Bozeman strikes late in the third to defeat Great Falls, 4-3

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

BOZEMAN, Mont., February 13, 2022 — The #4 Great Falls Americans (20-17-3-2) have had a tough two weeks trying to generate any victories against their opponents.

The Americans last win came on January 28th when they upset the #1 Helena Bighorns (37-3-2-0) at home, 3-2 but have since lost four straight with two losses to the Yellowstone (WY) Quake (12-26-2-0) and a single loss to the Helena Bighorns and the #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs (22-15-3-1).

Great Falls has just two wins in six meetings with Bozeman (2-2-0-2) this season as they played their last head-to-head contest against each other on Sunday evening. (NOTE: These two teams were playing in the only night game in the NA3HL as Super Bowl LVI was being played in Inglewood, California between the Los Angeles Rams, and the Cincinnati Bengals).

The #3 Bozeman Ice Dogs escaped with a victory by scoring two goals in third period to top the #4 Great Falls Americans, 4-3 during the final regular season meeting between these two clubs in Bozeman, Montana on Sunday evening.

A trio of California natives helped the Ice Dogs jump in front of the Americans for the first tally of the game. Luke Busher (Palm Desert, CA) recorded his 34th assist and Nate Brunelle (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) added his seventh assist as they created the ninth goal for Forrest Musselman (Orange, CA) with 14 minutes remaining. Jace Thompson, who just joined the team prior to Friday’s game at the Yellowstone Quake), needed just three games to produce his first goal in a Great Falls uniform. Tyler Sunagel and Silas Hughes chipped in the assists to even the score (1-1). Both teams took nine shots before the first intermission.

Bozeman and Great Fall exchange goals during the first 16 minutes of the second period. Wesley Rees (Bozeman) and Petr Van Voorhis (Great Falls) scored for their respective teams. Makhai Sparks, who also played for the Sheridan Hawks this season, and Bentley Simcox assisted on Rees’ score with 7:49 to go. The assists on the Americans scoring drive went to Bryson Fletcher and Garrett Weisenburger. The visiting squad took their first (and only) lead with 18 seconds left when Thomas Gazich shot sailed by Bozeman netminder Cameron Milewski. Micah Serino accrued his 20th assist on the short-handed scoring play. Each team accounted for 11 shots apiece.

Great Falls’ offense could not muster any goals coming out of the locker room in the third. The home team outscored their opponent, 2-0. Nick Smith and Liam Massie, both listed on the roster as one of 18 players from state of California, each buried the puck in the net. Jaden Aguilera, Wesley Rees, Ian Bowman, and Grayden Pond made the goals possible for the third-place team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division.

The Ice Dogs and Americans took 20 shots apiece during the first and second periods before Bozeman had 12 in the final period of regulation to end their night with 32. Great Falls had ten of their thirty in the last period.

Seven minor infractions were called on the Americans who were whistled for three of them during the middle period. Bozeman had eight minors and one major that resulted in 26 minutes spent off the ice.

Cameron Milewski (Bozeman) defeated Great Falls for the second time this year and earned his fourth win in six games by amassing 27 saves. Will Simpson fell for the second time in three games this weekend as the Americans lost on Friday (February 11) 2-0 to the Yellowstone Quake. Simpson’s overall record dropped to 9-7-0-2 in 18 appearances as he collected 28 saves.

NOTES: The Ice Dogs and Americans were the sole night game in the NA3HL on Sunday and the only teams in the Frontier Division playing on Super Bowl Sunday. There were three other games going on between other divisions during the day. Sunday’s win for Bozeman helped them officially clinch a playoff spot for the upcoming NA3HL Playoffs in March. Great Falls has not officially clinched a spot yet but are in a good position to do so with five games remaining. The top two seeds, the Helena Bighorns and the Gillette Wild, also have locked up playoff spots a few weeks ago.

NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls remains on the road for a pair of games against the top-seeded Helena Bighorns on Friday (February 18th) and Saturday (February 19th) starting at 7:05PM (MST) inside the Helena Ice Arena. Be sure to tune into HockeyTV to stream the NA3HL contests each night.

Great Falls fans will have two more opportunities to watch their home team in action before the NA3HL regular season concludes for the Americans on Sunday, February 27th. The Great Falls Ice Plex will be the venue for the Great Falls Americans and Yellowstone (WY) Quake on February 25-26th.