Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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BUTTE, Mont., October 24, 2019 — In their first two meetings on the ice back in September, the Great Falls Americans (9-2-1-0), Great Falls held the Butte Cobras (0-13-0-0) to just two goals in each game while outscoring them 14-4.
Since their matchups in late September, the Americans have gone 5-1-1 while Butte suffered eight consecutive losses.
Great Falls has won two games against one of the three Wyoming NA3HL members (Yellowstone Quake), Sheridan (1-1), and won two of three from the Helena Bighorns (2-0-1). The Cobras, under the guidance of head coach Chris Shadow, went 0-4 to the Gillette (WY) Wild, lost both games against the Sheridan (WY) Hawks followed by one loss each to the top-ranked Bozeman Ice Dogs and Missoula Jr. Bruins.
The Americans tried to find a way to get their ninth win of the season on Thursday night in Butte.
The Great Falls Americans offensive attack led by Jake Hayes’ two goals took a 5-2 lead over the winless Butte Cobras before the second intermission and went on to defeat the eighth place team in the Frontier Division, 7-2 in front of a sparse crowd at the Butte Community Ice Center during Thursday’s lone contest in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL).
The Americans raced out to a 2-0 advantage within the first three minutes of the first period. Ivan Royo netted his first goal during the opening 65 seconds off the sticks of Dylan Olson and Brody Boyce. Jake Hayes, the leading goal scorer for Great Falls, was set up by assist leader, Jack Olson, and Henry Chavez 87 seconds after the first scoring opportunity by Royo. The Cobras cut into the Americans lead (2-1) later in the stanza. Forward Nick Bradshaw put the puck between the pipes for the host team with Butte on the power play. Defenseman Hunter Varney and forward Ty Stovin delivered the assists on Butte’s only scoring drive of the period. Jake Hayes recorded his second goal of the evening and helped the visiting squad regain their two-goal advantage. Jack Olson achieved his 17th assist and Logan Rachow (6th assist) before the period concluded. A high number of shots were taken with the Americans attempting 28 of the 51 shots-on-goal.
Great Falls extended their lead with Harley Nyhuis’ goal during the middle of the second stanza. Brody Boyce and Bryson Fletcher created the assists on the fourth goal for the third-place team in the Frontier Division. Later, Butte and Great Falls would trade goals. Missoula, Montana native Max Triepke scored his first goal in a Cobras uniform with help from Ty Stovin and Noah Williamson with 9:13 left before the second intermission. The fifth goal for the Americans was scored by Bryson Fletcher and the California forward increased the lead (5-2) for his team. The final goal was assisted by Harley Nyhuis and Ivan Royo with 6:30 left. The American doubled up the shots on the Cobras defense, 31-15.
The third period saw two goals that occurred during the first five minutes. Returning players, Hendrik Robel and Levi Mese each scored during a 30-second span early in the period for coach Greg Sears’ squad. Mese picked up his sixth assist on Robel’s score while Kellen Harris accrued his eighth assist and Logan Rachow added his second assist of the game on Mese’s seventh score of the season. Harris was also credited with an assist on the Mese tally. Both defenses held up as the last 15 minutes went scoreless.
The number of infractions and the penalty minutes were even with each squad obtaining four penalties for 26 minutes in the sin bin. Butte scored one of their two goals via the power play while Great Falls never had a power play opportunity.
Great Falls out-shot Butte in each of the (3) 20-minute periods to end the night with 95 including 36 in the third period. After taking 23 shots in the first period, the Cobras never attempted more than 15 and concluded with 47.
Trever Mellen achieved his third win in five games (3-1-1) for the Americans. The first-year goaltender from Minnesota had 45 saves. Colton Marcy played the entire contest in the net for Butte, who was trying to pick up their first victory, accumulated 88 saves in his seventh setback.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will play their ninth home contest in 13 games of the season when the Missoula Junior Bruins visit the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday, October 26th with the puck set to drop at 3:00PM. If you can’t make it to the game, watch the stream online at HockeyTV.