon Teasdale created the first of their two assists of the night on the short-handed score for the host team. Great Falls tied the contest up at 1-1 less than two minutes after Sheridan lit up the lamp. Tommy Janes, Henry Chavez and Nick Silance took advantage of penalty by the Hawks to score over Sheridan’s James Downie. Janes’ third score in his career with Great Falls came off a pass from Chavez and Silance. After the score, Great Falls’ defense allowed three goals by Sheridan during a four-minute scoring spree before the second intermission concluded. Jonathon Teasdale, Alex Kesler, and Mike Kocsis each tallied a goal for coach Andy Scheib’s squad. Scheib will be the head coach for the Frontier Division’s squad at the 2020 NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament taking place on February 17th and 18th in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Trevor Timm, Jack Royer, Gavin Miller, Blake Billings, and Kolten Wright added the assists. Two of the three goals scored by the Hawks came while the Americans were in the penalty box. Great Falls was able to take one more shot (33-32) than Sheridan after the first forty minutes.
One of Great Falls’ ten shots-on-goal in the third frame was successful. Defenseman Luke Richesin of Clovis, California rounded up his first goal of the season on the only scoring play with 6:56 remaining in the final period. Both teams skated out the remaining time without adding to the scoreboard.
The Hawks led in the shots-on-goal category in the second and third periods to finish with 48. Great Falls, who fell for the 13th time in 40 games, took a team-high 18 shots in the middle period to end the first of their two games in Sheridan with 43 shots.
The crowd at the M&M Center witnessed 15 total penalties resulting in 30 minutes of time in the sin bin. Sheridan scored on two back-to-back goals on the power play while Great Falls’ Tommy Janes was successful on the Americans’ lone power play opportunity.
Australian netminder James Downie picked up his 17th victory of the season (17-5-1) for the second-place team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. Downie came over in the middle of September after playing four games with the Louisiana Drillers of the NA3HL’s South Division. Great Falls standout goaltender, Viktor Wennberg got his first start in two weeks. The Sweden native suffered just his sixth setback of the season (18-5-1) while gathering 25 saves and allowing all four goals. Vincent Marroni, playing his first season for the Americans, stopped all 19 shots after replacing Wennberg in the second period.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will remain in Sheridan, Wyoming for the final regular season contest against the Hawks. The action begins at 7:00PM and can be seen on HockeyTV for paid subscribers to the NA3HL’s streaming service.