By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 16, 2016 — After winning their second straight NA3HL Frontier Division championship and an appearance at the Silver Cup national tournament last March, the Great Falls Americans opened up their third season in the NA3HL on a high note taking on the Glacier Nationals (Havre, MT) on Friday night at home in the first game for both teams.
Great Falls welcomed back many returners from last season’s squad including forwards Matt Larson, Tegan Harrington, Malachi Bushey, Brendan Jester, Hayden Moistner, Mitchell Ramstad and Tanner Congdon, defenseman Jesse Johnson and goaltender Caleb Anderson.
The Great Falls Americans dominated on the offensive end throughout the night enroute to a 11-0 romp over the Glacier Nationals on Friday night in Great Falls. The 952 in attendance saw five first period goals.
Malachi Bushey and Wisconsin native Matt Janke each scored once and dished out one assist during first period action. Janke’s goal 4:06 into the game was the first of the season for the Americans. Before Bushey scored, returner Brendan Jester found the back of the net. Matt Larson and Danny O’Donnell also took advantage of scoring opportunities. In addition to Janke’s and Bushey assists, Kody Thomas and Dustin Truex helped set up goals during the opening twenty minutes of action. Great Falls led 5-0 after the first period.
The home team scored three more points within the first five minutes of the middle period. Hayden Moistner, Tanner Congdon and Tegan Harrington received their first goals of the season. The assists went to Quinn Stuebner, Sandis Mezharaups and Brendan Jester. After two periods, Great Falls took 38 shots-on-goal while holding the Glacier offense to just two shots.
During the final period, forwards Brendan Jester and Matt Larson each picked up their second goals of the contest. Alaska native Adam Vandenbos got the puck between the pipes. Danny O’Donnell and Isaac Vincent set up the scoring plays for Jester and Larson, respectively while Matt Janke tacked on his second assist. In the third, Great Falls out-shot the visiting team from Havre, 21-4 and 59-6 for the game.
Michael Hughes, the 6’2” goaltender from St. Paul, Minnesota, got the start for Great Falls. The 18-year-old goalie stopped all six shots he faced including four in the last stanza. Glacier utilized both goaltenders in Travis Green and Jonah Gower combined for 48 saves in the loss.
Great Falls’ Matt Janke converted both of his first and third period goals while on the power play. The Nationals failed to convert any of their four attempts.
The opening contest between these two squad saw a combined 14 penalties totaling 31 minutes.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans second game of the season is in Havre, Montana on Saturday, September 17th when they face the Glacier Nationals. The action begins at 7:30PM from the Havre Ice Dome. Great Falls then has four straight home dates at the Great Falls Ice Plex including games against Bozeman (Ice Dogs), Billings (Bulls) and two games against Yellowstone (Quake).
Additional Media Coverage: September 15, 2016: KINX-FM (102.7 FM): Americans coach Heimel a guest on radio show this week:Great Falls Americans head coach Jeff Heimel was one of the guest’s on the Sports Chat on KINX 102.7FM on Thursday morning. He talked about the upcoming 2016-17 season with radio hosts Jim Sargent and Great Falls Tribune Sports Writer Scott Mansch. Jeff comes on at about the 40:50 mark of the radio show and lasts about nine minutes. Click here for the link to the radio interview.