By Kevin Scott
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GILLETTE, Wyo., September 25, 2021 — The #5 Great Falls Americans (1-1-2-1) were looking for some revenge on Saturday night after coming up short in a 6-5 setback to the #1 Gillette (WY) Wild (6-0-0-0) during Friday’s performance in Gillette, Wyoming.
The Great Falls defense could not find a way to stop Gillette’s Saizha Norwegian, who received a hat trick (3 goals) with one assist including the game-winning tally in the extra period to keep the Wild undefeated in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division standings. Gillette netminder Jake Turek recorded 37 saves.
Thomas Gazich accounted for two of the five goals for the Americans. Hunter Maschke (1 goal, 2 assists) and newcomer Tae Evans, who played the past two season with the Bozeman Ice Dogs, added one score. Garrett Weisenburger gathered three helpers and goaltender Zac Hattan stopped 43 of the 49 shots by Gillette’s offense.
Would the Americans pull off the upset on Saturday and get their second win of the season?
The Gillette (WY) Wild, the top undefeated team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division, earned the two-game sweep over the visiting Great Falls Americans for the second straight night in overtime as the home team edged Great Falls, 4-3 in Wyoming thanks to Tristan Baker’s score in the extra frame.
Gillette and Great Falls each scored once during the first 19 minutes of the first period. Gillette broke the tie with 52 seconds remaining to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. Brock Trboyevich secured the first goal for the Wild 5:34 into the period when Gillette native Easton Apodaca got the puck to Trboyevich for the tally. Ten minutes later, Micah Serino evened up the score (1-1) with his fourth goal of the season off the stick of Tyler Sunagel. The Wild, coached by former Great Falls Americans Associate Coach, Ethan Hayes, netted the final goal of the stanza when Declan Young and Nate Fanning assisted on Caleb Sanborn’s fourth goal of the season with less than a minute remaining. There was a difference in shot attempts by a wide margin as Wyoming took 24 of the 28 shots.
Early in the middle period, the home team racked up their third goal when Wild forward Declan Young lit up the lamp for the fifth time this season with assistance from Easton Apodaca and Tristan Baker. Great Falls pulled to within one goal (3-2) 44 seconds later when Hunter Maschke contributed his third score in five games with help from Henry Fusco and Tae Evans. Great Falls’ Hunter Maschke registered his second goal (fourth overall) with 97 seconds left before the second intermission. The equalizer was made possible by a third assist from Henry Fusco. Gillette’s offense took control by posting 46 shots in two periods while Great Falls had 16 with 12 coming in the second period.
The third frame saw both teams combine for 23 shots taken but neither team was able to break the 3-3 tie and take the lead, so a five-minute overtime was necessary for the second straight night between these two clubs in the NA3HL.
After having a quiet night against Great Falls on Friday night and not registering any goals or assists, Tristan Baker waited until the final 36 seconds left in overtime to score the goal to seal the win for Gillette. Declan Young and Caleb Sanborn earned the assists on the winning drive. This was the third overtime game for Great Falls (1-0-2) in five games this season. Great Falls also had one regulation setback to Yellowstone (5-3) back on September 10th and one shootout loss to Bozeman (Ice Dogs) on September 18th.
The offensive attack put on by the Wild continued to put pressure on Great Falls throughout the night by creating 63 shots and holding Great Falls to 26.
Both teams combined for eight minor infractions that resulted in 16 minutes spent off the ice with no power play opportunities.
Declan Young, Caleb Sanborn and Jack Orchard led the way for Gillette. Young and Sanborn each scored once and dished out two assists while goaltender Jack Orchard (3-0-0-0) had 23 saves while allowing three goals. Great Falls returning forward Hunter Maschke was one goal shy of a hat trick (2 goals) while Henry Fusco and Tae Evans accumulated two assists in the loss. In the net, Ben Winkler (0-0-1-0) took his first loss of the season but not before adding 59 saves to his resume.
NEXT CONTEST: Due to the ongoing repairs to the Great Falls Ice Plex, the Americans will reschedule their September 30th home game against the Helena Bighorns to a later to-be-announced date. The two games on Saturday (October 2nd) and Sunday (October 3rd) have been moved to Sheridan, WY. Those games will now be played on Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd with the puck dropping at 7:30PM (MST) each night from Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center. HockeyTV is where fans can stream every one of the Great Falls Americans games this season.