By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 5, 2016 — The second-place Great Falls Americans (9-3-1-2) have defeated the third-place Gillette Wild (9-2-1-0) in two out of their three meetings this season including a 2-1 overtime thriller on Friday night.
Both teams are evenly match as all three contests have been decided by a single point.
After Brooks Mitzel’s score during the first period for Gillette gave them an early advantage, Tegan Harrington provided the equalizer 20 seconds into the middle period on Friday evening at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The contest went into overtime after neither team found the back of the net in the final period of regulation. Tanner Congdon received his sixth goal of the year 1:49 into the five-minute overtime to lift the Americans to their ninth win of the season.
Riley Holwegner scored two goals for the Gillette Wild including the game-winning goal in a 5-4 shootout victory over the Great Falls Americans on Saturday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Malachi Bushey from Great Falls also scored twice in the loss.
Spectators attending tonight’s game sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield received free seat cushions, light savers and can koozies if they stopped by their booth.
Great Falls and Gillette each scored once during the first twenty minutes of action in the second game of their two-game series in Great Falls. Brendan Jester dished off to Tegan Harrington for the Americans first points of the contest with 12:05 left on the clock. Jesse Johnson also helped set up the scoring drive. Gillette took advantage of their power play to get the puck by Americans net-minder Michael Hughes during the final 3:36 of the period. Riley Holwegner was credited with the game-tying score while Cade Boreing and Blake Kauth provided the assists. Both clubs each took nine first period shots.
Normunds Vibans, a native of Latvia, scored his first goal in an Americans uniform eleven minutes into the middle period to give the home team a 2-1 lead. Kody Thomas and Cameron Cunningham chipped in the assists. Later in the period, Gillette tied it back up at 2-2. Colt Johnson secured his sixth goal of the year for the Wyoming club. Cade Boreing added his second assist of the night and Jack Oberg picked up his first. Goaltenders Landon Anderson (Gillette) and Michael Hughes (Great Falls) each had eight saves after the first two periods.
Both teams traded a pair of goals in the final frame. Malachi Bushey regained the lead for the Americans on the power play opportunity set up by Matt Janke early in the third period. Bushey’s third goal of the season came at the 15:42 mark. The third tie of the game came a few minutes later as Nick Stockert sailed the puck by the Americans goalie. Brooks Mitzel and Tyler Tennant each gathered an assist. Bushey tallied another goal with under six minutes left in regulation to put the Americans back in the lead (4-3). Before the end of the period, the Wild would register another goal to send the game into overtime for the second straight night. Cade Boreing recorded the goal with assistance from Colt Johnson and Derrick Scoggins.
The five-minute overtime provided plenty of excitement but neither offense put the puck in the net so a shootout was necessary.
Gillette’s Riley Holwegner was the only player to score a goal during the one-on-one shootout against Americans goaltender Michael Hughes. Teammates Nick Stockert and Kyle Truax missed their opportunities. The trio of Danny O’Donnell, Malachi Bushey, and Tanner Congdon were not able to convert their shootout attempts.
This was the second shoot-out loss by the Great Falls Americans this year. Back on October 8th in Bozeman, Montana, they fell 5-4 to the Ice Dogs.
Each team converted one of their power play chances for a score. Riley Holwegner scored his in the first period for the Wild and Malachi Bushey had his power play goal in the third stanza. The eight total infractions by these two junior hockey rivals resulted in 19 minutes of penalty time.
Landon Anderson, the winning goalie for Wyoming, completed his night swatting away 33 of the 37 shots that were sent his way. Michael Hughes of Great Falls finished with 28 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans are idle next weekend (November 11-12) but return to action the following weekend. On Friday, November 18th, the Havre-based Glacier Nationals come to town to face the Americans at 7:30PM followed by a Saturday evening showdown with the Missoula Jr. Bruins.