By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., December 12, 2014 — The Great Falls Americans (21-3) and the Gillette Wild (18-8-1) renewed their rivalry after both teams participated earlier this week at the NA3HL Showcase Hockey Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota.
The Americans posted three victories against the Minnesota Flying Aces, St. Louis Jr. Blues and the Point Mallard (AL) Ducks while Gillette returns after completing a 1-2 record at the Showcase with their only win coming against the Cincinnati Swords on Monday.
It was another battle between the top two teams in the Frontier Division on Friday night in Great Falls as the Americans hosted the Gillette Wild for game one of a two game weekend home series. Prior to this game, Great Falls has won all four matchups this season by out-scoring the Wyoming team 13-5.
After a scoreless first period, Gillette scored three of their five goals in the final period as Gillette blanked the Americans 5-0 on Friday night in Great Falls. The 456 fans saw their team’s winning streak end with six straight victories. Great Falls lost for just the third time this season (21-3) with all three of them coming at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
Both goaltenders never allowed any shots to go by them during the opening period. Great Falls’ Lauren Massie and Gillette’s Alex Feese swatted away a total of 21 shots before the first intermission.
The Wild took a two goal lead during the second period as both Alex King and Brandon Beard picked up goals for the visitors from Wyoming. Wyoming native Alex King scored the unassisted goal during the first two minutes of play. Gillette’s second goal occurred at the 6:21 mark as Beard got the puck by Americans goaltender Lauren Massie with assistance from RJ Yusko and Mitchell McEwan. The Wild took 17 shots to Great Falls’ 11 in the middle period.
Gillette’s offense put up three third period goals while the Americans struggled to find the back of the net. Kyle Traux increased the Wyoming team’s lead to 3-0 with his goal midway through the last period of regulation. TJ McMinn, a Wilsall, Montana native, scored the fourth goal as Bryce Mitzel assisted on both scoring plays. Kyle Traux also was credited with his first assist of the game on McMinn’s score. Alex King picked up his second goal of the evening (and Gillette’s final goal) off a pass by Lance Pennington and Brandon Beard with two minutes remaining on the clock.
Both teams saw no power play chances in the penalty-free game.
Great Falls finished with 37 of the game’s 70 shots on goal with 13 of them coming in the first and third periods.
Alex Feese stopped all 37 shots taken by the Americans offense for the winning team. Lauren Massie ended his night with 28 saves while allowing the five goals in the final forty minutes of action.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will challenge the Gillette Wild in the second game of the weekend series on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at 7:30PM at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – NO SCORING
Second Period – 1, Gillette, Alex King (unassisted), 2:17. 2, Gillette, Brandon Beard (Mitchell McEwan RJ Yusko), 13:39.
Third Period – 3, Gillette, Kyle Traux (Bryce Mitzel), 9:46. 4, Gillette, TJ McMinn (Bryce Mitzel, Kyle Traux), 12:34. 5, Gillette, Alex King (Lance Pennington, Brandon Beard), 17:56.
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 37, Gillette 33.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-0, Gillette 0-for-0.
Attendance – 456
Additional Media Coverage: December 13, 2014: Great Falls Tribune: Gillette stops Americans’ win streak