Gillette’s offense breaks out in 9-4 win over Great Falls

NOTE: A Special Thanks to Kandi Rasmussen for providing the photos 

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 21, 2022 — The #4 Great Falls Americans (6-5-0-0) have six wins in ten contests this season after six weeks of NA3HL regular season competition in the Frontier Division. Great Falls has played three different opponents in that span including the #1 Helena Bighorns (0-2-0-0), #4 Butte Cobras (3-1-0-0), and the #8 Yellowstone (Cody, WY) Quake (3-1-0-0).

During the third week of October (21-22), the #4 Americans played host to the #2 Gillette (WY) Wild (9-1-0-1) on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Wild started the season by winning their first four contests (Bozeman Ice Dogs and Badlands (SD) Sabres) before playing against the NA3HL’s West Division, Granite City Lumberjacks (Sauk Rapids, Minnesota) where they fell in two contests on home ice. During the past two weeks, they defeated their in-state rivals, the Sheridan (WY) Hawks and the Yellowstone (Cody, WY) Quake two games apiece.

The Americans, one of four Montana squads in the NA3HL, are led by newcomers Alex Leaf with 1 goal and 12 assists (13 points), and William Fallman’s 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists). Jace Thompson, a returner from last season’s playoff squad, has scored five goals and dished out 7 assists. Josh Koziol and Nick Romahs have totaled six victories including four by Koziol. Koziol (4-4-0-0) has a GAA of 3.78 and tallied 342 saves.

The Wild are guided by former Great Falls Americans Associate Coach, Ethan Hayes, who is now in his third season at the helm of the Wild. Hayes spent 2018-2020 as an assistant to current Great Falls head coach Greg Sears. He has six players this season in the top 15 in the league in points including Anthony Foster (9 goals, 11 assists, 20 pts.), Jace Johnson (12 goals, 8 assists, 20 pts.), Sky Solig (6 goals, 13 assists, 19 pts.), Isaac Young (4 goals, 14 assists, 18 pts.), Adam Severson (7 goals, 10 assists, 17pts.), and Saizha Norwegian (5 goals, 12 assists, 17 pts.) and goaltender Jake Turek is the eleventh ranked goalie in the league with a Goals-Against Average (GAA) of 2.20. Turek is 3-0-0-1 with 136 saves and boasts a save percentage of 0.938.

The fourth-ranked Americans were hoping to pull off an upset over the #2 Wild on their home ice.

The #4 Great Falls Americans played their first game against the #2 Gillette (WY) Wild of the 2022-23 NA3HL season on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex and were dominated offensively by the Wild throughout the night in a 9-4 setback. Sky Solig scored on two tallies and contributed two assists and goaltender Jake Turek amassed 25 saves for the winning team. Dawson Bunch (1 goal, 1 assist) and William Fallman helped on two scoring plays for Great Falls.

Great Falls opened the first period by striking first. Alaska native Dawson Bunch collected his second goal off a pass from Jace Thompson and William Fallman withing the first three minutes. The Americans lead last seven minutes before Gillette’s Sky Solig sailed the puck through Great Falls starting netminder Josh Koziol for the equalizer. Leighton Weasler added his fifth assist. The Wild responded by taking their first lead 13 seconds later with a goal by Adam Severson with assistance from Todd Powassin and Isaac Young. Great Falls answered back with their second goal with under six minutes remaining. Garrett Weisenburger and Ben Cremers set up Noah Osiowy for this third tally of the season while Gillette was in the penalty box. Both squads went into the locker room with two goals apiece with a combined 27 shots-on-goal.

Gillette forward Sky Solig needed two minutes of the second stanza to break the 2-2 tie and his second goal of the contest. Cade Voge and Leighton Weasler recorded the assists for the visiting team. The Wild increased the lead (4-2) minutes later with a fourth goal by Alec Waller with helpers from Sky Solig and Ryan Jordan. Connor Wendell also got his name in the stat sheet with the fifth scoring drive with 5:51 with Jace Johnson and Johan Palmqvist getting the assists. Tyler Sunagel cut the lead to 5-3 when his power play goal occurred when William Fallman and Alex Leaf set up the scoring opportunity for the Americans. Ryan Jordan made his first career goal for Gillette to close out the period. Sky Solig assisted and Alec Waller earned the secondary assist with 95 seconds left before the second intermission as the Wyoming NA3HL team took a 6-3 advantage into the third frame. Gillette took advantage of Great Falls’ penalties in the middle period when they connected on two of their four goals. The Wild controlled the puck offensively for most of the second as they attempted 27 shots while Great Falls was held to 8.

