By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 24, 2017 — Heading into their fourth meeting this season, the Great Falls Americans (13-5-2-0) found a way to come out on top of the Helena Bighorns each of the past three contests.
Great Falls tried to make it four in a row on the final Friday of November.
The Helena Bighorns needed one goal in each of the regulation periods and held the Great Falls Americans to two goals despite a comeback attempt to send the
home team to their fifth loss of the season. Great Falls didn’t rack up as many shots as Helena (47-29) when the sixty-minute game concluded at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Friday.
The Americans and Bighorns traded goals during the first period. The rivals scored once goal apiece during a 21 second span. The first scoring drive began when Kaden Lindberg, who received the puck from teammate Gavin Cline, scored over Great Falls goalie Bryan Sharp with 8:59 on the clock. Matt Larson got the offense going for Great Falls when Ben Rinckey collected his fourth assist off his pass to Larson a few seconds after Helena scored. Larson’s goal was his fourth.
The following period just saw a lone goal by Helena’s Richard Groskops eight minutes into the second stanza for the temporary lead. Groskops third goal of the season was assisted by Hayden Seitz and Jarett Scheibel. Helena contributed 22 shots while Great Falls could only muster nine after the first intermission.
Payton McSharry made the score 2-2 midway through the third when teammate Jens Juliussen found him open for his 12th goal in 20 games. The Bighorns put the game away when they tallied the final goal of the night when Mikhail Gavrilenko registered his first goal in a Bighorns uniform. Shawn Mitchell and Gavin Cline assisted while the Americans were down a man on the penalty play.
There were seven total penalties called during the second period as both teams combined for 11 after the contest.
Nick Battaglia earned the win for the first time against Great Falls as he swatted away 27 of the 29 shots. Bryan Sharp’s loss was decided late into the third period when he allowed Mikhail Gavrilenko’s score to get by him. Sharp accumulated 44 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will travel to Bozeman’s Haynes Pavilion for the second time this season when they face off with the Ice Dogs on Saturday night (Nov. 25th) at 7:30PM.