Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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SHERDIAN, Wyo., October 4, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans were off to a 4-1-0-0 start after the first three weeks of competition in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) before Friday’s road contest.
Great Falls, sitting in third place (behind the Bozeman Ice Dogs and Gillette Wild), in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division, played an unfamiliar opponent tonight when they faced the Sheridan Hawks, an inaugural junior hockey squad based in Sheridan, Wyoming. The Hawks, coached by Andy Scheib, were sitting at 0.500 with a record of 3-3-0-0. Sheridan won their first two games against the Butte Cobras before settling in for 1-3 record with two setbacks to the undefeated Bozeman Ice Dogs and one loss to Wyoming foe, the Yellowstone (Cody, WY) Quake and a win against the Gillette (WY) Wild.
Great Falls was looking for their fifth win in only their second road trip of the season.
The Sheridan Hawks held a 2-1 lead after the first stanza and shutout the visiting Great Falls Americans 4-0 over the last two periods to earn a 6-1 victory at the Whitney Rink in the M&M Center during Friday’s junior hockey action in Wyoming. Jonathon Teasdale added two goals while teammate Justin Schwartzmiller chipped in one goal and dished out three assists. Jake Hayes produced the lone goal for Great Falls.
The Sheridan Hawks took a 2-0 lead during the first eleven minutes of the first period. Both power play scoring opportunities were awarded to defenseman Alex Kesler and forward Jonathon Teasdale. Teasdale and Justin Schwartzmiller each received their fifth assist of the season on the first score while Teasdale’s score went unassisted. Before the period concluded, Hendrik Robel and Ivan Royo slapped the puck to Alaska native Jake Hayes, who lit up the lamp with 4:09 remaining as the Americans cut the lead in half. Sheridan built a 15-11 advantage in the shots-on-goal category against the Americans.
During the following period, the Hawks offense racked up three more goals to take a 5-1 commanding lead. Jonathan Teasdale scored his second goal in as many periods for coach Andy Scheib’s first-year squad 52 seconds into the middle stanza while Justin Schwartzmiller chipped in the fourth goal for the host team with 7:27 on the clock. Kolten Wright, one of six Wisconsin natives on the Wyoming junior hockey team roster, secured his third score in seven games with 55 seconds left before the second intermission. North Dakota native Logan Syrup and Wisconsin product Justin Schwartzmiller provided the assists on the fifth successful power play opportunity. The Hawks out-shot the Americans 17-7 in the period and took 32 total shots while Great Falls took just seven after taking 11 shots in the opening period.
Great Falls’ offense couldn’t get going and allowed a sixth goal by Sheridan two minutes into the final period. Sheridan native Sandis Cook found Minnesota native Trevor Timm in what would be the final tally of the game.
The first encounter by these two club saw 38 minutes of penalty time accumulated with 19 total penalties assessed. The Hawks recorded their first five scoring opportunities while Great Falls was in the penalty box. The home team finished 5-for-7 while Great Falls could not get the biscuit in the basket in five attempts while Sheridan was down a man.
Zach Hearn got the start for Sheridan and earned his fourth win in seven games. The Illinois netminder stopped 28 of the 29 shots on the night. Viktor Wennberg of Great Falls suffered his first setback in four games. The top goaltender played the first two periods amassed 27 saves before backup Trevor Mellen was inserted into the contest for the final stanza. The first-year Great Falls American finished with 12 saves.
The Hawks have now won four of their seven games while Great Falls is now at 4-2 after the setback.
NEXT CONTEST: The second game of their two-game road trip against the Sheridan Hawks is set for 7:00PM on Saturday, October 5th from Whitney Rink in the M&M Center in Wyoming. Fans can catch the contest with the NA3HL’s subscription streaming service at HockeyTV.