By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., June 7, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans, proud members of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) are pleased to announce a sixth member of the 2018-19 Americans squad has committed to play college hockey in Iowa.
Payton McSharry, a forward who played the past two seasons for the Great Falls Americans, signed his letter of commitment recently to continue his education and showcase his hockey skills at Iowa State University beginning in the fall of 2019.
The 6’2” Anchorage, Alaska product played in 88 regular season contests over the past two seasons for the Americans Junior A squad including three games as a member of the Frontier Division at the Top Prospects Tournament this season in Massachusetts. He also played in six Fraser Cup playoff contests in 2019 and two playoff appearances in 2018. The 2018-19 team finished with 41 overall victories in 53 games.
The Iowa State University Cyclones, coached by Jason Fairman, play Division 1 hockey level hockey in the Central States Collegiate Hockey League (CSCHL) of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Four other schools make up the CSCHL including the Lindenwood University (St. Charles, Missouri) Lions, the Ohio University (Athens, OH) Bobcats, the Robert Morris University (Chicago, IL) Eagles and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini located in Champaign, Illinois. The Iowa college also has a Division II team.
The Cyclones use the 1,000-seat Ames/ISU Arena for their home games in Ames, Iowa, about 37 miles from Iowa’s state capital in Des Moines. Iowa’s largest university offers over 100 Bachelor’s degree programs, 112 Masters programs, and 83 Ph. D programs. Although he is uncertain about a college major, he does want to pursue a business-related degree.
McSharry led Great Falls this season in points scored with 90 including 48 goals in 47 regular season appearances. During the 2019 NA3HL playoffs, Payton accumulated five goals and dished out three assists in two playoff series (6 games) against the Bozeman Ice Dogs and the Helena Bighorns. He was also 11th in the league in points and was one of four Great Falls Americans (Viktor Wennberg, Jens Juliussen and Nate Simpson) that were selected for the Frontier Division team at the 2019 Top Prospects Tournament in February in Attleboro, Massachusetts along with Americans mentor Greg Sears assisting Bob Richards of the Helena Bighorns.
The NA3HL announced in April that the Iowa-bound freshman was one of six players to make the All-Frontier Division team and was named to the All-NA3HL Third team (see story).
“I am entering college as a rookie and it will be fun and an excellent learning experience playing with the upperclassmen in a faster-paced and more physical environment,” said the former Americans standout when asked what he looks forward to most when playing at the collegiate level.
The future Iowa State freshman was very enthusiastic about the two head coaches he played under while in Great Falls. McSharry played with both Jeff Heimel for 1 ½ seasons and this past season with Greg Sears.
“(Jeff) Heimel did a really good job of setting the standard for a winning culture with the Americans and he found a great replacement in (Greg) Sears,” said McSharry in a phone interview. “I can’t thank them both enough for what they did for my career especially the (Iowa State) opportunity.”
“Payton had a tremendous season for us. He was heavily recruited which gave him a chance to pick a college that he was excited about,” said Great Falls Americans Head Coach and General Manager Greg Sears. “Iowa State is a great program and will be a great fit for Payton. Payton’s size and speed should help him be an impact player at the college level right away. Payton has worked very hard for this opportunity. We are very proud of him.”
McSharry also played 19 games for the Missoula (MT) Junior Bruins during the 2017-18 season before coming to Great Falls in a trade and three years at South Anchorage High School in Alaska.
Earlier in the off-season, McSharry’s teammates Nate Simpson, Jens Juliussen and Sean McLean all signed with Maryville University in Missouri while Great Falls native Cam McIntosh will begin his college career at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota.
Payton McSharry’s career statistics for the Great Falls Americans can be found by clicking here.
Click here for a full listing of NA3HL college commitments.
Additional Media Coverage: June 8, 2019: Great Falls Tribune: McSharry to play college hockey at Iowa State this winter
Additional Media Coverage: June 10, 2019: North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL): Great Falls forward McSharry makes college commitment