By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
BOZEMAN, Mont., March 17, 2021 — The #2 Great Falls Americans (24-11-2-0) are entering the final week of the 2020-21 NA3HL regular season with three contests this week and a single game next week before the 2021 NA3HL Playoffs begin the first week of April.
The Americans along with the top-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks (35-1-1-0) are the only two Frontier Divisional teams that have already qualified for the 4-team Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals. The Gillette (WY) Wild (21-13-1-1) and the Missoula Junior Bruins (21-16-2-0) are on the verge of clinching this week.
Today’s opponent was the #6 Bozeman Ice Dogs (13-20-3-2), who Great Falls has only played three times this season with the Americans winning two out of three. The Americans outscored the Ice Dogs, 9-4 in their previous three contests. The lone setback was on February 20th at home when both teams were scoreless after three periods before the Ice Dogs settled it with a goal in the five-minute extra frame.
The #2 Great Falls Americans led 1-0 after the first two periods against the #6 Bozeman Ice Dogs before both teams lit up the scoreboard in the third period to send the Wednesday afternoon contest at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana into overtime. The Americans prevailed with 30 seconds remaining when Jackson Henningsgard secured the game-winning scoring drive while the home team was in the penalty box. The 4-3 triumph was the 12th win on the road for the Americans.
Great Falls’ Nick Silance took advantage of a Bozeman miscue and added the only goal for either squad during the first two stanzas. Jackson Henningsgard accrued the first of his three assists and AJ Benit added his only assist on the afternoon midway through the first period. Great Falls and Bozeman took 25 shots before the first intermission.
Despite 25 second period shot attempts, neither team capitalized on any scoring.
The Americans and Ice Dogs saved most of the scoring for the final period of regulation with five successful scoring drives between them. Chase White, a forward from St. Charles, Illinois evened up the contest two minutes in the third off the stick of Kamden Sengheiser. Tyler Lorring of the Americans sent the puck into the net less than two minutes after Bozeman’s score to regain the lead (2-1). Jackson Henningsgard and Lucas Gudz provided the assists for coach Greg Sears’ playoff bound team. Bozeman and Great Falls traded scores during a 50-second span with Kai Kingery (Bozeman) and Jake Hayes (Great Falls) adding goals to their resume. Kingery’s score with fifteen minutes left came while the Americans were in the penalty. Dylan Fontaine and Terrell Hood set up the play. Jake Hayes responded with his 18th goal of the season moments later with Gudz and Henningsgard coming away with the assists to give Great Falls the lead back (3-2). Before the period expired, Bozeman’s Terrell Hood received his first score of the season for the host team with Landon Frost and Keegan Kemper the recipients of the assists. Despite many attempts, both teams could not put the biscuit in the basket for the final six minutes to break the tie.
Jackson Henningsgard, playing in only his seventh game for Great Falls after spending a stint with the NA3HL’s North Iowa Bulls and the St. Louis Junior Blues this season, successfully put the puck in the back of the net with 30 seconds remaining in the extra period. Thomas Gazich, also a recent newcomer, earned his first assist for Great Falls with Bozeman down a man due to a high-sticking penalty.
Eight of the thirteen penalties between these two rivals came during the second period with a total of 34 minutes spent in the sin bin. Each team took advantage of one scoring power play opportunity.
Ben Winkler got the start and the win in the net for the second-ranked team in the Frontier Division. The Illinois product swatted away 28 of the 31 shots he faced as he won for the fourth time in four appearances. His counterpart, Brandon Keeney, also hailing from Illinois, suffered his second overtime loss of the season (5-4-2-0) but not before acquiring 41 saves.
NOTE: After the game concluded, it was announced that the Great Falls Americans have clinched the #2 spot in the Frontier Division Semi-Finals in April. Although, their opponent isn’t known yet, the schedule has been released. The times and opponent for the games will be announced at a later date.
2021 NA3HL Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals (Best-of-3 Format)
Game 1: Thursday, April 1st: Great Falls Americans @ TBA
Game 2: Friday, April 2nd: TBA @ Great Falls Americans
Game 3: Saturday, April 3rd: TBA @ Great Falls Americans (if necessary)
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans continue their month-long road trip to finish out the season. Great Falls stops in Butte for Friday night’s (March 19th) contest at 7:00PM against the Cobras followed by a Saturday afternoon game (March 20th) at 4:00PM against the Junior Bruins in Missoula. (MST). The final regular season game for Great Falls will be Tuesday, March 23rd for a 7:00PM meeting with the Helena Bighorns in the Capital City. HockeyTV is the official streaming source for NA3HL hockey games and fans can watch with a paid subscription.
Additional Media Coverage: March 19, 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.
Check out the game-winning goal by Americans forward Jackson Henningsgard below.
— NA3HL (@NA3HL) March 18, 2021