By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., March 9, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (33-11-2) opened the 2017-18 season with a home game against the Bozeman Ice Dogs and they will finish up the season with them as well.
Great Falls have won all eight previous meetings with Bozeman this season and they haven’t allowed their opponents to score more than two goals against them. The Americans accumulated 43 goals in those eight victories while holding the Ice Dogs to 12.
Weston Goodman scored both of his goals during the high-scoring third period and Michael Fary dished out two assists as Great Falls upended the Bozeman Ice Dogs 6-2 in the home finale for the Americans at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Friday night. The 875 spectators saw coach Jeff Heimel go out with a win in his final regular home game with the Americans before he moves on to the college ranks with the University of Providence (MT) next season.
Bozeman and Great Falls traded goals in the first and second periods. Bozeman jumped out to a 1-0 advantage when Austin Charnholm and Beckett Patten dished off to Cade Hanley for the game’s opening score. The successful power play score came with two minutes before the first intermission.
Americans standout Payton McSharry made sure Great Falls got on the scoreboard in the second period. His lone goal with 5:46 on the clock came from helpers Michael Houlihan and Brandon Vukasin. Great Falls out-shot the visiting team 18-10 in the period and maintained a 31-16 shots-on-goal lead after two periods.
During the first five minutes of the third, Great Falls rang up three goals to increase the lead to 4-1. Kyler Mack, Noel Parker, and Adam Vandenbos were the recipients of the goals for the Americans. Adam Vandenbos and Brandon Vukasin set up the first goal of the stanza 24 seconds in while the Ice Dogs were in a penalty. Vandenbos’ score went unassisted and Parker was aided by Brandon Peterson and Michael Fary.
Bozeman responded to cut into the 4-2 lead by Great Falls. Chad Stucker and Cade Hanley added the assists on a score by Duncan McGarrah. The score would remain 4-2 for the next 12:46 when Weston Goodman scored the final two goals in front of the home crowd. The assists went to Matt Janke, Michael Fary and Tanner Rath.
Great Falls won their ninth consecutive game against Bozeman by attacking the net and displaying 53 shots. The Ice Dogs finished with 21.
The NA3HL contest saw a combined 11 penalties with 30 minutes spent in the penalty box. The host team scored twice, and Bozeman saw one goal go between the pipes during their only power play.
Bryan Sharp played a great game in his final home game of the regular season by registering 19 saves. Carver Thompson couldn’t’ shake off the five goals by the Americans in the third stanza and ended the night with 47 saves in the loss.
NEXT CONTEST: The 2017-18 regular season concludes on Saturday, March 10th for both NA3HL squads. The Great Falls Americans travel to Bozeman to try to win their 34th game of the season when the face the Ice Dogs at 7:30PM from Haynes Pavilion.