Bozeman pulls away for a 6-3 hockey win over Great Falls to earn weekend sweep

By Kevin Scott

Box Score
Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

BOZEMAN, Mont., February 18, 2023 — Entering Saturday’s contest, the #6 Great Falls Americans (15-25-3-0) have played three games against the #5 Bozeman Ice Dogs (22-20-0-1) with mixed results.

Great Falls has won, lost, and fell in overtime (1-1-1-0) against Bozeman this season. The Americans recent setback was during Friday’s NA3HL showdown as Great Falls led at one point and came back to even the score in the third to send it to an overtime. Bozeman scored two minutes into the extra period to pull out a 5-4 victory. Despite a three-goal performance by Americans leading scorer, Jace Thompson, Great Falls could not find an answer for the Ice Dogs offensive attack. Ben Cremers chipped in three assists. Bozeman’s Bodie Shepardson scored twice to keep his team in fifth place in the Frontier Division standings as the playoff race continues to heat up (game story).

Their two previous meetings took place at the Great Falls Ice Plex where the Americans snapped a four-game losing streak by earning a 5-2 decision on January 14th. Click here to read the game story. During their January 21st encounter, Bozeman took over fifth place in the Frontier Division by posting a 2-1 win over Great Falls. Kole Morris and Spencer Wilkinson led the scoring for the visitors. Jace Thompson provided the second period scoring drive for the Americans (game story).

Bodie Shepardson scored a hat trick (three goals) to lead the #5 Bozeman Ice Dogs past the #6 Great Falls Americans, 6-3 in front of a few spectators at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana on Saturday evening. Noah Osiowy, Andrew Villareal and Ben Cremers tacked on the goals for Great Falls. Bozeman earned the weekend sweep and have won three of the four head-to-head meetings with two more left.

Casey Sturm’s pass to Bodie Shepardson 81 seconds, who lit up the lamp, gave the Ice Dogs a one-goal lead over the Americans before the first intermission. Great Falls trailed 18-12 in shots taken.

Noah Osiowy put in the equalizer for Great Falls three minutes into the middle period. Alex Leaf had the first of his two assists on the night while Sam Duehlmeier chipped had one (assist) as well. Bozeman waited until the final 43 seconds before the middle period ended to break the tie (2-1) and give the Ice Dogs back the lead. Spencer Wilkinson set up the short-handed scoring opportunity for the host team.

Braden Koliha put in his team’s third goal five minutes in the final period of regulation with helpers coming from Owen House and Dominik Hauer. Aaron Leaf collected his second lamplighter as a member of the Americans off the stick of recent newcomers, Jack Metcalfe, and Hunter Acker to cut the Americans deficit to one (3-2). Bozeman’s offense scored 15 seconds later with Bodie Shepardson’s third score. Four minutes later, Owen House provided the largest lead of the contest (5-2) with his 17th goal of the season with assistance from Bryce Sturm and Dominik Hauer. The Americans took advantage and capitalized on one of their four power play attempts with 6:20 remaining as Ben Cremers put the biscuit in the basket. Alex Leaf and Jace Thompson racked up their first assists of the night. After assisting on two previous scoring chances, Dominik Hauer submitted his 18th goal with two minutes remaining that went unassisted to supplement the win.

Bozeman’s offense erupted for 35 shots after the first intermission to end the night with 53. Great Falls attempted 15 shots-on-goal in the third to total 33 in the Americans second-to-last road trip of the regular season. After being at home next weekend, Great Falls will make their first and last trip to Cody, Wyoming the first weekend of March to challenge the #7 Yellowstone Quake in the season finale.

The two Montana NA3HL clubs combined for eleven minor infractions (22 minutes spent off the ice). Great Falls scored on one of their four power plays while the Ice Dogs were denied any goals on their two chances.

Axel Rosenlund improved his record to 7-4-0-0 overall and 2-1 this season when facing the Great Falls Americans. He allowed two of his three goals in the third frame where he concluded this game with 30 saves. The fifth loss by Americans goalie Jake Regan (1-5-0-0) was his first against the Ice Dogs. The Osseo, Minnesota product recorded 47 saves.

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: The Helena Bighorns (34-7-1-1) have now won 16 straight games dating back to December 19, 2022, at the NA3HL Showcase with a 3-0 shutout win over #8 Badlands (SD) Sabres (11-27-2-3). The Bighorns have temporarily taken over the top spot over the Gillette (WY) Wild (33-7-1-1), who were idle this weekend. All Helena needed was one goal scored in each period to claim the victory. Tyler Bloom, Braden, and Camden Cunningham each got the puck between the pipes.  Camden Cunningham assisted on two scoring drives. Helena made over 20 shots per period to finish with 69. The home team held Badlands to 15. Keaton French (6-12-0-0) was perfect in the net by swatting away all 15 shots. Zach Broxterman (4-19-1-3) created 66 saves in the road loss for the Sabres (box score).

Ryler Schelle scored two of this three goals before the first intermission as the #3 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (23-18-2-0) scored four goals in the first period to secure a 7-4 win over the #4 Butte Cobras (22-19-1-1). Makhai Sparks contributed two third period goals for the Wyoming visitors. Nick Bradshaw had one goal and dished out one assist for the Cobras. Jack Wood stopped 64 shots enroute to his fifth win in twelve games (5-5-0-0) for Sheridan. Caleb Cross played the first two periods and allowed six goals but still finished with 38 saves before being relieved in the final period by teammate Braylon Rogers, who had 17 saves in 18 attempts. The loss by Cross was his eleventh of the season (17-11-0-0) (box score).

This weekend, the #2 Gillette (WY) Wild (33-7-1-1) and the #7 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (12-2-4-2) are idle. Gillette will host the top-ranked Helena Bighorns at 7:05PM (MST) on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24-25, 2023) while the Yellowstone Quake will travel to Sheridan, Wyoming to challenge the Sheridan Hawks at 7:30PM (MST) for a two-game series.

NEXT CONTEST: The time has come for the regular season home finale for the Great Falls Americans Junior A Hockey team. The Bozeman Ice Dogs will be the opponent for the Great Falls Americans last regular season games at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Friday (Feb. 24th) and Saturday (Feb. 25th). The two-game series starts both nights at 7:30PM (MST) and can be seen on HockeyTV. On Saturday, the Americans will have their annual Billet Family Appreciation Night where host families will be introduced along with their host player(s) between periods.