By Kevin Scott
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RAPID CITY, SD., December 3, 2021 — The #4 Great Falls Americans (12-9-2-1) and the #6 Badlands (SD) Sabres (8-12-1-0) battled it out on the ice for the second weekend in as many weeks on Friday night. Badlands, one of the newest members this season in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), played the Americans exactly one week ago at the Great Falls Ice Plex with each team coming out with one victory.
Last Friday (November 26), both squads scored one goal apiece in the first and second periods before the Sabres lit up the lamp twice more in a 4-2 win (see game story). Kael Delzer added two goals while Zach Vockler and Keagon Holloway netted one. Maxim Currie amassed 63 saves. Daniel Crutcher scored both goals for the home team and Zac Hattan had 40 saves but allowed three goals in the loss.
The following night, the Americans offense redeemed themselves and scored five of their seven goals in the third to outlast the Sabres, 7-3 to end their four-game skid. Hunter Maschke (2 goals, 1 assist), Micah Serino (1 goal, 2 assists), and 48 saves came from goalie Wyatt Olsonawski. After scoring two goals for Great Falls the previous night, Daniel Crutcher assisted on four of the Americans scoring drives. Kael Delzer and Zach Vockler combined for two goals and two assists for South Dakota. Maxim Currie stopped 36 of the 43 shots registered by the Americans offense (see game story).
The Americans were looking to go to 2-1-0-0 against the Sabres during the first week of December.
Four different players got the puck in the net as the Great Falls Americans came away with their first-ever win in South Dakota by downing the Badlands Sabres, 4-2 in the first of their two weekend games at the Roosevelt Park Ice Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday evening.
Only one scoring opportunity was successful in the first period. The Americans provided the early advantage with 92 seconds left as Noel Rahn and Billings, Montana’s Patrick Crooks accrued the assists on Thomas Gazich’s ninth goal of the season. Great Falls could not capitalize on the one minor penalty committed by Badlands in the lone stoppage of play before the first intermission. The Americans and Sabres combined for 22 shots.
The penalty-free middle period was highlighted by two Great Falls Americans with scores by Patrick Crooks and Daniel Crutcher. Crooks fourth goal came four minutes into the period with Jay Alford and Thomas Gazich each adding to their assist totals of nine and ten, respectively. Daniel Crutcher found the back of the net with under eight minutes remaining thanks to assistance from Hunter Maschke and Garrett Weisenburger. At the conclusion of the stanza, the Sabres prevented the shutout with a score by Derrick Brown off the stick of Hunter Fischbach and Carter Merritt. The Americans led 3-1 with 25 shots taken while holding the Sabres offense to seven.
During the first minutes of the final period of regulation, Micah Serino increased the visitor’s lead to 4-1 with his 15th goal as Jackson Henningsgard and Noel Rahn provided the assists. Later in the third, the Sabres second goal of the contest came as Denim Young put the biscuit in the basket for this first goal of the season. Adam Kahpeaysewat and Cole Sykes set up the play to pull the home team within two goals (4-2). Badlands would not be able to get any closer as the last eleven minutes went by quickly to end the game.
Great Falls combined for 46 shots in the second and third periods to finish with 61. Badlands scored twice on 25 attempts.
The Great Falls coaching staff had to be pleased as the Americans played a penalty-free game. Two minor infractions were called on the Sabres that resulted in four minutes spent on the bench. Great Falls went 0-for-2 on the power plays that occurred in the first and third periods.
Will Simpson collected his fourth win of the season (4-3-0-1) in his eighth appearance for the Americans and finished the sixty-minute junior hockey nightcap with 23 saves. Zach Broxterman remained winless (0-3-0-0) in five games in the net for Badlands. The Shawnee, Kansas goaltender garnered 57 saves.
NOTES: For the first time this season, the #1 Helena Bighorns (22-0-0-0) and the #2 Gillette (WY) Wild (20-1-0-0) collided on the ice on Friday as both teams entered the weekend without a loss. Helena took a three-goal lead for the initial 57 minutes of the contest as the host team found a way to keep their undefeated streak alive by posting a 4-2 win over the Wild on Friday night in Helena, Montana (see box score). Samuel Feamster led both squads with two goals and Erick Buchholz acquired 35 saves. Tucker Lien and Brock Trboyevich scored both goals for Gillette in their first setback of the year.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will play one more contest in Rapid City, South Dakota against the Sabres (7:05PM start) as they continue their month-long road trip that started Wednesday in Butte, Montana and will make a stop in Gillette, Wyoming next weekend for a pair of games against the Wild before the 2021 NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota (December 20-22) before the Christmas break. Click here for more information about the Showcase tournament including the Americans schedule. The games can be seen live on the NA3HL streaming service, HockeyTV.
Additional Media Coverage: December 1, 2021: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Friday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.