By Lee Vernoy, Tribune Sports Writer
March 11, 2016
The Great Falls Americans and Yellowstone Quake have been tooth-and-nail as the top two teams in the NA3HL Frontier Division all season long so it’s fitting that the two teams would meet in the final two games of the regular season with playoff seedings on the line. The Americans will host the two-game series Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 at the Ice Plex, and the ramificationsare plain: the Americans (33-10-2) trail the Cody, Wyo., based Quake (34-8-3) by three points.
If the Americans win both games, they finish first.
A split gives them no better than second, and two losses puts them in jeopardy of losing home-ice advantage during the first round of the Frontier Division playoffs.
“There’s a lot riding on this series,” Americans head coach Jeff Heimel said. “Best-case scenario is we’re the top team in the division. Worst case is we’re heading to Bozeman to play.”
Americans goalie Lauren Massie (16-6-1, 1.71 GAA) and the Quake’s Garret Matz (12-4-0, 1.78) are the top two goalies in the division, and are ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the entire NA3HL.
With 64 points, the Americans’ Tanner Congdon is the No. 3 goal scorer in the Frontier, trailing only Bozeman forward Kegan Couture and defenseman Nicholas Thompson, Heimel says his group is charged up, but not looking past the Quake.
Yellowstone has won four of the six games between the two teams this season.
“I have a lot of respect for the way (Yellowstone) has turned their season around,” Heimel said. “They’ve definitely earned the right to be there in the hunt for first.”
“We’re three points out with a chance to win it. And we’re excited to be there. It’s going to be a fun weekend, and we’re looking for good crowds both nights.”
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune (March 11, 2016)