Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 20, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (12-2-0-0) opened the 2018-19 NA3HL regular season in Missoula, Montana on September 7th where they challenged the Missoula Jr. Bruins (5-7-0-0). Jack Olson scored two goals and dished out two assists and Great Falls goaltender Drew Scites stopped all nineteen shots as they earned a 5-0 shutout win over the Bruins.
Since that meeting, second-ranked Great Falls has been impressive winning 11 of their 13 contests with the two losses coming against top-ranked Helena Bighorns. Meanwhile, Missoula is currently sitting in fourth place with two victories each over Butte (Cobras) and Gillette (Wild) and a win against the Bozeman Ice Dogs.
The Americans had their five-game win streak snapped by the Helena Bighorns last night. Would the Americans be able to start a new one or would Missoula hand the Americans their second consecutive defeat?
The Great Falls Americans scored three goals in a five-minute span including two 10 seconds apart to lift the home team to a 5-3 victory over the Missoula Junior Bruins on Saturday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The 585 spectators were treated to a hard-fought win for Great Falls.
The first period saw five pucks go into the net. The Americans secured a 3-2 advantage over the Bruins. Missoula registered the first goal of the contest with the Russia connection of Vadim Zubkov and Misha Akatnov. Zubkov provided the assist on Akatnov’s goal as the puck sailed into the net over Great Falls netminder Drew Scites 39 seconds into the game. Ty Dittman chipped in one of his two assists. Missoula’s lead would be short-lived as Matt Janke scored his 10th goal 12 seconds after the Missoula score to even the game at 1-1. Jens Juliussen and Payton McSharry gathered the assists. The Americans took their first lead 10 seconds later when Juliussen recorded another assist with Payton McSharry picking up his team-leading 15th goal in 14 games. Four minutes would elapse before the home team increased their lead to 3-1 with Levi Mese getting the puck between the pipes with help from Garrett Peters. Missoula fought their way back to close the deficit to 3-2 when Bill Lucas found an open Devon Ament for the Bruins second scoring drive. Kyler Fullerton corralled an assist. The visiting squad attempted 20 shots and Great Falls had 11.
Luke Richesin accumulated his fourth goal of the season that gave the Americans a two-goal advantage nine minutes into the middle period. Jens Juliussen added his third assist in two periods and Matt Janke also set up the scoring play for the Americans. After the lone score, Great Falls and Missoula had many opportunities to score but could not light up the lamp. Great Falls out-shot Missoula 19-13 in the second stanza.
Alex Suchomlin put the Americans in control with his unassisted goal with 13:29 remaining. Missoula would net their third and final goal with 19 seconds left when Cade Insko of Butte tallied his fourth goal with assistance from Vadim Zubkov and Ty Dittman.
Great Falls ended the game with four of the five total penalties, but Missoula couldn’t find a way to put the biscuit in the basket. Missoula had one minor penalty in the second period. After sixty minutes, Great Falls out-shot the visiting team 45-42 including 15 in the final period.
Drew Scites improved to 7-1 in the net for Great Falls and finished with 39 saves while allowing two goals in the opening period and another in the third. Evan Williams ended the contest with 40 saves for the Bruins
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans remain at home for a Friday evening (October 26th) rematch with the Helena Bighorns, who defeated Great Falls twice this season. The puck drops at 7:30PM from the Great Falls Ice Plex. Great Falls will travel to Missoula, Montana on Saturday, October 27th to face the Bruins at 7:05PM from the Glacier Ice Rink.
Additional Media Coverage: October 22, 2018: Great Falls Tribune: Americans bounce back to knock off Bruins; tied in points with Helena