By Tribune Sports Staff

March 15, 2014

The Great Falls Americans spread the wealth Saturday night, and in so doing qualified for the American West Hockey League Finals.

Five different Americans tallied goals in the Americans’ 5-2 victory over the Gillette Wild at the IcePlex, giving the Americans a 3 games to 1 win in the first-round, best-of-five series and sending the No. 2 seeded Americans up against top-seeded Helena in the AWHL Finals.

That best-of-five series starts Tuesday night in Helena. Game 2 is Wednesday night at 7 at the Great Falls IcePlex.

Aaron McInnis, this year’s AWHL Most Valuable Player, took a pass from Reed Link and drilled the puck into an empty net with 54 seconds left in the game, putting a cap on a thrilling series that was extended to four games after the Wild’s double-overtime victory Friday night.

Link scored an unassisted tally at the 15 minute mark of the third stanza to put plenty of distance between the two clubs, leading to a 10-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Wild’s Darren Banks.

Brady Christiaens, Max Kaercher and Austin Krantz all scored in the first period, which ended with the Americans of coach Jeff Heimel ahead 3-1.

Dalton McCann and Alex King were the only two Gillette players to get the puck past Erik Powell, who saved 20 shots.

Sean Kelley started and took the loss in goal for the Wild.

Helena, whose only loss of the season was an overtime setback to the Americans, swept the Billings Bulls 3-0 in the their first-round series.

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: AWHL Playoffs: Americans advance (March 15, 2014)