Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
BOZEMAN, Mont., February 1, 2020 — The Great Falls Americans (27-8-4-0) came into their weekend road finale against the Bozeman Ice Dogs (32-6-0-1) ready to upend the top team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division on Saturday night in Bozeman, Montana.
Prior to tonight’s clash, the Great Falls Americans lost all four of their head-to-head meetings against their Montana foes. All four matchups from the season came in the month of January with three of the four played at Bozeman’s Haynes Pavilion. The Ice Dogs put up 17 goals against the Americans and allowed Great Falls to score just six.
On Friday (January 31st), the Americans trailed throughout and fell 5-1 with Braydon Rachow adding the lone goal for Great Falls in the second period.
During Saturday’s contest, it was déjà vu for coach Greg Sears’ third ranked Great Falls squad. Same score, different night.
In a junior hockey game that saw lots of penalties, the #1 Bozeman Ice Dogs scored three of their five goals during the last period of regulation to easily defeat the #3 Great Falls Americans 5-1 to extend their winning streak to four games during Saturday’s NA3HL action in Bozeman, Montana.
Despite Great Falls beginning the second game of their weekend series against Bozeman with 14-13 shots-on-goal, they still trailed the Ice Dogs 1-0 after twenty minutes of action on the ice. Bozeman forward Duncan McGarrah scored the game’s first goal 14 minutes into the period. Tadeas Aulehla, one of three international players for coach Elliot Bates’ squad, chipped in his ninth assist with his pass to McGarrah, who registered his 20th goal. Luke McKay also was credited with an assist. The quick first period saw just one minor penalty by Great Falls that resulted in the first goal accrued by the Ice Dogs.
The visiting team kept up the pace and evened up the score (1-1) six minutes into the middle stanza as Harley Nyhuis and Luke Richesin each earned assists on Bryson Fletcher’s 13th goal in 36 appearances. Before the second intermission, the Ice Dogs racked up their second goal as Cooper Walsh lit up the lamp thanks to assists by Luke McKay and Kadyn Fennell while the visiting team was down a man. Great Falls took 19 of the 27 shots but could only gather one scoring opportunity.
The third period belonged to the Ice Dogs offensive attack. Hazen McKay, Kadyn Fennell, and Luke Hartge all netted goals. Alaska’s Zach Monaco had two assists in the period while Duncan McGarrah, Luke and Hazen McKay and Will Kutch each contributed one assist apiece. Fennell’s fifth goal came via their third successful power play chance. Hartge’s tally came in the final 49 seconds as Great Falls pulled their goaltender to add another offensive weapon.
Bozeman’s 32nd victory came as Great Falls piled up 26 more shot attempts (57-31) than the home team.
The third frame provided plenty of fireworks for both squads. Nine players saw their night cut short due to fighting which resulted in ejections. The fierce opponents each had 16 infractions and a combined total of 253 minutes of penalty time. The 2-hour, 30-minute rivalry game saw 30% of the power plays converted into scores (3-for-10). The Americans went 0-for-5.
Despite his ejection late in the third period, Conan Hayton got his fourth consecutive win (14th overall) behind the net for the Ice Dogs. Brandon Keeney came in relief and stopped all ten shots in the last 8:36. Hayton and Keeney combined for 56 saves. Great Falls started Matt Maniglia, a Brooklyn, New York native, who played in just his second game for Great Falls. He recorded 26 saves in his first loss.
NEXT CONTEST: The next two weekends will be spent in the state of Wyoming. First, the Great Falls Americans will travel to Sheridan to face the #2 Hawks next weekend (February 7-8th). The team will then be in Cody, Wyoming to face the Yellowstone Quake on February 14th and 15th. Tune in to HockeyTV to catch all of the action from Wyoming.