Americans pull off upset over #1 Gillette in a shootout

NOTE: A Special Thanks to Kandi Rasmussen for providing the photos 

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 18, 2022 — The Great Falls Americans, who are sitting in fifth place in the eight-team NA3HL Frontier Division with a record of 9-8-0-0, were looking to redeem themselves after a rough two game series during the October 21-22 weekend against tonight’s opponent, the top-ranked Gillette (WY) Wild (16-1-0-2).

Great Falls and Gillette played earlier in October with the Wild getting the better of the home team in both contests to sweep the weekend series. Great Falls and Gillette were tied at 2-2 after the first period in their October 21st showdown before the Wild’s offense scored seven of the nine goals to pick up a 9-4 decision. Sky Solig scored twice and dished out two assists while netminder Jake Turek stopped 25 shots for the Wyoming NA3HL club. Dawson Bunch had one goal and one assist and teammate William Fallman had two assists for the Americans in the loss (game story). The following night in their second meeting, Jace Johnson scored two of the five goals for Gillette as they went on to defeat Great Falls, 5-1. Dominic Hite picked up the win in the net for former Great Falls Americans Associate Coach and current Gillette Wild Head Coach Ethan Hayes’ squad by swatting away 27 of the 28 shots sent his way. Baden Powell and Silas Hughes earned the assist on Matt Ramstad’s lone goal in the first stanza for Great Falls. Great Falls goalie Josh Koziol went 0-for-2 on the weekend and combined for 82 saves (game story).

The #5 Great Falls Americans gave the top-ranked Gillette Wild all that they could handle on the ice on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Americans earned the 4-3 upset win in a shootout over one of the top teams in the North American 3 Hockey League thanks to shootout goals by William Fallman and Silas Hughes.

All active and retired military members from the Montana Air National Guard and Malmstrom Air Force Base received FREE admission into Friday’s contest as part of the Americans promotional night with First Liberty Federal Credit Union. Click here for a list of the Americans promotional nights.

Great Falls took advantage and scored the first goal of the game 7:40 into the first stanza. A pass from Jace Thompson and Tyler Sunagel to Baden Powell, who buried the puck in the net over Gillette goaltender Dominic Hite, put the home team out in front, 1-0. Gillette’s Johan Palmqvist, a native of Sweden, added the equalizer with two minutes remaining with the Americans in the penalty box. Minnesota forwards Isaac Young and Wylee Gladen provided the assists. Both squads scored once and combined for 29 shots-on-goal.

The visitors needed 51 seconds of the middle period to find the back of the net and break the tie (2-1). Anthony Foster collected his first assist (13th overall) of the contest when his pass to Sky Solig, whose shot lit up the lamp for the division leaders from Wyoming. Defenseman Todd Powassin made the secondary assist. Three minutes later and the Americans chipped in their second goal to even the score. Jace Thompson netted his seventh goal on a power play with helpers coming from William Fallman and Ben Cremers. Before the period concluded, Garrett Weisenburger gave the Americans their second lead of the contest (3-2) with his unassisted tally occurring with 3:59 left while the Wild were down a man (penalty). This was Great Falls’ second power play scoring drive of the period. Although the Americans outshot the Wild, 13-10 in the period, Gillette maintained a 31-21 advantage before the second intermission.

The contest became tied (3-3) midway through the third period as Jace Johnson connected on his 22nd goal of the year while Isaac Young chipped in his 28th assist and Wylee Gladen received his seventh. Young is second in points scored for the Wild and the team assist leader with 28. Gillette’s third successful power play opportunity came with 18:08 shown on the game clock.

The final eleven minutes ticked off the clock without either team scoring so a five-minute three-on-three overtime was necessary. Despite six shot attempts, Gillette and Great Falls failed to find the back of the net and a shootout was needed.

During the shootout, Isaac Young, Anthony Foster and Jace Johnson all went one-on-one with Americans netminder Josh Koziol with only Foster lighting up the lamp. Great Falls had William Fallman and Silas Hughes take successful shots over Gillette goalie Dominic Hite with Hughes’ goal becoming the eventual game-winner.

