By Kevin Scott
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BUTTE, Mont., October 30, 2021 — For the third time in four games, the #4 Great Falls Americans (7-5-2-1) and the #6 Butte Cobras (4-9-2-0) are meeting again this season.
Both coaching staffs are familiar with each other as Americans Head Coach and General Manager, Greg Sears had current Butte Cobras Head Coach Kirk Golden on his coaching staff for the 2020-21 season.
Great Falls is 2-0-0-0 against Butte this season at home. The Americans combined to outscore the Cobras, 10-5 in both wins. Jackson Henningsgard and Hunter Maschke each scored a goal and an assist in their home opener on October 22nd against the Cobras in a 4-1 win. Ben Winkler got the win in the net by stopping 35 of the 36 shots by Butte’s offense. Butte netminder Caleb Cross was the bright spot for the Cobras as he amassed 58 saves.
On Thursday, October 28th, both squads played again in Great Falls and the Americans faced a tougher Butte team but eventually picked up a 6-4 victory. Daniel Crutcher scored twice and added one helper while former Bozeman Ice Dogs standout Tae Evans was successful on two scoring drives in the win. Will Simpson recorded 20 saves. Nick Bradshaw led Butte with three points (2 goals, 1 assist).
Tonight, was Part Three taking place at the Butte Community Ice Center on Saturday evening as Great Falls finished up a ‘three games in three days’ weekend.
The #6 Butte Cobras took a 2-1 advantage into the third period over the #4 Great Falls Americans and held off a rally by the visiting team to win their first game over the Americans this season, 4-2 in a minor upset during NA3HL junior hockey action at the Butte Community Ice Center on Saturday night. Luke Schleusner led the winning side with two goals and an assist. Micah Serino was one goal short of a hat trick (2 goals).
The twenty-minute first period came and went quickly as there was one score and one minor penalty issued. The score by the Americans came on the only power play of the period when Silas Hughes found Micah Serino for the score during the first three minutes. Daniel Crutcher received his third assist of the season on the Americans first score of the night. Despite trailing, Butte’s offense outshot Great Falls 20-13.
Butte scored the equalizer midway through the second period. Luke Schleusner slapshot sailed through the Americans netminder Wyatt Olsonawski for his fifth goal of the season. Ross Biggerstaff and Nick Bradshaw set up the Cobras first scoring play. Before the period concluded, Butte forward David Hanny broke the tie with Tamer Billman and Quinn Nichols assisting on the scoring opportunity that came with three minutes remaining. The teams combined for 28 shots-on-goal attempts with Butte scoring on two of them before the second intermission.
Just like in the first period, Micah Serino scored for the Americans three minutes into the third frame to tie the contest at 3-3. Garrett Weisenburger and Petr Van Voorhis assisted on Great Falls second goal of the night. Nick Bradshaw broke the tie for the Cobras with assistance from Luke Schleusner and Jonathan Schoof with 7:26 to go in regulation. The home team added one more goal to ensure a victory with seven seconds remaining Cade Wessman and Nick Bradshaw got the puck to Luke Schleusner for the empty net score.
The Americans took 28 of their 45 shot attempts before the final period of regulation. Butte took 26 of their 46 shots after the first intermission.
Great Falls saw just two minor penalties on the night after a penalty-free first stanza. Butte was whistled for four penalties with 19 minutes spent off the ice with no power play chances by either squad.
Goaltenders Wyatt Olsonawski (Great Falls) and Dale Pfannenstein (Butte) each played sixty minutes for their respective teams. Pfannenstein celebrated his first win as a member of Butte’s junior hockey franchise. The Osseo, Minnesota native is now 1-2-0-0 and he finished with 43 saves. Olsonawski got the start and his first loss in two games this season. He acquired 42 saves. Two weeks ago, he won his first game as a member of the Americans by claiming a 10-3 win over the Sheridan Hawks in Wyoming.
NOTES: Butte’s win tonight moved them up one spot to No. 6 in the official Frontier Division standings. Great Falls remained at #4 despite their second loss in three games this week (see the league standings). Great Falls defeated Butte on Thursday in Great Falls, 6-4 but lost to the Bozeman Ice Dogs, 6-4 in a game that started late (10:43PM) and lasted until a few minutes before 1:00AM (MST) on Saturday morning.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans are home for five of their next seven contests, so fans have many opportunities to see them at the Great Falls Ice Plex in the month of November. First, Great Falls plays host to the Sheridan (WY) Hawks on Friday and Saturday, November 5-6, 2021, with the puck dropping at 7:30PM (MST) each night. HockeyTV will provide the coverage for each of the Americans games