Frontier Finals: CHAMPS!!! Great Falls earns two-game sweep over Yellowstone

By Kevin Scott

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

CODY, Wyo., March 26, 2016 — In Game 1 of the 2016 NA3HL Frontier Divisional Finals on Thursday night in Great Falls, the Americans (38-11-2) racked up three first period goals and kept the Yellowstone Quake (37-11-4) from scoring until the final minute of the third period. Great Falls registered a 4-1 victory over the Wyoming team to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series.

Great Falls held a three game winning streak before Game 2 tonight with two wins against the Gillette Wild in a two-game sweep in the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals.

Tyler Garcia, a forward from Anchorage, Alaska, scored two back-to-back goals including the go-ahead score in the third period to lift the visiting Great Falls Americans to a 5-4 win over the Yellowstone Quake in Game 2 of the best-of-three Frontier Divisional Finals. The 550 spectators saw a game that went back-and-forth during the first two periods with both teams fighting hard to win.

The win earned the two-time Frontier Division champions a spot in next week’s 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament to be played from March 29 through April 3 at the Canlan Ice Arena in Romeoville, Illinois. The championship tournament features the six league champions plus two Silver Cup Wild Card teams. The six league champions include the Twin City (Minnesota) Steel (West Division), Metro (Michigan) Jets (East Division), North Iowa Bulls (Central Division), Point Mallard (Alabama) Ducks (South Division) and the St. Louis (Missouri) Jr. Blues (Midwest Division). Despite the loss, the Yellowstone Quake (Frontier Division) will be the #2 Wild Card and the Texas Jr. Brahmas (#1 Wild Card, South Division).

Great Falls put the first points on the board right away as Arseny Ivanov dished it off to teammate Tanner Congdon 33 seconds into the game to give the Americans the early lead. Jesse Johnson also assisted on the scoring play. Nicholas Elliot tied the contest for Yellowstone less than three minutes later with assistance from Mason Stewart and former Billings Bull standout Tristan Henrichs. The game would go back-and-forth for the rest of the period. Will Landsverk put the Quake in front (2-1) midway through the first. Mason Stewart picked up his second assist of the evening and Manuel Manero added his first. Wade Wylie and Tanner Congdon set up the scoring drive for Josh Larson who connected for his 18th goal of the season to tie the game again with 4:42 remaining in the period. Yellowstone found the back of the net before the end of the period. Nick Greene scored on the only power play to give the Quake a 3-2 advantage with 54 seconds on the clock. Reed Kelly and Matt Runyon each chipped in one assist.

The Americans would out-score the Quake 2-1 during the second stanza. First, Adam Apangalook put the puck in the net thanks to a pass from Wade Wylie. Reed Kelly connected on Yellowstone’s second successful scoring drive via a power play five minutes into the second. Jake Dickison provided the assist for the top-ranked Wyoming squad. The Americans made sure to score once more so that the game would be tied at 4-4. Tyler Garcia got the puck by Yellowstone goaltender Garret Matz before the second intermission. Josh Larson had his first assist while Tanner Congdon provided the second. Great Falls out-shot Yellowstone 36-28 including taking 22 shots in the middle period.

The final period remained tied at 4-4 until the final four minutes of regulation when Tyler Garcia secured the go-ahead goal off the stick of Miles Giorgione for the Americans fifth point of the night. Tegan Harrington also assisted on the play. The Americans defense held the Quake offense scoreless the rest of the way with neither team incurring any penalties in the final twenty minutes of play.

After Yellowstone out-shot Great Falls 20-14 in the first period, the Americans totaled 35 shots in the final two periods while limiting the Quake to 19. The visiting team from Montana did allow the home team to score two power play goals on three chances. Yellowstone kept Great Falls from scoring on any of their four power play opportunities.

In addition to Tyler Garcia’s two goals, Great Falls was led by three players including Tanner Congdon (2 goals, 1 assist), Josh Larson (1 goal, 1 assist), and Wade Wylie dishing out two assists.  Reed Kelly led the way for the Quake with one goal and one assist and Mason Stewart tallied two assists.

The playoff contest saw a total of 7 minor infractions for 14 minutes.

Two nights after having 24 saves, Americans goalie Jake Stephan accumulated 35 saves in the game-clinching victory. Garret Matz got the start for Yellowstone and made 44 saves on 49 shots.

NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will begin play at the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Tournament at the Canlan Ice Arena in Romeoville, Illinois starting on Wednesday, March 30th through April 3rd. The round robin tournament features two pools (Pool A and Pool B). The top two in each pool will play in the semifinal round on Saturday (April 2nd) with the winners facing off for the NA3HL championship on Sunday, April 3rd. For more information about the Silver Cup Tournament, please click here.

Additional Media Coverage: March 26, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans defeat Quake, win Frontier Championship