Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 5, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (7-1-0-0) have tasted victories in seven of their eight games this season. Last week’s setback came at the hands of the Helena Bighorns, who posted a 7-1 win.
So far this season, Great Falls has bested the defending Frontier Division champions from 2017-18, four times this season including two at home. The Americans also picked up wins against Missoula (Jr. Bruins) and the newest member of the NA3HL’s Frontier Division, the Butte Cobras. Jack Olson (White Bear, Minnesota) is the leader in goals scored with eight while Braxton Lorenz, Jens Juliussen and Olson have a three-way tie with 10 assists each.
The Gillette Wild (Wyoming), have a record entering tonight’s contest at 2-2-1-1. The Wild defeated Missoula twice and came on the losing end (twice) against them and Helena once (with the other game a shootout loss) for coach Steve Kruk. South Dakota native Coleman Varty lead the Wild with 16 points (6 goals and 10 assists).
Would the Americans of coach Greg Sears defeat the Gillette NA3HL junior hockey franchise?
Lindros Beard scored two goals and Ben Rinckey assisted on three scoring plays to keep the Great Falls Americans perfect at the Great Falls Ice Plex with a 9-2 win over the Gillette Wild on Friday night with 845 fans watching the Americans pick up their seventh victory of the season.
Great Falls received a boost from Lindros Beard, who scored two of the five goals during first period action. Beard’s first goal came just six seconds into the contest with Jack Olson and Ben Rinckey adding the assists. Two minutes later, Alex Suchomlin and Garrett Peters found Beard again for the score over Gillette goaltender Aaron LaChance. Ben Rinckey, Payton McSharry and Luke Richesin all chipped in goals for the home team before the end of the first twenty minutes. The assists were from Matt Janke, Trent Cowden, Jens Juliussen while Garrett Peters added his second assist.
The Americans out-shot the Wild 24-5.
Great Falls took a commanding 7-0 lead as Jack Olson and Garrett Peters each netted a goal to open the middle period. Ben Rinckey assisted for the third time tonight while Jack Olson and Lindros Beard earned assists as well. Both teams’ defenses held up for the final eight minutes. The host team scored twice while taking 15 shots and limited the visiting team to nine.
Gillette’s Gage Thompson put the biscuit in the basket for their first scoring drive of the third period. Zach VanCompernolle and Nolan Conrad gathered the assists on the power play. The Wild chipped in their second goal with 7:38 to go when Wyoming native Austin Newson found the back of the net with help from Ethan Becker and Gage Thompson to cut the deficit to 7-2. The Americans rebounded to take an 8-2 advantage minutes later when Levi Mese recorded his third goal of the season off the stick of Trent Cowden on the short-handed and empty net scoring drive. As the final minutes ticked off, Great Falls managed to find the back of the net once again. Minnesota native Nick Ramstad scored the ninth and final unassisted goal for the second-place team in the Frontier Division as the Wild elected to have their goaltender out. Great Falls finished with nine more shots-on-goal (45-36) than Gillette.
The game got physical in the third stanza where Great Falls was whistled for five major penalties along with six minor infractions that resulted in 34 minutes in the penalty box. Gillette had six penalties called on them.
Despite being perfect in the goal for Great Falls during the first two periods, Drew Scites allowed just two goals while swatting away 34 shots. Gillette used two goaltenders. Aaron LaChance started and finished for the Wild. The Canadian ended the night with 23 saves while backup Cody Grogan accumulated 13.
NEXT CONTEST: Before the Great Falls Americans embark on a three-game road trip next weekend (Bozeman once, Gillette twice), they finish off their homestand with the Gillette Wild on Saturday, October 6th with game time set for 7:30PM from the Great Falls Ice Plex.