Jace Thompson accrued one goal and one assist and goaltender Josh Koziol prevented 51 of the 54 shots from going into the net for the winning team. William Fallman and Silas Hughes were responsible for the two successful scoring drives in the shootout that gave the Americans their ninth victory. Meanwhile, Johan Palmqvist, Jace Johnson, and Sky Solig each scored, and Wylee Gladen and Isaac Young assisted on two of three scoring plays for the Wild.

Great Falls had a team-high of 13 shots in the second period that resulted in 32 for the game. Despite the loss, Gillette tallied three goals and took 54 shots.

Power play chances were a key factor in scoring for both squads. Five of the seven total goals scored came while the opposing team was in the sin bin. Gillette went 3-for-6 and Great Falls finished with a 2-for-3 performance. The NA3HL contest saw twelve minor penalties with most of them taking place in the middle period.

Josh Koziol (Great Falls) and Dominic Hite (Gillette) each got the start and played the entire game for their respective clubs. Koziol (6-7-0-0), who recorded his sixth win in 13 games for coach Greg Sears’ team, finished with 51 saves. Hite (4-0-0-1), a Wisconsin native, took his first shootout loss of the season by accumulating 28 saves, fell for the first time in six appearances for the Wild.

NOTES: The Buffalo Wild Wings location in Great Falls is showing all the Great Falls Americans games that occur for the rest of the 2022-23 season in their restaurant. Please stop by their location at 117 Northwest Bypass and grab your favorite beverage, food and join your friends and show your support by watching the home and away contests while enjoying some excellent food.

Earlier this week, the Great Falls Americans took time away from the hockey rink to help the Great Falls Uptown Optimist Club by helping them set up for their annual Christmas Tree sale set to go on at Montana ExpoPark to the public at 9:00AM (MST) on Friday, November 25th. The Great Falls Optimist Club sells the trees each year. Click here to see the photo gallery from the tree set up in the 2022-23 Photo Gallery.

Also, Americans forward Garrett Weisenburger played in his 100th game in his Great Falls Americans career after the road games last weekend (November 11-12) against the Sheridan (WY) Hawks.

Garrett has scored 15 goals and made 27 assists overall in his third season with the club.

Congrats Garrett!!

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: The #2 Helena Bighorns (13-4-1-1) started the season strong but fell for the second straight week as the #3 Butte Cobras (10-8-1-0) downed the Bighorns, 4-3 during junior hockey action at the Butte Community Ice Center on Friday evening. Helena claimed a 3-1 lead after two periods but were outscored by the host team, 3-0 over the final twenty minutes for their sixth loss of the season (13-4-1-1). Nick Bradshaw (1 goal, 2 assists) and Tamer Billman (2 goals) led the way in Butte’s victory. Tyler Allredge scored twice and Darby McCarthy once for the visitors (box score).

A total of twelve goals were scored during the Sheridan Hawks vs. Badlands (SD) Sabres regular season contest on Friday. The #4 Hawks (10-8-1-0) won their tenth game thanks to Caleb Murray (2 goals), Josh Humphreys (2 goals, 1 assist), and Ryan McKenna and Danny Shelden each scoring once and dishing out two assists in their 8-4 home victory. Jack Wood tallied 36 saves in the win. Four different scorers led the #7 Sabres (5-11-2-1) including Izaiah Phillips, Keenan Howard, Carter Johnson and AJ Petrotto (box score).

The #6 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (6-10-2-1) led 2-1 after the first period but the last place Bozeman Ice Dogs (5-13-0-1) scored four consecutive goals and five overall during the second and third frames to claim a 6-3 win over the Quake. Dominik Hauer scored a hat trick (3 goals) and Spencer Wilkinson scored four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the fifth victory of the season for the Ice Dogs. Cam Milewski had 33 saves in 60 minutes. Benjamin Kluza scored once in the opening period and another in the third to lead the charge for the Quake (box score).

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will play host to the Gillette (WY) Wild for the final home regular season matchup between these two NA3HL squads in Great Falls on Saturday, November 19, 2022, at 7:30PM (MST). Great Falls and Gillette will battle it out on the ice in Gillette, Wyoming on February 10-11, 2023, in their final weekend series. HockeyTV will bring fans all the junior hockey coverage.

A Shootout win for the Great Falls Americans!!