Americans record falls to 1-2 against the Yellowstone Quake with 2-0 loss

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

CODY, Wyo., February 11, 2022 — After sitting idle last weekend, the #4 Great Falls Americans (20-15-3-2) were back on the ice on Friday night in Cody, Wyoming ready to finish off the final three weeks of the 2021-22 North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) junior hockey regular season against the #7 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (11-26-2-0).

With eight games remaining (including this weekend’s pair of games against the Yellowstone Quake and Sunday’s contest with the Bozeman Ice Dogs in Bozeman, Montana), the Americans are holding on to the #4 seed and hot on the heels of the #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs, who are one point ahead of Great Falls for the #3 seed in the Frontier Division standings with a record of 21-15-3-1. Bozeman and Great Falls will tangle on the ice for the final time this season on Sunday evening starting at 5:15PM from Haynes Pavilion.

Due to the league scheduling, the Great Falls have not played Yellowstone since the opening weekend of the 2021-22 season on September 10th in Wyoming. The Americans and Quake were tied at 3-3 until the final seven minutes of regulation when the home team made two goals to pull away with a 5-3 win (game story). The following evening (September 11th), the Americans closed out their first (road) weekend with an overtime 4-3 victory. Forward Thomas Gazich provided the game-winning tally 21 seconds into the extra frame (game story).

After this weekend’s contests, both squads will meet for the Americans only home meetings against them on February 25-26 at the Great Falls Ice Plex.

Yellowstone Quake forward Gabe Coppo scored two third period goals and single-handedly blanked the Great Falls Americans 2-0 during Friday’s NA3HL junior hockey contest at Riley Arena in Cody, Wyoming. Sweden goaltender Edvin Falkenstrom put on a spectacular performance redirecting all 71 shots. Great Falls is 1-2 against Yellowstone with three head-to-head meetings remaining.

Despite the Americans taking 55 combined shots-on-goal after two periods and the home team attempting 20, neither team was successful scoring before the second intermission. The referee’s whistles were quiet as just two minor penalties were called on the Quake.

Gabe Coppo was not going to allow anymore scoreless periods as he buried the puck in the net during the first 99 seconds of the third period for the game’s first score. Coppo, a Michigan native, playing in his first season with the Cody, Wyoming-based NA3HL team, registered his 16th goal off the stick of Benjamin Angeli. The one-score game would remain for the next 13 minutes until Coppo responded for this second goal (17th overall) with help again from Benjamin Angeli. Gabe’s score came while the Americans were in the penalty box as he is fourth on the team in points scored with 34 this season through 33 appearances. Both teams skated the last four minutes without lighting up the lamp.

The surprising statistic of the game came in the shots-on-goal category. Great Falls’ offense made a valiant effort getting shots off but could not find a way to put one of their 71 shots in the back of the net. Yellowstone successfully converted two goals on 27 shots.

Five total (minor) penalties were witnessed by the small crowd inside Riley Arena on Friday evening. The Quake turned one of their two power play chances into a goal and Great Falls had three chances come up short when they were in the penalty kill.

Three players from coach CJ Sweigart’s seventh place Frontier Division team were responsible for the victory. Gabe Coppo scored both goals and teammate Benjamin Angeli set up both plays while netminder Edvin Falkenstrom never allowed any of the 71 shots by Great Falls’ offense to get by him.

Will Simpson had a perfect game in the net for Great Falls for the first two periods before two goals broke the streak in the third. Simpson, who had 25 saves, let his record fall to 9-6-0-2 after four previous wins in January.

NOTES: In preparation for the final weeks of the season and a chance at the upcoming playoffs in March, the Great Falls Americans, and the rest of the NA3HL had their rosters frozen on February 10th which meant that they can’t make any roster changes for the rest of the season. Since February 5th, the Americans have changed up their roster by releasing four players (forwards Patrick Crooks, Carter Schuller, and Ethan Marek along with defenseman Sterling Amdahl) and adding three forwards (JJ Martin, Riley Opperude, and Jace Thompson) and defenseman Christian Crutcher). Crooks has recently been added to the Butte Cobras roster. Crutcher of Aberdeen, South Dakota was the only Americans pickup who saw action in the NA3HL this season as he suited up for sixteen contests with the Minnesota Loons (1 goal, 3 assists) before being released on December 10th. For an updated printable (PDF) roster, please click here.

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: Just two other games were on the slate for the Frontier Division tonight. The #2 Gillette (WY) Wild was on the road in Rapid City, South Dakota for a matchup with the Badlands Sabres and #1 Helena Bighorns had a home date with the #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs. Helena and Gillette have already locked up playoff berths that will start in March. Helena’s Tyler Bloom scored twice to guide the Bighorns to a 6-2 win over Bozeman and goaltender Aidan Wright recorded 40 saves in the battle of No.1 vs. No. 3 (box score).The Gillette (WY) Wild, coached by former Americans Associate Coach Ethan Hayes, spotted the Sabres one goal in the first but then rattled off seven consecutive goals including for in the second for the easy 7-1 win to maintain second place in the Frontier standings (box score).

NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will play for the last time this season in Cody, WY when they face the Quake at Riley Arena on Saturday, February 12th at 7:30PM (MST) live on HockeyTV. Great Falls will then finish the weekend with a single contest against the Bozeman Ice Dogs with the action on HockeyTV beginning at 5:15PM on Sunday, February 13th.

Great Falls fans will need to wait until the final weekend of February before seeing the Americans in action at the Great Falls Ice Plex. They will entertain the Quake in the final weekend of the season on February 25-26 with the contest set to start at 7:30PM (MST). This will be the first and only appearance that Yellowstone will travel to Great Falls.