By Tribune Sports Staff
March 18, 2016
BOZEMAN – Josh Larson scored both of Great Falls’ first-period goals Friday night as the Americans swept their best-of-three game NA3HL Frontier Division playoff series by defeating the Bozeman IceDogs 2-1 at the Haynes Pavillion.
Larson tallied both goals off assists from Tanner Congdon and Ricards Bernhards within a five-minute stretch, starting midway through the first stanza.
“You know, those guys have produced for us all season long,” Americans head coach Jeff Heimel said. “They showed up, and they were patient tonight.”
The Americans defense did all the rest, led by Jake Stephan between the pipes. Stephan redirected all but one of the 25 shots he faced, with Casey Gobel’s tally early in the third the only exception. Stephan was also the winning goalie when the Americans downed the IceDogs 2-1 in double overtime Thursday night at the IcePlex.
The Americans, who finished second to Yellowstone in the regular season, now await the winner of the series between the Quake and the Gillette Wild to decide the Frontier Division championship. Yellowstone knotted that series at a game apiece Friday night with a 6-4 win at Spirit Hall Ice Arena in Gillette. The deciding third game is Saturday night at Riley Arena in Cody.
And until that series is finished, Heimel has no idea when the next round will start. If Yellowstone wins, the Quake will have the home-ice advantage. If Gillette, the fourth seed, wins, the Americans will get it.
“I’m not complaining that (Yellowstone and Gillette) is playing three games, and we’re getting a day off,” Heimel said. “We’ve seen both teams numerous times this season, so we know what to expect. We’ll have a good game plan and we’ll be looking to put our best foot forward.”
Great Falls…2 0 0 – 2
Bozeman…0 0 1 – 1
First period – 1. Great Falls, Josh Larson (Tanner Congdon, Ricards Bernhards) 10:41. 2. Great Falls, Josh Larson (Tanner Congdon, Ricards Bernhards) 15:33.
Second period – no scoring.
Third period – 3. Bozeman, Casey Gobel (Daniel Liberko, Nicholas Thompson) 5:37
Shots on goal by period – Great Falls 12-2-10—24. Bozeman 8-2-15—25.
Power play opportunities – Great Falls 0-1. Bozeman 0-1.
Penalties – Great Falls 6:00 on three penalties. Bozeman 6:00 on three penalties.
Goalies-saves – Great Falls, Jake Stephan (W; 25 shots, 24 saves). Bozeman, Stephen Frank (L; 24 shots, 22 saves).
T – 2:17. A – 267.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Larson scores twice as Americans finish off Ice Dogs (March 18, 2016)