Frontier Semifinal: Bozeman evens up Division series with Great Falls

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

BOZEMAN, Mont., March 16, 2019 —The Great Falls Americans edged out Bozeman, 3-2 on Friday night in Great Falls for Game 1 of the best-of-three Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals.

On Saturday night, Great Falls was in Bozeman looking to wrap up the series and head to the Finals. There was one problem, Bozeman was looking to extend their season and stay alive against the Americans.

The Great Falls Americans allowed Bozeman’s offense to rack up four straight goals in the middle period to down the Great Falls Americans 5-3 at Haynes Pavilion on Saturday night in Game 2 of the Frontier Division Semi-Finals.

The visiting team scored the only tally of the opening period on a power play when team leaders Payton McSharry and Jens Juliussen each earned assists on a goal scored by Cody Dearing. Great Falls outshot Bozeman 16-5.

During the next period, Bozeman set the pace by outscoring Great Falls 4-0 over the next twenty minutes. Gage Blatter, Adam Franklin, Duncan McGarrah, and Dominic Canic all lit up the lamp to give the Ice Dogs a 4-1 lead with a period to play. Luke Hartge added two assists while Duncan McGarrah, Nash Pine, Brock Finn, Rhys Phelps and Daniel Davis all added one assist on each of the scoring plays for the third-place finishers in the Frontier Division.

Early in the third stanza, Bozeman recorded their fifth goal of the contest. Rhys Phelps, after picking up an assist in the second period, scored a goal of his own when Dominic Canic and Hazen McKay found him open for the score.  Great Falls’ comeback fell short, but they did manage two goals in the period.  Nate Simpson and George Nuutinen found the back of the net for coach Greg Sears’ team. Payton McSharry assisted on both plays and finished with three assists.  Nate Simpson garnered an assist on Nuutinen’s scoring drive.

The Americans outshot the Ice Dogs in all three periods and finished with 52.  The Ice Dogs created 26 shots.

Five of the eleven total penalties went against the Americans. The teams spent 22 minutes in the penalty box.

AJ Ruskowski picked up his first win in two game against Great Falls. Bozeman’s netminder had 49 assists with most of them coming in the first two periods.  Viktor Wennberg, who got the start in the net for the Americans, had ten of his 18 saves before being pulled for backup Drew Scites in the second period. Scites stopped three out of four shot attempts set up by Bozeman before Wennberg returned in the third frame.

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans return to home ice on Sunday, March 17th at 7:30PM when the Bozeman Ice Dogs come back to town for Game 3 with the winner advancing to play the Helena Bighorns, who needed three games to get by the Missoula Junior Bruins in the other semifinal after edging Missoula 6-5 on Saturday evening in Helena.  The 2019 Frontier Divisional Finals starts next week with Helena facing either Great Falls or Bozeman in a best-of three series to determine who gets to go to the Fraser Cup National Tournament in Illinois at the end of March.

Additional Media Coverage: March 16, 2019: Great Falls Tribune: Icedogs score four in second to force Game 3 with Americans