By Kevin Scott
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BOZEMAN, Mont., October 8, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans (5-1-1-1) and the Bozeman Ice Dogs (2-3-0) will meet for the second time this season.
The Ice Dogs, whose lone victory this season is a 5-1 victory on the road against the Helena Bighorns, plays their first home contest of the season tonight against the Americans in their only scheduled game of the week.
The Americans easily defeated the Ice Dogs 7-2 back on September 23 in Great Falls. Last weekend in Gillette, Wyoming, they lost two straight games to the Wild scoring just three goals and allowing 11.
Meanwhile, Great Falls, coached by Jeff Heimel, won the first four games before falling at home to the Yellowstone Quake last weekend, got back to their winning ways with a 2-0 shutout win over the Missoula Bruins in Missoula.
Great Falls was looking for their sixth win on Saturday night. Would they get it?
The Great Falls Americans led 4-1 after the first two periods before they squandered the lead that sent the NA3HL contest into overtime. They fell 5-4 in a shootout to the host Bozeman Ice Dogs on Saturday night at Haynes Pavilion.
During the opening period, forwards Matt Janke, Brendan Jester and Sandis Mezharaups each chipped in goals for the Americans. Janke and Jester now have seven season goals while Mezharaups has six. Assisting on the first periods scoring drives were Tanner Congdon, Tegan Harrington and Quinn Stuebner. The home team failed to get the puck in the net despite three power play opportunities. Each team recorded three minor penalties. Great Falls took 20 shots against Bozeman goaltender Charlie Smart.
Kadin Ferguson registered his first goal of the season and his team’s first points during the second period for the Ice Dogs. Casey Gobel and Stosh Skorulski assisted on the play that came 6:28 into the stanza. After Bozeman cut the deficit to 3-1, Great Falls responded with their fourth goal thanks to Latvia native Sandis Mezharaups, who also netted a first period score. Danny O’Donnell was credited with the assist that gave the visiting squad a 4-1 advantage before the second intermission. The Americans took twice as many shots on goal (34-17) after two periods.
Bozeman’s offense came alive in the final period of regulation. Jacoby Warner, Kadin Ferguson, and Stosh Skorulski each tallied unassisted goals to send the contest to overtime. Great Falls did not take any third period shots as the Ice Dogs scored on all three shots that were taken.
There was no scoring during the five-minute overtime so a shootout was needed.
Austin Charnholm and Stosh Skorulski each were successful in the one-on-one shootout with the Americans goaltender while the Americans Tanner Congdon and Matt Janke could not convert against the Bozeman netminder.
The contest between these two team saw 23 infractions for a total of 83 minutes of penalty time.
The contest did not get started until 9:15 pm.(MST) (instead of 7:30PM) and concluded before midnight.
Charlie Smart, the Ice Dogs goaltender from Australia, picked up a win for his squad. He accumulated 30 saves and allowed four goals during the first 40 minutes. Michael Hughes stopped 16 of the 20 shots in shootout loss for the Americans.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans play the Missoula Jr. Bruins twice next week. First, the Americans head to Missoula on Friday, October 14th and then return home to play the Bruins in Great Falls with both games slated to start at 7:30PM.