Isaac Young, Jace Johnson and Johan Palmqvist each scored in the third for coach for head coach Ethan Hayes. The six assists off three goals went to Adam Severson (two), Leighton Weasler, Isaac Young, Zack Slinger, and Ryan Hipsag. The visitors outscored the home team, 3-1 on their way to their ninth victory of the season. Russ Rasmussen ended the drought for the Americans near the end of the contest when his pass from Dawson Bunch and Silas Hughes was successful over goaltender Jake Turek.

Sky Solig (2 goals, 2 assists) and Adam Severson and Isaac Young (1 goal, 2 assists) led the way for the second-place team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. Dawson Bunch had one goal and one assist and William Fallman had two assists in the loss for the Americans.

The eleventh game of the season for both teams saw 13 penalties being issued resulting in 32 minutes spent in the sin bin and each team capitalized on two of their power play chances.

Jake Turek picked up his third victory in four games by swatting away 25 of the 29 shots for the winning side. Great Falls utilized two netminders (Josh Koziol and Jake Regan), but Koziol took his fourth setback in eight games in his first season with the Americans. Koziol and Regan combined for 54 saves.

NOTES: The Great Falls Community Ice Foundation (GFCIF) invites you to enjoy some delicious pizza from MOD Pizza (1125 10th Avenue South) on Halloween (October 31, 2022) from 10:30AM until 10:00PM with 20% of all the proceeds going towards the Great Falls Ice Plex.

Facebook Event Information: Halloween pizza fundraiser | Facebook

If dining in at the store, please used promotional code, MODF14051 when completing your order with the cashier. Fans can order online through the MOD App or MOD website and use the promotional code MODF14051 before completing their transaction.

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: The #1 Helena Bighorns (12-1-0-0) and the #8 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (2-8-0-1) each scored three goals during the first two periods and then failed to score in the third and overtime periods to set up a shootout. Tyler Bloom scored his second goal of the contest to preserve the Bighorns 12th victory of the season. Bloom’s shootout goal was the only goal made by either squad to keep Helena from gathering their second loss of the season. Donovan Knuckles made one goal and dished out one assist for Yellowstone (box score).

The #3 Butte Cobras (6-4-1-0) took over sole possession of third place thanks to the Americans loss to Gillette tonight. Butte edged the #7 Badlands (SD) Sabres (2-8-1-0), 4-3 at the Roosevelt Park Ice Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota in the first of their two-game series on Friday evening. Luke Schleusner scored once and had two helpers and goaltender Caleb Cross chipped in 27 saves for the Cobras. Brady Ridnour scored two of his seven goals of the season tonight for the host team. Zach Broxterman stopped 38 of 42 shots for his eighth loss in ten appearances for the Sabres (box score).

The sixth-ranked Bozeman Ice Dogs (3-8-0-0) played at home in Haynes Pavilion on Friday night and came up on the short end of the stick when they fell to the #5 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (4-6-1-0), 6-3. Five Hawks players recorded one goal and one assist including McCaffery Billings, Dalton Thomas, Makhai Sparks, Wyatt Noble and Jackson LeBrasseur. Braden Kaliha, Dominik Hauer, and Owen House scored all three of Butte’s goals in the first period (box score).

NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will continue the month of October at home with second head-to-head matchup with the Gillette Wild on Saturday, October 22nd live from the Great Falls Ice Plex starting at 7:30PM (MST). The Americans will also host the Badlands (SD) Sabres on September 28-29th. Games can be streamed online (with a subscription) at HockeyTV.

Additional Media Coverage: October 19, 2022: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Wednesday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.