NOTE: A Special Thanks to Dustin Bauer for providing the photos.
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 24, 2022 — After letting their two-goal lead slip away during the final period on Friday evening that resulted in a 3-2 loss, the #4 Great Falls Americans (2-2-0-0) were looking to rebound from their mistakes and get back to their winning ways on Saturday against the #6 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (2-4-0-0).
During their first encounter on Friday, neither team scored during the first twenty minutes and the Americans added one tally by Caleb Gauthier in the second period to take the early advantage before the second intermission. Forward Jace Thompson chipped in his second goal of the season four minutes into the third before the Yellowstone offense lit up the lamp three times during the last 12 minutes of play. Teagan Scheurer, Nick Cofer, and Benjamin Kluza all scored for coach Chris Blaisuis’ squad.
The Americans were hoping for a better offensive production in their second game of their two-game weekend series against the Quake.
Forward Ben Cremers scored one of the six goals and dished out four assists to help the #4 Great Falls Americans redeem their performance on Friday to claim a 6-1 win over the #5 Yellowstone Quake during Saturday’s NA3HL junior hockey action at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Goaltender Nik Romahs got his first start (and win) in the net by accruing 29 saves. Six different Americans accounted for all the goals.
The first successful score of the contest went to the Americans. Jace Thompson and Aaron Leaf assisted on the score by Ben Cremers, who netted his second goal in four games with 6:23 on the clock. Great Falls and Yellowstone both skated out the remaining time. A combined 19 shots were taken during the first stanza.
The middle period saw lots of scoring as the Americans registered four of the five scoring drives. Sebe Perez score for Yellowstone 4:37 into the stanza tied the game at 1-1 within the first four minutes. Shawn Ohlenschlager Van Coller added the helper. Great Falls quickly broke the tie nine seconds later when Silas Hughes’ shot sailed over Quake netminder Steven Kelley for the 2-1 advantage. Ben Cremers and Jace Thompson set up the scoring drive. Great Falls defenseman Phil Harrell got in on the action and racked up his first goal with the team a few minutes after Hughes scored. Ben Cremers added his second assist of the period and Baden Powell was credited with his second of the season. After Harrell’s goal, Yellowstone pulled their netminder, Steven Kelley and put in the returning goaltender from last season, Edvin Falkenstrom. The Americans led 3-1 until the final 52 seconds when the Quake committed a penalty by interrupting a scoring opportunity by Dawson Bunch. Bunch went one-on-one with Falkenstrom and got the puck in the net on the penalty shot. The Americans added a fifth goal with 26 seconds remaining by Jace Thompson on a miscue by the Quake with assistance from Ben Cremers and Silas Hughes. Thompson leads Great Falls in goal scored with three after four contests. The home team outshot the visitors, 24-16.
Tyler Sunagel needed 47 seconds of the third frame to find the back of the net for Great Falls’ sixth score. Sunagel’s second goal of the season was made possible by teammates Phil Harrell and Wes Weisenburger. Both teams came up empty the rest of the way despite many attempts between the pipes.
The host team took 24 shots-on-goal in the second and third periods to finish with 58. The Quake created 16 of their 30 shots in the middle period.
On Friday, Great Falls was called for two minor penalties while Yellowstone stayed away from the sin bin. But there were 13 minor infractions whistled between these two rivals on Saturday. The Americans and Quake could not find a way to capitalize on their five power play chances.
Ben Cremers (1 goal, 3 assists) and Jace Thompson (1 goal, 2 assists) led the way in scoring for the sixth-place team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. Yellowstone’s Sebe Perez scored the lone goal with an assist by Shawn Ohlenschlager Van Coller.
Nik Romahs, the 6’3” netminder from Streatham, Latvia, was brilliant in the net for Great Falls by allowing just one second period goal while earning 29 saves in his first victory for coach Greg Sears’ squad. Steven Kelley made his first appearance (and took the loss) for the Quake. The St. Paul, Minnesota goalie had 20 saves in 28 minutes before being replaced by Edvin Falkenstrom in the middle stanza. Falkenstrom ended his night in the goal with 32 saves.
FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: Tyler Bloom (2 goals) and Harlen Wojtusik (2 goals, 1 assist) led five #1 Helena Bighorns (5-0-0-0) in scoring as they blanked the visiting #7 Sheridan Hawks (1-4-1-0), 7-0 to stay undefeated and the leader in the Frontier Division standings. Gabe Swanson swatted away all 20 of the Hawks shots (box score). For the second straight night, the #2 Gillette (WY) Wild (4-0-0-0) came away with an easy 9-2 win over the #5 Badlands (SD) Sabres (2-3-0-0) in South Dakota. Zach Slinger was one goal short of his second consecutive hat trick (2 goals), but teammate Anthony Foster acquired the hat trick (3 goals) tonight as the Wild led 5-1 after two periods. Zach Vockler and Dawson Wirth each scored in the third loss of the season for the Sabres (box score). A night after falling to the #8 Bozeman Ice Dogs (1-4-0-0) 4-1 in Bozeman, the third-ranked Butte Cobras (3-2-0-0) scored the first four goals to earn the 4-2 win over Bozeman in Butte, Montana. Cade Wessman, Tyler Tosch, Nick Bradshaw, and former Great Falls American Patrick Crooks tallied the scores for the winning team. Chris Porciuncula and Spencer Wilkinson scored both goals for the Ice Dogs (box score).
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans (2-2-0-0) will host the undefeated Helena Bighorns (6-0-0-0) for the second time this season on Friday, September 30th for a 7:30PM (MST) showdown at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Great Falls looks to avenge their September 16th loss. On Saturday, October 1st, the Americans will make their road debut with a trip to Butte, Montana for a contest against the Butte Cobras at 7:30PM (MST). HockeyTV will have all the coverage starting on Friday at the Great Falls Ice Plex and on Saturday from the Butte Community Ice Center.