Bradshaw and Schleusner’s hat tricks lift Butte to a victory over Great Falls

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

BUTTE, Mont., October 1, 2022 — The #4 Great Falls Americans (2-4-0-0) and the #3 Butte Cobras (4-3-0-0) met for their second of six meetings this season.

During their first encounter on September 10th in Great Falls, the Americans opened their 2022-23 NA3HL junior hockey season by escaping with a 3-2 win over the Cobras. Great Falls held a 3-1 lead after two periods and allowed just one goal in the third (period) to preserve the victory. Jace Thompson, Noah Osiowy, and Ben Cremers scored for the host team and first-year goaltender Josh Koziol had 65 saves in the net in his debut. Osiowy and Cremers are also in their first year with Great Falls. Former Great Falls American player, Patrick Crooks and Tamer Billman added one goal apiece for the Cobras. Caleb Cross swatted away 45 shots in the loss (box score).

After playing the first five games to open the season at the Great Falls Ice Plex, Saturday’s game against Butte was their first road test.

Forward Nick Bradshaw and defenseman Luke Schleusner each had a hat trick to lead the #3 Butte Cobras to a 9-3 rout of the #4 Great Falls Americans in the first road test for the Americans on Saturday evening in Butte, Montana.

Fresh off Butte’s 6-2 setback to the Bozeman Ice Dogs on Friday night on the road, the Cobras, coached by former Americans assistant Kirk Golden, scored the first two goals, and led 2-0 after the first period ended. Nick Bradshaw and Luke Schleusner, both returning players from the 2021-22 season, picked up their sixth and third goals, respectively. Luke Schleusner and Cade Wessman assisted on Bradshaw’s first goal 1:09 into the contest while Bradshaw and Weston Villers set up Schleusner’s score midway through the stanza. The Butte Community Ice Arena crowd saw a total of 39 shots taken between these two Montana NA3HL squads.

After the first intermission, Great Falls and Butte combined for six second period scoring drives as the third ranked team in the Frontier Division opened the game with a 6-2 advantage. Nick Bradshaw and Luke Schleusner chipped in their second goals of the night while Cade Wessman and Patrick Crooks also saw their shots find the back of the net. Jace Thompson recorded his fourth goal in six games and Willman Fallman, playing in just his second game, collected his first score after having an assist on Thompson’s earlier score. Nick Bradshaw assisted on two of the scoring opportunities for the Cobras after dishing out one in the first period, Cade Wessman acquired his second helper of the contest while Quinn Nichols, Carson Streich, Tamer Billman, and Micah Williamson also assisted. The Leaf brothers, Alex and Aaron, Tyler Sunagel and William Fallman assisted on the two goals for coach Greg Sears’ team.

The host team continued their dominance in the third frame by outscoring the visitors 3-1. After Casey Otis scored his first goal for Butte during the first five minutes, Nick Bradshaw and Luke Schleusner tacked on another to end their night with three goals each (hat trick). Nick Bradshaw garnered his fourth assist of the night and Anthony Johnson had his first on Schluesner’s third goal with 34 seconds remaining. Defenseman William Fallman, a first-year player who resides in Stockholm, Sweden, hit the back of the net for the second time tonight off the stick of Tyler Sunagel with under three minutes remaining for Great Falls’ only successful score after the second intermission. Silas Hughes was credited with the secondary assist. Cade Wessman for Butte compiled his fourth assist while Micah Williamson and Carson Streich produced their second assists and Tyler Tosch also assisted in the period.

Both teams took over 14 shots in each of the three 20-minute periods. Butte took 45 of their 67 shot attempts before the second intermission. Great Falls had 18 of their 49 shots-on-goal in the middle period.

The Americans were whistled for seven minor infractions while the Cobras accumulated six penalties with 33 minutes spent off the ice. Two of Butte’s nine scoring drives came while the Americans were in the penalty box. William Fallman’s last tally occurred while the Americans were on the penalty kill.

In addition to Nick Bradshaw’s (3 goals, 4 assists) and Luke Schleusner’s (3 goals, 2 assists), Cade Wessman scored once and dished out four helpers in the win. William Fallman led Great Falls with two scores and one assist in the loss.

Caleb Cross improved his record to 2-2-0-0 for Butte with his 46-save performance while allowing two scores in the second stanza and one in the final period of regulation. After defeating Butte in the first game of the year, Great Falls netminder Josh Koziol, took his third loss in four appearances with 29 saves in 28 minutes. Koziol’s second period replacement, Ryan Stowe of Calgary, Alberta, stopped 29 of 34 shots in his first action of the season.

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: In an exciting contest in Gillette, Wyoming, the #2 Gillette Wild (4-1-0-1) and the Granite City Lumberjacks, a Minnesota squad that plays in the NA3HL’s West Division, met for the second night on the ice. The action did not disappoint as both teams were locked at 3-3 after three periods and neither team was able to put the biscuit in the basket in overtime. A shootout was needed and after many missed opportunities, the Lumberjacks claim a 4-3 decision. Gillette’s Adam Severson, Todd Powassin, and Jace Johnson scored in regulation for Gillette. Kyle Mortenson and Jacob Slater each scored for Granite City during the shootout to help them remain undefeated in league play. Gillette’s Isaac Young was the only player to accrue a goal in the shootout loss (box score).

A four goal second period by the #1 Helena Bighorns elevated them to their eighth victory in eight games as they downed the #6 Bozeman Ice Dogs (2-5-0-0) 6-1 at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana on Saturday. Five Bighorn players had one goal and one assist including TJ Norris, Camden Cunningham, Harlan Wojtusik, Lyndon Orr, and Andrew Desking. Gabe Swanson picked up his second win this weekend (5-0 shutout win over Great Falls on Friday) with 13 saves. Cole Busher made the lone goal for the Ice Dogs (box score).

The other three Frontier Division teams (Yellowstone Quake, Sheridan (WY) Hawks, and the Badlands (SD) Sabres) sat idle this weekend.

NEXT CONTEST: The Americans and Cobras will also tangle on the ice for a home-and-away series beginning on Friday, October 7th when the Great Falls Ice Plex hosts both teams and then the following evening (Saturday, October 8th), the Butte Community Ice Center will be the site for their fourth matchup. HockeyTV will provide the coverage at 7:30PM (MST) each night.