Ellingson’s overtime goal gives Bighorns 4-3 victory over Great Falls

Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 12, 2019 — So far this season, the Great Falls Americans have been quite successful in the win column; winning six of their past eight games before tonight’s rivalry game.

Great Falls (6-2-1) and the Helena Bighorns (4-6-0-0) have faced each other twice this season with the Americans besting their rivals 5-2 (September 28th) and 4-2 (October 11th) in Great Falls.

During Friday’s (October 11th) contest, Great Falls trailed 2-1 before the second intermission but outscored the Bighorns 3-0 in the final twenty minutes to take a 4-2 decision. Newcomers Jake Hayes and Kellen Harris as well as Hendrik Robel and Levi Mese, returning players from the 2019-20 season all each found the back of the net. Viktor Wennberg stopped 40 of the 42 shots faced by the Bighorns offense as he won his fourth game of the season.

The host team was looking for their third straight victory against Helena on Saturday evening.

The Great Falls Americans and Helena Bighorns each scored three goals in the final two regulation periods to send the game into overtime. Helena’s Isaac Ellingson provided the game-winning score two minutes into the five-minute extra period to propel the Helena Bighorns to a 4-3 win over the Great Falls Americans during Saturday’s NA3HL junior hockey action at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Great Falls is 2-0-1-0 against Helena this season.

Both defenses came ready to play during the first period. The first twenty-minute period saw neither team capitalizing on any goals and no penalties were assessed. Despite no scoring, Great Falls took 14 shots and Helena put up 10 shots.

There was plenty of scoring in the second stanza. A span of 5:18 saw each team pick up two goals apiece. The visiting team chipped in the first goal three minutes into the period. Andrew Deskin, a Washington native, gathered his second score of the season with assistance from Dylan Ferreira and Darren Donovan. Two minutes after the Bighorns goal, Great Falls evened up the contest as Hendrik Robel and Kellen Harris set up Justin Ohnstad, who buried the puck in the back of the net for his third goal of the season. The Americans took a 2-1 advantage 41 seconds later when Bryson Fletcher answered with his fourth goal unassisted. The power play opportunity by the Bighorns midway through the period was successful on the scoreboard. Ukraine native Hlib Tkach sent the puck by Americans netminder Trever Mellen to tie up the rivalry game at 2-2. The two NA3HL squads skated away the rest of the period without scoring.

Great Falls’ Henry Chavez, a forward from San Jose, California, put the biscuit in the basket for his first goal in an Americans uniform to break the tie (3-2). His unassisted scoring opportunity came with 10:05 remaining. The Bighorns fought back and tied the game again as Johnny Baird secured the short-handed goal with 5:36 to go in regulation off the stick of teammate Alexander Bailey. Baird’s score sent the game into an extra five-minute overtime.

Prior to the overtime period, a Bighorns player received a five-minute game misconduct, so Helena was down a man to start the overtime. It didn’t matter as Isaac Ellingson scored on the short-handed goal as Hlib Tkach assisted on the game-winning score two minutes into the extra frame.

The two junior hockey clubs accrued four total infractions in the second and third periods accounting for 19 minutes in the penalty box. Helena’s second goal by Hlib Tkach was the only score via a power play as Helena went 1-for-4 and Great Falls failed to produce any scoring opportunities on their four chances.

Despite the losing effort, the home team led in shots-on-goal category in each of the three regulation periods and overtime. Coach Greg Sears’ team acquired 52 shots and Helena finished with 37 including the one winning shot in overtime.

Rylan Labrie picked up his first win of the season for Helena. Labrie (1-2-0-0) ended his night with 49 saves. Trever Mellen suffered his second loss (2-1-1-0) for Great Falls and racked up 33 saves in his fifth appearance.

FEEL GOOD STORY: According to an ABC/FOX Montana Facebook post, the Helena Bighorns bus broke down between Craig and Cascade, Montana on their way to the game against the Americans on Saturday. Great Falls Americans fans headed down Interstate 15  to pick up the Helena team and their gear so they could still make it to the game.  Click here to view the Facebook Post from ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB).

NOTE: It was announced at Friday’s game (October 11th) that next week’s (October 19-20th) home games against the Yellowstone (WY) Quake have new start times due to a conflict with the University of Providence’s men’s hockey game previously scheduled for the same time on Saturday night. Saturday’s (October 19th) contest will start at 3:00PM (MST) (instead of 7:30PM) and Sunday’s contest has been moved up to a 1:00PM start.

Also, the Great Falls Americans game on Saturday, October 26th at home against the Missoula Junior Bruins has been moved from 7:30PM to 3:00PM due to a conflict with the University of Providence men’s hockey game scheduled for 7:05PM. See chart below for updated schedule or click here to print out a revised full schedule.

2019 Great Falls Americans Updated Schedule Changes
Day/Date Opponent New Time Location
Saturday, October 19th vs. Yellowstone (WY) Quake 3:00PM Great Falls Ice Plex
Sunday, October 20th vs. Yellowstone (WY) Quake 1:00PM Great Falls Ice Plex
Saturday, October 26th vs. Missoula Jr. Bruins 3:00PM Great Falls Ice Plex

NEXT CONTEST: The Cody, Wyoming based Yellowstone Quake come to town next week for two games. The Americans will play host to the Yellowstone Quake on Saturday, October 19th for a 3:00PM puck drop and will also play them again on Sunday, October 20th at 1:00PM from the Great Falls Ice Plex. Catch all of the streaming coverage from both games provided by the “Voice of the Americans” Jeremy Williamson on the NA3HL’s official streaming website, HockeyTV.