From Tribune Sports Staff
March 21, 2019
HELENA – Darren Donovan scored two goals and assisted on two others, and Nicholas Noel sealed the game with a late empty-net goal as the Helena Bighorns took Game One of the best-of-3 NA3HL Frontier Division Championship Series with a 5-3 victory over the Great Falls Americans Thursday night at the Helena Ice Arena.
The Americans must win Game Two Friday night at 7:30 at the Great Falls IcePlex to force a deciding Game Three Saturday night in Helena.
Ian Zaleski and Elliot Plourde each scored in the opening stanza, and the Bighorns had a 3-0 advantage 13 minutes into the middle period when George Nuutinen broke the ice with his second goal of the playoffs, assisted by Jack Olson and Justin Ohnstad.
Donovan made it 4-1 when he got his second tally almost two minutes later, then Luke Richesin took a Olson feed and buried it 43 seconds later.
Payton McSharry, with help from Cody Dearing and Jens Juliussen, made it 4-3 atb 8:59 of the third, on a major five-minute power play when Henry Kipper was ejected for checking from behind just four minutes earlier.
Noel’s empty netter, with 1:09 left, came 23 seconds after the Americans pulled backup goalie Viktor Wennberg to gain an extra skater.
Drew Scites started in goal for the Americans, giving up a four goals in periods one and two.
Carver Thompson earned the win for Helena, stopping 43 of the 46 shots he saw.
Great Falls 0 2 1 – 3
Helena 2 2 1 – 5
First period – 1. HEL, Ian Zaleski (Darren Donovan, Justin Sullivan), 10:57. 2. HEL, Elliot Plourde (Donovan), 13:02.
Second period – 3. Donovan (Sullivan, Plourde), 3:41 (PP). 4 GF, George Nuutinen (Jack Olson, Dylan Olson), 13:00. 5. HEL, Donovan (Valary Dietz, Sullivan), 14:55. 6. GF, Luke Richesin (J. Olson), 15:38.
Third period – 7. GF, Payton McSharry (Cody Dearing, Jens Juliussen), 8:59. 8. HEL, Nicholas Noel (Rikards Groskops, Mikhail Gavrilenko), 18:51 (EN).
Shots on goal – GF, 14-17-15 – 46. HEL, 14-18-11 – 43.
Power play opportunities – GF 1-for-3. HEL, 1-for-2.
Goalies-saves – GF, Drew Scites (L), 28 saves, 32 shots; Viktor Wennberg (3rd/0:00; 10 saves, 10 shots). HEL, Carver Thompson (W), 43 saves, 46 shots.
Time – 2:34. Att – 856.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans drop Game One in Helena; must-win Game 2 Friday at IcePlex (March 21, 2019)