By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
BOZEMAN, Mont., January 23, 2022 — The #3 Great Falls Americans (19-13-3-2) have not been able to match the #4 Bozeman Ice Dogs (19-14-3-1) record this season when they faced off against each other.
In their four previous meetings this season, the Americans have only had one win against them (1-1-0-2) with one game left after today’s contest. That victory came last Sunday (January 16) when they scored twice in the third to pull out a 3-1 win in Bozeman (game story). Two of the three losses came during a shootout where the Ice Dogs bested the Americans. In the Americans third game of the season on September 18th, Great Falls lost 4-3 in a shootout (game story) in Bozeman and on January 15th in Great Falls, the Americans and Ice Dogs couldn’t score in overtime as Bozeman had more success in the shootout and won 5-4 (game story). Great Falls’ lone regulation setback came on October 29th where Bozeman defeating Great Falls, 6-4 (game story).
After the Americans swept the #6 Badlands Sabres in both games at home this weekend, Great Falls was trying to win their fourth consecutive game since their win streak started with Bozeman on January 16th.
The Great Falls Americans led 3-0 after the first period and hung on to take a 5-3 victory over the Bozeman Ice Dogs to overtake the Ice Dogs for third place in the Frontier Division standings during Sunday’s NA3HL junior hockey action at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana. Silas Hughes sparked Great Falls with two goals and goaltender Will Simpson stopped 24 of the 27 shots.
Micah Serino, Silas Hughes, and Blake Nerney all scored during the opening period to take the three-goal lead into the locker room for the first intermission. Nerney netted his second goal this season near the end of the frame. Hunter Maschke and Daniel Crutcher had two assists with AJ Benit and Micah Serino being credited with one apiece. Great Falls outshot Bozeman 31-9 and held the host team to no goals.
The second period also saw three goals scored but Bozeman cut the deficit to 4-2 by scoring twice. Clayton Brown answered the call for the Ice Dogs with two goals. Ian Bowman and Grayden Pond earned both assists on Brown’s first and second goals. Bowman is currently tied for fifth place with Helena’s Samuel Feamster in the NA3HL in points scored with 65. Before Brown scored his first goal for the Ice Dogs, the Americans lit up the lamp when Silas Hughes recorded his second scoring drive of the game on a play that was made possible by Jackson Henningsgard and Tyler Sunagel. Henningsgard, a returning player from the 2020-21 season, leads the Americans in assists made (27) and points with 42. Great Falls attempted 43 shots after two periods and Bozeman had ten of their nineteen before the second intermission.
Bozeman needed just 46 seconds of the third period to cut the Americans lead to 4-3 with Luke Hartmark’s score. Nate Brunelle and Nick Smith assisted on Bozeman’s third scoring drive. Great Falls kept their lead intact and added one final goal with 1:58 to go to complete the three-game weekend sweep. Bryson Fletcher and Thomas Dalsin assisted on Thomas Gazich’s 20th goal to ensure the victory.
Great Falls finished with 50 shots in their fifth contest with Bozeman with 31 being taken in the first period. Bozeman had ten of their 27 shots-on-goal in the middle period.
Great Falls committed seven of the nineteen total penalties in the game with 14 minutes spent off the ice. Both teams did not take advantage of their combined ten power play chances that could have resulted in more goals on the scoreboard.
Silas Hughes (Great Falls) and Clayton Brown (Bozeman) led their respective teams by scoring two goals each. Hunter Maschke and Daniel Crutcher (Great Falls) and Ian Bowman and Grayden Pond made two assists each.
The winning goalie was Great Falls’ Will Simpson (8-5-0-2), who added two more victories to his resume. He had 24 saves while allowing three goals (all after the first period). The Ice Dogs utilized two goaltenders on Sunday. Collin Soderholm started the game and accumulated 16 saves before leaving in the first stanza. Backup Cameron Milewski, who joined Bozeman’s NA3HL franchise on January 8th, let his record fall to 2-2-0-0 after four contests. He had 29 saves in the second and third periods.
NOTE: The win by Great Falls (momentarily) put them one point (43-42) ahead of Bozeman for third place behind the #1 Gillette (WY) Wild (33-3-1-0, 67 points) and #2 Helena Bighorns (32-2-2-0, 66 points), who both officially clinched playoffs berths this week.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will be at home to challenge the #2 Helena Bighorns on Friday, January 28th for a 7:30PM (MST) at the Great Falls Ice Plex. On Saturday (January 29th), Great Falls will make the trip to the Helena, Montana to face their rivals with the game time set for 7:05PM (MST) from the Helena Ice Arena.
The Americans will be road warriors for most of February. Great Falls will have one more weekend of home games (Feb. 25-26) remaining in the 2021-22 NA3HL regular season when they host the Yellowstone (WY) Quake. Click here to view the complete schedule. Coverage of all home and away games are on HockeyTV.