By Grady Higgins, Tribune Sports Writer
October 30, 2015
The winning streak continues for the Americans.
Ricards Bernhards put Jeff Heimel’s squad over the top with 50 seconds remaining in the game to give Great Falls a 3-2 win over the Helena Bighorns in a NA3HL Frontier league battle. The Americans have now won five games in a row.
Great Falls (10-2) sits in first place in the Frontier and the Bighorns (6-5) are in third.
Mitchell Ramstad led the Great Falls offense with two goals and Tanner Congdon served up two assists.
Ramstad, who was traded from Helena to Great Falls earlier in the season, said it felt great to knock off his old team.
“Honestly, it was pure joy,” Ramstad said. “Felt good to get a win off of these guys. They’re our huge rival. It’s always great to get a win against them.”
Heimel said minus some errors in the second frame, the Americans played a solid game.
“I thought we played a good hockey game,” Heimel said. “We just had some mental lapses in the second period. I don’t think we played bad, we just gave up some high-quality scoring opportunities but we stayed calm, refocused and got back into it.”
Ramstad praised Congdon for dishing out some nice passes.
“Tanner Congdon played amazing tonight,” Ramstad said. “He set me up for both of those goals and I couldn’t have done it without my line mates. It feels great.”
The Americans controlled possession for the most part in the opening period, scoring on two goals from Ramstad to take an early 2-0 lead.
Ramstad’s first came with 13:25 left in the first on a back-hand shot, assisted by Congdon and Tegan Harrington. The forward put his team up two goals with just over three minutes left, with Congdon again chipping in the assist along with captain Connor Barta.
Blake Miller and Josh Larson both spent time in the box for minor infractions, but the Bighorns were unable to capitalize on the ensuing power plays, the latter of which spilled over into the second.
The Bighorns picked up their play in the second stanza, scoring two goals to knot the game.
Helena cut into the Great Falls lead less than three minutes into the period when Gavin Lubin sunk a point-blank score on an assist from Matt Blassic and Michael Ballard to make it 2-1.
The Americans failed to net a score during a five-on-three power play late in the frame, as Helena was able to clear the puck.
Ryan Daugherty provided the equalizer shortly after, slipping in a short-handed goal for the Bighorns with less than two minutes remaining in the second.
Great Falls put together several dangerous chances in the third period, including two rocket-shots by Stevan Goran, but Helena goalie Grant Martens held strong.
With time winding down under a minute, Bernhards played the hero, sending a shot from Josh Larson past Martens for the game-winner.
Heimel said everything came together in the final minute.
“We continued to work to get a three-on-two,” he said. “The best part was we had three guys moving quickly up the ice, driving to net, everyone was driving hard to the post where they should be and the rebound showed up and there you go.”
Ramstad said Great Falls has been playing great team hockey throughout the winning streak.
“We’ve just been keeping it simple,” Ramstad said. “Winning battles, winning races to the puck. Everything is just going our way right now. We’re looking to keep going.”
Heimel said although the Americans are playing well throughout this stretch, they can’t get too far ahead of themselves.
“It’s always a positive thing winning hockey games,” Heimel said. “We been just trying to put our best foot forward but it’s a long season. You’re only a few injuries away from being in a bad spot. It’s a good feeling but it takes a long time to be where we need to be and win games in the playoffs.”
The Americans move on to face Helena again Saturday night in Helena. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
Helena 0 2 0 — 2
Great Falls 2 0 1 — 3
Great Falls – Mitchell Ramstad (Tanner Congdon, Tegan Harrington) 6:34
Great Falls – Mitchell Ramstad (Tanner Congdon, Connor Barta) 16:32
Helena – Gavin Lubin (Matt Blassic, Michael Ballard) 2:33
Helena – Ryan Daugherty(short handed) (John Greer, Bryan Knesel) 18:25
Great Falls – Ricards Bernhards (Josh Larson, Adam Apangalook) 19:10
Helena – Jack Dolan – (Hooking) (622A,B), 2 MIN, 9:44
Great Falls – Blake Miller – (Interference) (624A), 2 MIN, 12:21
Great Falls – Josh Larson – (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) (601A), 2 MIN, 19:03
Helena – Connor Dunn – (Tripping) (638A), 2 MIN, 0:29
Helena – Gavin Lubin – (Interference) (624A), 2 MIN, 16:06
Helena – Tom Pratl – (Interference) (624A), 2 MIN, 17:17
Helena – Ryan Daugherty – (Elbowing) (610A,B), 2 MIN, 7:47
Great Falls – Arseny Ivanov – (Tripping) (638A), 2 MIN, 8:44
Helena – Cody Vanthournout – (Interference) (624A), 2 MIN, 14:32
Great Falls – Brendan Jester – (Interference) (624A), 2 MIN, 19:48
Helena: Grant Martens 36 shots, 33 saves. Great Falls: Jake Stephan, 30 shots, 28 saves.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans top Bighorns (October 30, 2015)