By Steve Schreck, Tribune Sports Writer
January 31, 2014
The Great Falls Americans held on in the third period to beat the Gillette Wild 3-2 on Friday night in front of 1,016 fans.
The Americans were outshout 54-32 for the game, and 22-4 during the final 20 minutes, but Erik Powell stood tall, stopping 52 shots. Cody Page, Tanner Doty and Brady Christiaens all scored for the Americans. Great Falls moved to 29-7-2 on the season.
“I think they came out charging in the third period and Powell stood on his head at the end,” said head coach Jeff Heimel. “ … I don’t think we played bad; we just haven’t been putting a lot of pucks in the net. But when you play good defense and don’t give up too much either, you have a chance to win every night.”
The Americans missed several chances to widen their lead throughout the game.
Halfway through the first period, the Americans scored from point, but the goal was immediately waved off because they let the puck slip just outside the blue line.
Less than a minute later, Johnathan Carpenter cruised in all alone on a breakaway but hit the right goal post as the majority of 1,016 fans in the Great Falls IcePlex cheered thinking it was a goal.
And Lucas Lomax scored with 15 seconds left in the second period, but the goal was disallowed as well.
“The same things happened on Friday night — a lot of loose pucks lying in front of the net that we just couldn’t quite get to,” said Heimel when asked about the two disallowed goals and the shot off the post.
Cody Page, 35 seconds into the game, off a great pass from Zach Mese that didn’t break Page’s stride, cruised into the Wild’s zone on a one on one and released a laser wrist shot that went top shelf, his 19th of the season.
“We just broke (out of the zone) and Mese found me at about the red line,” said Page. “ … I just pulled (the puck) back and tried to shoot it as hard as I possibly could, and luckily it went in.”
With 3:51 left in the first period, Gillette’s Moco Willis ripped a blast from the point and scored on a screened Powell, knotting the score up at one. Tanner Doty scored three minutes into the second period to take the 2-1 lead. That was followed by Gillette’s Will Fobair’s goal halfway through the middle frame.
Four minutes later, after Lucas Lomax drew an interference penalty, Brady Christiaens tossed a back-hander toward the Wild net, which slipped by goaltender Michael Kitts and made the score 3-2. Great Falls outshot the Wild 18-10 in the second period.
The Americans led 3-2 going into the third, and Powell was the difference in the final period, stopping all 22 shots.
“He just comes to play every day,” said Heimel. “He’s a difference maker, and it’s really nice when you can have a defensive error here or there, and he’s right there to just back you up. It keeps things going. He’s kept us in a lot of hockey games this year. It’s been pretty cool.”
Page said the same about his goaltender.
“He definitely got the win for us,” Page said. “He made some big saves at big times. It’s kind of what he does. He’s great for us.”
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: AWHL Hockey: Americans edge Gillette before crowd of 1,016 (January 31, 2014)