By Tribune Sports Staff
January 2, 2021
Liam Bland’s second goal of the game, a dagger just 44 seconds into the overtime stanza, proved fatal for the Great Falls Americans Friday night after they dropped a 5-4 decision to the Missoula Junior Bruins in the second game of a six-game homestand at the Ice Plex on Gore Hill.
Saturday’s third game of the home set had the Helena Bighorns in town to face Great Falls as the local club starts to claw back after giving up their NA3HL Frontier Division lead to Sheridan. The match, slated for a 7:30 p.m. start, had not started as of this writing.
Bland, who had three points Friday, also found the net with 34 seconds gone in the third to give the third-place Bruins (12-6-2-0, 26 points) a 3-2 lead that lasted a tad less than three minutes. He assisted when Owen Miley made good on a power play opportunity, giving Missoula a 4-3 lead with 11:07 left in regulation.
Then, with Pablo Frank in the sin bin for the Bruins and 14 seconds left, Alex Jackson knotted the game at 4-4 off the help of AJ Benit and Bryson Fletcher.
Cole Komarek connected on a power play tally midway through the first period off assists from Jackson and Jake Hayes, giving the Americans their only lead of the match.
Missoula’s Will Hays went the distance in goal for the winners and had 46 saves, while the Americans’ Ben Monsivais had 25 deflections in the overtime loss. He came out of the game and the Americans had a two-skater advantage when Jackson knotted the score.
Thursday night, the Americans opened their homestand and closed out 2020 by shutting out Butte 7-0 behind Trever Mellen’s 31-save masterpiece. Fletcher had three points on the night, with two goals and an assist.
The overtime loss gives the Americans a record of 15-5-1-0 and 31 points, just one marker behind division-leading Sheridan (16-1-0-0, 32 pts.). The Americans are idle Sunday, but will host Missoula Monday at noon before an empty IcePlex under Cascade County’s COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Hockey: Americans stay within a point of division lead after OT loss to Bruins (January 2, 2021)