Americans win in comeback fashion over Billings

By Kevin Scott

BILLINGS, Mont., September 27, 2014 — The Great Falls Americans found themselves down 2-0 entering the third period before outscoring the Bulls in the final twenty minutes to claim a 4-3 comeback victory over the home team on Saturday night. Great Falls’ Wade Wylie added two of his team’s four goals in the final twenty minutes. With the win, Great Falls is 3-0 on the season.

Both clubs struggled offensively in the first period as neither team failed to get the puck between the pipes.

Billings forward Cameron Birklid was able to give the Bulls their first goal of the contest with help from Ian Wiljanen and Alex Lundstrom setting up the score two minutes into the second. It looked like Great Falls would only be down one goal after the first forty minutes but Ian Wiljanen gave the Bulls their second goal of the night right before the period ended. Alex Lundstrom picked up his second assist. Despite being down two goals, Great Falls maintained a 20-18 advantage on shots on goal.

It took nearly half of the last period before the Americans registered their first goal as hockey veteran Connor Barta cut the Great Falls deficit to 2-1 on his unassisted score. Wade Wylie connected on a pair of power play opportunities in a two minute span to give the Americans their first lead of the night. Miles Giorgione was credited with the assists on both of Wylie’s points. Giorgione found the scoring column with 5:18 left in regulation with help from Dylan Garton and Wylie for the Americans fourth goal in five minutes. Tristan Henrichs found the back of the net for Billings before time expired.

Three of the four third period goals were scored during power play opportunities for coach Jeff Heimel’s team. Billings went 1-for-8 in power plays including Henrich score late in the last period.

Lauren Massie stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced against the Billings offense. Despite the loss, Billings goaltender Alexander Meagher recorded 37 saves. Great Falls finished with 41 of the 70 shots on goal.

Wylie led Great Falls with two goals and one assist while Giorgione finished with a goal and two assists in the Americans come from behind victory.

Meanwhile, the Bulls (1-2) received help from Ian Wiljanen who chipped in a goal and an assist.

The fourth year Great Falls franchise improves to 3-0 heading into next week’s tough matchup at home with the Gillette Wild (3-0 on the season).

NEXT CONTEST: The Americans return for a two-game home-stand against the Gillette Wild on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3rd and 4th at the Great Falls Ice Plex starting at 7:30PM each night.


Period 1 Period 2 Period 3 Final
Great Falls 0 0 4 4
Billings 0 2 1 3


First Period – NO SCORING

Second Period – 1, Billings, Cameron Birklid (Ian Wiljanen, Alex Lundstrom), 2:04. 2, Billings, Ian Wiljanen (Alex Lundstrom, Ian Eshbaugh), 19:59.

Third Period – 3, Great Falls, Connor Barta (unassisted), 9:05. 4, Great Falls, Wade Wylie (power play) (Miles Giorgione, Marvin Simmons), 10:50. 5, Great Falls, Wade Wylie (power play) (Miles Giorgione), 12:36. 6, Great Falls, Miles Giorgione (power play) (Dylan Garton, Wade Wylie), 14:42. 7, Billings, Tristan Henrichs (power play) (TJ Theodosopoulos, Nick Rizzo), 16:53.

Shots on Goal – Great Falls 41, Billings 29.

Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 3-for-9, Billings 1-for-8.

Attendance – 350

Box Score: Great Falls @ Billings

Additional Media Coverage: September 28, 2014: Great Falls Tribune: Americans rally to defeat Billings late Saturday Night