By Lee Vernoy, Tribune Sports Writer
March 17, 2019
GREAT FALLS –You only turn 21 once, and Payton McSharry will remember his 21st birthday many years after Sunday night.
McSharry celebrated his birthday by scoring a hat trick in the second period, the first goal snapping a 1-1 deadlock and the rest propelling the Great Falls Americans to a thrilling 6-2 victory over the Bozeman Icedogs, to give the Americans a 2-1 series win in the first round of the North American Tier 3 Hockey League’s Frontier Division playoffs at the IcePlex on Gore Hill.
With the win, the Americans advanced to the best-of-three division championship series against the regular season champion Helena Bighorns beginning Thursday night in Helena.
A crowd announced at 247 fans helped McSharry – assisted by Jens Juliussen – celebrate his third goal at 18:26 of the second stanza by throwing hats onto the playing surface.
But he shrugged off being called a hero: “I would say that our hero is the team, honestly. It’s not really about one individual player, it’s about all four lines coming together and rolling over a team.
“That’s what we did there tonight.”