Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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MISSOULA, Mont., December 1, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (18-4-0-1) were hoping to end a two-game losing skid coming into this game when they lost two consecutive home games for the first time this season. The Gillette Wild defeated the Americans 4-1 two weeks ago and last night, the top-ranked Helena Bighorns overcame an early deficit to win 5-4 in a shootout over the Americans.
Great Falls has won four out of five encounters against the Missoula Jr. Bruins (11-10-0-0) with each team hosting three games. Helena has defeated Great Falls three times and Gillette and Missoula have also tasted victory over the second-ranked Great Falls Americans.
Cody Dearing scored two first period goals and Justin Ohnstad tallied two goals in the final period to lift the Great Falls Americans to a 7-3 win over the Missoula Jr. Bruins at the Glacier Ice Rink in Missoula, Montana on Saturday evening. Great Falls earned their eighth road victory of the season and more importantly, stopped their two-game losing streak.
Cody Dearing, a forward from Alaska, scored the first of his two first period goals midway through the opening stanza. Newcomer George Nuutinen received his fourth assist and Jens Juliussen added his 33rd assist with 9:36 on the clock. A very quick goal six seconds later by the Bruins tied up the contest at 1-1. Trevor Prince had a hand in all three of the scores for Missoula. The Alaska forward added his first score as a member of the Bruins as Vadim Zubkov created the scoring drive. Five minutes later, the visiting team scored twice in less than a minute to regain control. Trent Cowden and Cody Dearing lit up the lamp near the end of the period to lead 3-1. Great Falls native Braxton Lorenz registered two assists while Payton McSharry contributed one. Dearing’s score was the first of two goals while the Bruins were in the penalty box. Missoula cut into the lead by the Americans with 75 seconds remaining in the period when Trevor Prince got the puck to Vadim Zubkov for the power play score over Great Falls netminder Viktor Wennberg.
The Americans didn’t wait around too long after the first intermission before finding the back of the net.
George Nuutinen, who came over this week from the Coulee Region Chill (Wisconsin) in a trade, gathered his second assist when his pass to Jens Juliussen was successful in the net two minutes into the period. Great Falls stretched their lead to 5-2 57 seconds after Juliussen scored. The short-handed scoring drive was made by Brandon Peterson, who was credited with his first goal of the season with assistance from Jack Olson and Nate Simpson. Missoula put the biscuit in the basket as Vadim Zubkov skated around and produced his 23rd goal for the Bruins off the stick of Trevor Prince. Missoula trailed 5-3 to Great Falls. The final 15 minutes many attempts on the goal were made by each team, but none were able to find a way in. The Americans of coach Greg Sears took more than double the shots attempted by Missoula (43-20) after two periods.
Defenseman Justin Ohnstad scored two goals in the final ten minutes of the third period to seal the victory for the Americans. Jack Olson and Payton McSharry each picked up their second assists in the game while Lindros Beard and Dylan Olson had one assist apiece.
Great Falls finished with 59 shots including 24 in the first twenty minutes. Missoula had a tough time trying to get shots off during the second and third periods when they fired off just six shots apiece to end the contest with 26.
The sixty-minute junior hockey contest saw each team capitalize on their power play chances. Great Falls’ Cody Dearing and Justin Ohnstad were awarded goals while Missoula was in the sin bin. Vadim Zubkov successfully made the only power play opportunity for coach Cliff Cook’s squad near the end of the first stanza. There were 14 penalties handed out during the contest with Great Falls whistled for eight with 16 minutes spent in the penalty box. Meanwhile, the home team had six penalties for 51 minutes including a 20-minute game misconduct call late in the third frame.
Viktor Wennberg ran his record behind the net to 8-1 this season by stopping 23 of the 26 shots taken by the Bruins. Evan Williams lost for the six time but not before making 52 saves for Missoula.
NEXT CONTEST: Butte (Cobras) and Helena (Bighorns) are the destinations for the Great Falls Americans next weekend (December 7-8). The Americans play for the first time in Butte, Montana when they challenge the Cobras at 7:30PM from the Butte Community Ice Arena on Friday evening. The following night, Great Falls will battle top-ranked Helena for the fifth time at 7:05PM from the Helena Ice Arena.
Additional Media Coverage: December 1, 2018: MTN Sports (KPAX): MontanaSports.com: Missoula Bruins defense gives up 7 goals to lose to Great Falls Americans
Additional Media Coverage: December 3, 2018: Great Falls Tribune: Americans stay Three Behind Helena After Weekend Split