By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 19, 2022 — Fresh off a 4-3 shootout victory over the top-ranked Gillette (WY) Wild (16-1-0-2) on Friday night in Great Falls, the #5 Great Falls Americans (9-8-0-0) were looking to even the season series at 2-2 during Saturday’s primetime matchup.
On Friday, Great Falls and Gillette each scored three goals apiece after the sixty-minute contest. After a five-minute overtime came and went without any scoring, both squads needed a shootout to decide a winning team. Great Falls’ William Fallman and Silas Hughes each went one-on-one with Gillette’s netminder Dominic Hite and scored. Meanwhile, Isaac Young, Jace Johnson and Anthony Foster faced off with Americans goalie Josh Koziol with only Anthony Foster lighting up a lamp. Silas Hughes’ score was the eventual game-winner and gave the Americans their first taste of victory in three tries against the Frontier Division leading Wild (game story).
Alec Waller and Sky Solig combined for two goals and four assists to help the #1 Gillette (WY) Wild bounce back from a rare Friday loss to claim a 4-1 win over the #5 Great Falls Americans during Saturday’s junior hockey action at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Tyler Sunagel racked up the only goal for the Americans in the third frame.
The Wild had a one-goal advantage after the first period concluded. The Minnesota connection of Sky Solig, Anthony Foster and Alec Waller helped provide the scoring for the Wild. Sky Solig answered with his 15th goal and Anthony Foster and Alec Waller set up the lone (power play) goal midway through the first (stanza). One goal was made on 22 total shots between these two clubs.
Gillette continued their shutout through the second period as Alec Waller created his seventh scoring drive of the season at the 6:23 mark of the middle period. Josef Lalli and Sky Solig picked up the assists for the 2-0 lead and the only score of the second stanza. Four power play opportunities went unanswered between the Americans and Wild. Gillette’s offense contributed 22 of the 27 shots-on-goal.
The Americans pulled within one goal (2-1) halfway through the last period of regulation. Tyler Sunagel netted his fourth goal when his slapshot went around Gillette goaltender Jake Turek. Great Falls’ first score of the night came with eleven minutes remaining. Minutes later, the Wild added their third score to increase their lead to 3-1. The Wild took advantage of the power play and Saizha Norwegian lit up the lamp thanks to a pass from Alec Waller and Sky Solig. Before the contest ended, the Wild secured their fourth goal on another power play chance. Jace Johnson put in his 23rd score with assistance from Adam Severson and Isaac Young.
The Wild outshot the Americans in all three periods to finish with 53. The host team acquired half of their 30 shots in the third frame.
Power play opportunities proved to be a key factor in Gillette’s win. They scored three of their four goals while the Americans were in the sin bin. The Americans squandered their eight power play chances. Each team committed ten infractions.
It was Jake versus Jake in the net for Saturday’s fourth meeting between Great Falls and Gillette. Jake Turek added his sixth win in seven games (6-0-0-1) by turning away 29 shots and allowing one third period goal. Meanwhile, Jake Regan (Great Falls), playing in just his third contest, suffered his first loss and managed 49 saves.
NOTES: The Buffalo Wild Wings location in Great Falls is showing all the Great Falls Americans games that occur for the rest of the 2022-23 season in their restaurant. Please stop by their location at 117 Northwest Bypass and grab your favorite beverage, food and join your friends and show your support by watching the home and away contests while enjoying some excellent food.
Also, the Great Falls Americans have rescheduled their road game against the Helena Bighorns that was postponed on Saturday, November 5th due to a referee shortage for the contest. The makeup contest is set for Wednesday, November 23rd at 7:05PM (MST) from the Helena Ice Arena in Helena, Montana.
FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: The second-ranked Helena Bighorns (14-4-1-1) split their weekend series against their closest competitor, the #3 Butte Cobras (10-9-1-0) by posting a 5-2 win in Helena, Montana. Helena held a 4-0 lead heading into the third period before Butte racked up two goals to cut into the Bighorns lead but it was not enough. Harlan Wojtusik gathered two goals and teammate Tyler Bloom chipped in two assists for the Bighorns 14th win in twenty contests. Marek Andrews, who came to the team this weekend, finished with 36 saves as the winning netminder. Nick Bradshaw and former Great Falls American Patrick Crooks each garnered one lamplighter for the Cobras. Braylon Rogers and Nikolai Wallery combined for 51 saves for the visitors (box score).
The #4 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (11-8-1-0) earned the weekend sweep over the Badlands (SD) Sabres (5-12-2-1) in Sheridan, Wyoming on Saturday night. It was Ryan McKenna’s night for Sheridan as he added two goals and one assist to his resume in the 6-1 romp for the home team. Izaiah Phillips scored the lone goal during the second stanza for Badlands. Thomas Mellenthin was nearly perfect by swatting away 32 of the 33 shots he faced against the Sabres offense. Brady Devries and Oger Hunter combined for 44 saves with Devries falling to 4-2-1-0 on the season (box score).
The #8 Bozeman Ice Dogs (6-13-0-1) scored two goals in the first and second periods and secured their second win in two days against the #6 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (6-11-2-1) at Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana. Owen House, Bodie Shepardson, Chris Porciuncula and Duncan Needham got in the scoring column for Bozeman head coach Mike Perkins’ squad. The 4-1 win gave Ice Dogs netminder Cam Milewski his second win of the weekend and fifth overall victory. The California product amassed 36 saves. Yellowstone’s Wyatt O’Donoghue created the goal for the Quake in the middle stanza. John Hughes had 29 saves for Wyoming (box score).
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will play three contests in four days during the week of Thanksgiving. Great Falls will travel to Helena, Montana on Wednesday, November 23rd for their makeup contest against the #2 Helena Bighorns live on HockeyTV starting at 7:05PM (MST) from the Helena Ice Arena.
Great Falls has eight home dates remaining on their 2022-23 NA3HL regular season schedule mixed in with 18 road contests. The Americans will host the Sheridan (WY) Hawks on Thanksgiving Weekend for a pair of games starting at 7:30PM (MST) nightly on Friday, November 25th and Saturday, November 26th. HockeyTV has your viewing needs covered and fans can watch on the official NA3HL streaming platform shortly before game time with a paid subscription.