By Lee Vernoy, Tribune Sports Writer
March 15, 2019
A zamboni broke down before the game, causing a 22-minute delay in getting Friday’s Game One between the Great Falls Americans and Bozeman Icedogs at the IcePlex started.
So, why not throw in a few extra minutes at the end?
Jack Olson scored the game-winning goal 4:40 into the first overtime, boosting the Great Falls Americans to a 3-2 win over the Bozeman Icedogs in Game One of their best-of-three series in the NA3HL Frontier Division playoffs at the IcePlex.
Olson took feeds from George Nuutinen and Nick Torres and put the puck right between the legs of Icedog goalie AJ Ruskowski to send the partisan crowd – the total was not announced – home deleriously happy.
“I raced the puck to the corner, beat the kid, and passed it up to Torres,” Nuutinen said. “And he found J.O. back door for a nice five-hole goal.”
Ruskowski had kept the Americans off the scoreboard for more than 2½ periods – 50 minutes and 35 seconds, to be exact – and held a 1-0 lead, earned when Luke McKay took a pass from Dominic Canic and scored with less than 90 seconds to go in the opening 20-minute stanza.
The Americans even failed to score when Bozeman’s Brock Finn was hit with a five-minute major penalty for cross-checking in the second period.
Then, 10:35 into the third period, Brody Boyce hit an unassisted goal to tie the match at 1-all.
The Americans thought they had it won when Garrett Peters, with help from Olson and Lindros Beard, scored at the 18:39 mark.
But, in the aftermath of his goal, Peters got hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and got sent to the penalty box for two minutes.
Bozeman would only need 68 seconds, though. With the power play and Ruskowski off the ice combined to give the Icedogs two extra skaters, Luke Hartage scored the tying goal with just 13 seconds left in regulation. Luke and Hazen McKay – both from Montana – assisted on Hartage’s tally.
Peters was able to come back on the ice when the goal crossed the red line, but then Hartage got tagged with an unsportsmanlike penalty, and he would spend two minutes in the sin bin, which carried over into the overtime session.
The Americans’ mentor said those penalties – to Peters and Hartage – were a first for him.
“All I can say, without getting myself in trouble, is those were super-bizarre,” first-year head coach Greg Sears said. “I’ve never seen anything like that.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere here. It was unfortunate for both teams. So … we should have won that in 60 (minutes).”
Even Americans’ goalie Drew Scites said the game should have never required an extra period.
“Kind of had a little deja vu from earlier in the season,” Scites said. “But we got it done in overtime, so I’m happy.
“All I was thinking was just keep the puck out of the net, do whatever it takes.”
“These guys were snakebit last year; same exact game, they lost in overtime,” Sears said. “And I just had the feeling that things were going to be different this time.
“It was a slow start. Obviously that first period wasn’t great for us, but I think that as the game grew, our confidence grew; that, ‘Hey, we’re fine. We’re going to get one here.’ They were super-positive on the bench, and just kept at it and kept at it. I had no question that we were going to score in overtime.”
Scites, from Plymouth, Minn., finished with 37 saves on 39 shots, and kept the Americans in it.
“I was just trying to win for the team, make the saves, and give them the best chance they can get to score a goal,” he added.
“We knew Bozeman would give us all we could handle,” Sears said. “That’s a good team; a good, young team, super-skilled.”
Game Two will be at the Haynes Pavillion in Bozeman Saturday night at 7:30. And that’s not going to be an easy task for the Americans.
“That’s a tough place to play,” Sears added. “They have some good hockey fans there; it’s a good hockey town.
“They’ll bring it again tomorrow night.”
Ruskowski, who took the overtime loss, saved 49 of the 52 shots he saw.
Game 3, if necessary, is back at the IcePlex Sunday at 7:30.
Americans 3, Icedogs 2, OT
Bozeman 1 0 1 0 – 2
Great Falls 0 0 2 1 – 3
First period – 1. BOZ, Luke McKay (Dominic Canic), 18:23.
Second period – No scoring.
Third period – 2. GF, Brody Boyce, 10:35. 3. GF, Garrett Peters (Lindros Beard, Jack Olson), 18:39. 4. BOZ, Luke Hartage (L. McKay, Hazen McKay), 19:47 (PP).
First overtime – 5. GF, Jack Olson (George Nuutinen, Nick Torres), 4:40
Shots on goal – BOZ, 13-15-11-0 – 39. GF, 13-19-16-4 – 52
Power play opportunities – BOZ, 1 for 4. GF, 0 for 3.
Goalies-saves – BOZ, AJ Roskowski (OTL), 49 saves, 52 shots. GF, Drew Scites (W), 37 saves, 39 shots.
Time of game – 2:38 (22 minute delay at start die to zamboni breakdown). Att – NA.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Olson’s OT goal a game-winner for Americans in Game 1 (March 15, 2019)