By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., February 16, 2019 — The #1 Great Falls Americans (36-7-0-1) blanked the #7 Yellowstone (WY) Quake 5-0 on Friday night in Great Falls as the Americans won their fifth straight game against the Quake (3-36-2-0) and 35th overall including the last 14 straight games.
Payton McSharry tossed in two goals and goaltender Drew Scites stopped all 18 shots taken by the Yellowstone offense in the victory.
The Great Falls Americans rang up five goals on Saturday evening against the last-place Yellowstone Quake and went on to sweep the weekend home series by posting a 5-1 win at the Great Falls Ice Plex in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 856 in a snowy and cold day in Great Falls.
The scoreless opening period was broke when Jack Olson and Ben Rinckey provided the assists on Hendrik Robel’s third goal of the season with 9:35 left in the first stanza. Four minutes later, the Americans collected their second score of the night when Justin Ohnstad found the back of the net with helpers coming from George Nuutinen and Jack Olson who received his 32nd assist for coach Greg Sears’ squad on the successful power play opportunity. The host team attempted 25 shots while scoring two goals and the defense never allowed Yellowstone to get anywhere near the goal (0 shots).
Just like the first period, no scores were reported during the first half of the middle period. Levi Mese answered by scoring the first two goals of the second period to give the Americans a 4-0 lead. Four Americans were credited with assists including Luke Richesin, Justin Ohnstad, Brody Boyce and Blake Nerney. Mese’s second goal came with 4:29 left before the second intermission and was quickly followed (25 seconds later) by Payton McSharry’s shot that lit up the lamp. Luke Richesin picked up his second assist in the period and Cody Dearing registered his 28th of the season. The Americans offense piled up 25 shots while Yellowstone managed to put up four.
Yellowstone’s Nick Castro eliminated Great Falls’ chance of a shutout when his score over Americans netminder Cam McIntosh five minutes into the period gave the visiting team their first (and only) goal in the two-game weekend series. The power play score came off the stick of Will Yates.
After taking 79 shots during Friday’s performance, Great Falls added 65 during Saturday’s contest with the Quake acquiring nine.
Great Falls and Yellowstone each converted one power play for a score. The sixty-minute game saw each team accrue 6 penalties apiece and a total of 32 minutes in the sin bin.
Great Falls native Cam McIntosh got the start for the Americans. He swatted away eight of nine shots and ensured Great Falls tasted their 36th overall win in front of the home fans. Logan Cooksy allowed five goals including three in the second period for the Wyoming club. The Minnesota native who came over after four games with the Wisconsin Whalers, finished with 60 saves.
The first-place Americans maintained a five-point advantage (73-68) over second-place Helena (Bighorns) in the Frontier Division standings as Helena downed the Missoula Junior Bruins Saturday night in Missoula, 7 to 0. Third place Bozeman edged the Bighorns on Friday night, 4-3.
Great Falls has three more regular season contests remaining in the final three weeks of the season before the playoffs begin. They will face Bozeman (Ice Dogs) and Helena (Bighorns) on the road and will finish out the regular season at the Great Falls Ice Plex with a game against the Butte Cobras on March 9th.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will meet the Bozeman Ice Dogs on Friday, February 22nd for a 7:30PM contest from Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana. But before that contest, the NA3HL has their annual NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament in Attleboro, Massachusetts on February 18th-19th. The two-day all-star format will feature each division playing three games (two games on Monday followed by a single game on Tuesday). Great Falls will be represented by three players and a coach. Payton McSharry, Jens Juliussen, and Nate Simpson will suit up for the Frontier Division with Americans head coach Greg Sears announced recently as an assistant coach to Helena Bighorns coach Bob Richards for the Frontier Division.
Additional Media Coverage: February 17, 2019: Great Falls Tribune: Americans win 15th straight by pounding Yellowstone