Frontier Finals: Americans season ends with overtime loss to Yellowstone

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

CODY, Wyo., March 25, 2017 — This is it for one of these two NA3HL Frontier Division squads.

The winner of this contest moves on to the 2017 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament (National Tournament) starting on Wednesday, March 29th with each of the eight divisional champions guaranteed three games during the round-robin tournament in Romeoville, Illinois. Each team plays Wednesday through Friday (March 29-31) with the Semi-finals set for Saturday, April 1st capped off with the championship contest on Sunday, April 2nd.

The losing team will call it a season and regroup and come back next season.

The Great Falls Americans (41-5-3-3) and the Yellowstone Quake (44-5-0-3) have each won one game apiece in the best-of-three Division Finals. In the first game on Thursday night, Great Falls traveled down to Cody, Wyoming and beat the Quake on their home ice, 2-1. Payton McSharry and Brendan Jester each scored one goal to edge the Quake. The following night, the two remaining squads in the Frontier Division made the trip back up to Great Falls for the second contest. After Ricards Bernhards scored early in the second period after a scoreless first period, Yellowstone ended the period by scoring three goals in a four-minute span to hold a 3-1 advantage. The Wyoming team scored the lone goal via an empty net score near the end of the final period to win 4-1.

Great Falls has advanced to the Silver Cup Tournament the last two seasons, would they be able to get another win in Wyoming and get another shot at getting a national championship or would they fall to the regular season champion, Yellowstone Quake and call it a season?

Yellowstone’s Hunter Ruschmeyer helped set up Cosimo Yapello’s game-winning score six minutes into overtime to help the top-ranked Quake to a 3-2 victory over the #2 Great Falls Americans during Saturday evening’s Game 3 of the best-of-three Frontier Divisional Finals. The 500 fans at Riley Arena witnessed the host team rally from a 2-1 deficit to tie the game in the third and score the game-winning goal in overtime.

After the scoreless opening period with one minor penalty on a power play called against Great Falls, the second stanza saw Great Falls score two out of the three goals. Midway through the period, Quake forward Max Doner gave his team the early lead with Ian Doner and Tony Dahlberg collecting the assists. During the final four minutes, Great Falls found the back of the net twice. Payton McSharry and Logan Parsley netted the goals while the assists went to Tanner Congdon, Danny O’Donnell and Tegan Harrington. Yellowstone held a 24-22 advantage in the shots-on-goal category after the visiting team took one more shot than the Quake (12-11) in the first period.

The Americans briefly held the lead heading into the third period. Thirty seconds into the period, Pablo Pantoja, a native of Madrid, Spain, scored the game-tying goal came off assists by Max Meyer and Hunter Ruschmeyer. The two teams skated the rest of the period without coming away with any points despite taking 26 total shots.

Six minutes into the twenty-minute overtime, Minnesota resident Cosimo Yapello scored his first goal of the playoffs to help the Yellowstone Quake escape with the win. Hunter Ruschmeyer added his fourth assist of the playoffs and second of the night.

A night after having a combined eight penalties resulting in 27 minutes of penalty time, the third game of the playoff series observed five penalties for 18 minutes. The five power play opportunities could not be converted into points.

Yellowstone and Great Falls each contributed over 10 shots during the first three periods but Yellowstone finished ten shots ahead of the Montana team (42-32).

The goaltenders from each team played the entire eighty minutes and are two of the top netminders in the league. Nick Nast (Great Falls) swatted away 39 of the 42 shots made by the Quake and Nick Ottenbacher (Yellowstone) allowed two goals and finished with 30 saves.

NOTES: Due to some bus issues, the game was delayed a half hour and didn’t start until 7:30PM. Tanner Congdon led the team in goals scored this season with 47, Danny O’Donnell was the assist leader with 47 and goaltender Nick Nast (23-4-2-1 record) finished with 897 saves. To view the entire list of stats for the Americans, please click here for forwards and defenseman and click here for goaltenders.

2016-17 Great Falls Americans Team Leaders
Player Season Stats Playoff Stats (5 games) Total Stats
Tanner Congdon 41 goals, 41 assists 6 goals, 4 assists 47 goals, 45 assists
Brendan Jester 34 goals, 38 assists 1 goal, 5 assists 35 goals, 43 assists
Payton McSharry 28 goals, 30 assists 4 goals, 3 assists 32 goals, 33 assists
Danny O’Donnell 20 goals, 46 assists 0 goals, 1 assist 20 goals, 47 assists
Nick Nast 733 saves

Record: 20-3-1-1

164 saves

Record: 3-1-1

897 saves

Record: 23-4-2-1

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans ended their 2016-17 season with a 41-5-3-3 record including twenty wins at the Great Falls Ice Plex, 21 wins on the road and three playoff victories.

Additional Media Coverage: March 25, 2017: Great Falls Tribune: Overtime goal ends Americans’ season