By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., February 19, 2021 — The second-ranked Great Falls Americans (20-11-1-0, 41 pts.) have an unblemished record when they have encountered the #8 Butte Cobras (6-23-3-1, 16 pts.) in their six regular season contests so far during the 2020-21 season.
Two of those games were not decided in regulation but in an overtime and in a shootout. On November 27th, Great Falls took a 3-2 victory on home ice as Connor Doyle provided the game-winning score seven seconds into the extra period. During the January 23rd contest, Great Falls and Butte were tied after the five-minute overtime and outscored the Cobras 2-1 in the shootout with Alex Jackson and Connor Doyle provided both successful goals for Great Falls. The Americans outscored the Cobras 31-8 during their head-to-head matchups this season. Great Falls has won by as many as seven goals twice this season.
The Great Falls Americans picked up their 20th victory of the season by posting a 5-2 win over the Butte Cobras for their seventh straight win over their Montana rival on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex in front of a great crowd of 645 in Great Falls. Many fans were allowed entrance into the game for the first time this season.
Both teams were determined to get the puck in the net early in the first period but only the Americans were able to successfully convert. The Americans scored two goals during the final 3:36 of the period. Connor Chesner and Harley Nyhuis scored their third and eighth goal of the season, respectively with Micah Serino, Cole Komarek, Garret Weisenburger, and Tyler Lorring earning the assists. Great Falls outshot the visiting team from Butte, 21-13.
The Americans offense lit up the lamp again six minutes into the second frame with Jackson Henningsgard coming away with his first goal in his second game for the Americans after coming over from the St. Louis Jr. Blues in a trade on February 9th. In his first game last Saturday in Butte, he garnered one assist in the 4-1 victory over the Cobras. The Americans third tally was assisted by Alex Jackson and Tyler Lorring, who picked up his second assist of the game and tenth overall. The puck stayed with the home team as they finished the twenty-minute second period by taking 19 of the 23 shots-on-goal.
The Cobras struck first during the first 91 seconds of the final period of regulation to cut their deficit to 3-1. Defenseman Luke Schlensner secured his fourth goal of the season for the visiting squad off the stick of Alaska native Bradly Burden. The Americans rebounded later in the period to capture their fourth goal of the night and the second score of the game by newcomer Jackson Henningsgard with assistance from Lucas Gudz and Alex Jackson. Two minutes later, the Americans held their biggest lead of the night when Hunter Maschke and Henry Chavez found Kellen Harris for the score over Butte goaltender Griffen McAndrews to increase the lead to 5-1 while the Cobras were in the penalty box. The Cobras attempted a (failed) comeback by scoring their second goal via the Montana connection of Helena’s Randy Yeakley’s feed to Butte’s Robin Bagley. The power play goal came with 2:17 remaining.
Great Falls had six minor penalties and one major that resulted in 22 minutes spent off the ice. The Cobras recorded four minor penalties that came during the end of the second and beginning of the third resulting in eight minutes spent in the sin bin. Kellen Harris (Great Falls) and Robin Bagley (Butte) each successfully scored on the power play for their respective teams during the third stanza.
The Americans were led by a trio of players with Jackson Henningsard chipping in two goals while Alex Jackson and Tyler Lorring each assisting on two scoring opportunities. Luke Schlensner and Robin Bagley each scored for the visitors.
Ben Winkler got the start and his second win since coming to the Americans on January 28th from the NA3HL’s St. Louis Jr. Blues. The Illinois product had 30 saves. Griffen McAndews of Buffalo, New York swatted away 52 of the 57 shots sent his way in the loss. He lost for the second time in three games for coach Chris Shadow’s eighth place squad.
NOTES: The Americans moved up to second place temporarily after the Missoula Junior Bruins (19-11-2-0, 40 pts.) fell to the top-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks (28-1-0-0, 56 pts.), 6-4 at the Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center during Friday’s action in Wyoming.
Zack Hatton was added to the roster today as the fourth netminder on the roster. He served as the backup goaltender tonight but didn’t see any action. The 5’10”, 185 lbs. is from Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Also, there were two additional road games added to the schedule this week. On Friday, February 26th, the Great Falls Americans will be on the road in Missoula, Montana where they will face the Junior Bruins for a 5:30PM (MST) faceoff from the Glacier Ice Rink. The Americans and Bruins will also renew their rivalry on Saturday, March 20th in Missoula with the game set for 4:00PM (MST) start. Both games were made due to cancellations early in the season. Click here to view the revised printable schedule.
NEXT CONTEST: The Bozeman Ice Dogs will be in town for the final time during the 2020-21 NA3HL regular season on Saturday, February 20th for a 7:30PM (MST) start from the Great Falls Ice Plex. Great Falls will make the trip over to Missoula, Montana to challenge the Junior Bruins on Friday, February 26th starting at 5:30PM from the Glacier Ice Rink. The following Saturday (February 27th), Great Falls will play their home season finale against the Helena Bighorns at 7:30PM. HockeyTV will provide the streaming coverage for all three contests.
Additional Media Coverage: February 19, 2021: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Friday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.