By Tribune Sports Staff
March 31, 2016
ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Great Falls Americans fell victim to a disastrous third period here Thursday night.
The Americans, up 1-0 heading into the third period, surrendered four goals in the final stanza, falling to the powerful North Iowa Bulls 4-1 in the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup.
The Americans, which lost their first contest in the last six games, dropped to 39-12-2 overall, and will skate against fellow Frontier Division member the Yellowstone Quake on Friday night at 6:30 Mountain Time for a spot in the tournament’s semifinal round.
Great Falls, which beat Point Mallard (Ala.) 2-1 on Wednesday night, would advance to semifinal action with a win over the Quake.
Saturday’s semifinal round, the top two placers in Pool A and Pool B, commences at 1 in the afternoon. Sunday’s finale is slated for noon.
North Iowa, the Silver Cup champions in two out of the last three years, improved its mark to 48-2-3 overall. The Bulls won the Central Division’s regular season and playoffs.
Great Falls’ Josh Larson, a center who’s in his last season of eligibility, broke a scoreless tie less than four minutes in Thursday night.
On an assist from linemate Tanner Congdon, the Alaska native managed to slide one past Bulls net minder David Johnson for a 1-0 advantage with 16:03 remaining in the first period.
Johnson fended off 19 of 20 American shots, while Great Falls goalie Jake Stephan redirected 29 of 33.
The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Larson, a smooth southpaw who’s come on during the postseason, upped his goal total to 19 on the season, including four in the past six games.
Great Falls took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, holding a 7-6 advantage in shots.
North Iowa roared back with an offensive onslaught in the second period.
Still, despite Great Falls being outshot 18-4 in the middle frame, Heimel’s Americans maintained a 1-0 edge heading into the third.
North Iowa’s Mitch Parsons, assisted by Austin Jackson and Sean Mallonee, provided the equalizer 1:31 into the final frame, knotting the game at 1-all.
After Great Falls killed off a Tegan Harrington cross-checking penalty midway through the third, North Iowa’s Brett Gravelle gave his team a 2-1 margin 34 seconds later, an unassisted tally with 8:10 left.
After Great Falls used its timeout with 3:11 left, the Bulls sealed the game in the next 1:14. Kohei Sato tallied a pair of goals, spanning 23 seconds in game time, to push the cushion out to 4-1 with 1:57 left.
In the end, Great Falls was called for four infractions to North Iowa’s zero.
The Bulls will close out Pool A play with Point Mallard on Friday night at 6.
Bulls 4, Americans 1
Great Falls 1 0 0 – 1
North Iowa 0 0 4 – 4
First period – 1. Great Falls, Josh Larson (Tanner Congdon) 3:57.
Second period – No scoring.
Third period – 2. North Iowa, Mitch Parsons (Austin Jackson, Sean Mallonee) 1:31. 3. North Iowa, Brett Gravelle (unassisted) 11:50. 4. North Iowa, Kohei Sato (unassisted) 17:40. 5. North Iowa, Kohei Sato (Tom Lindgren) 18:03 (pp).
Shots on goal – Great Falls 7-4-9—20. North Iowa 6-18-0—33.
Power play opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-0. North Iowa 1-for-4.
Goalies (shots-saves) – Great Falls, Jake Stephan (L, 33-29). North Iowa, David Johnson (W, 20-19).
T – 2:09.
Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Third period woes doom Americans, lose to North Iowa (March 31, 2016)