By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., July 20, 2021 — The Great Falls Americans Junior A team along with the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) have released their North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) regular season game schedule for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
The NA3HL, which is entering their 12th season, serves as one of two USA Hockey Tier III junior leagues that consists of five divisions and a total of 34 teams that will play 47 regular season contests from September 2021 until March 2022.
The schedule for the Americans (27-11-2-0 in the regular season and 30-13-2-0 including the playoffs) is highlighted by two teams that also reached the 2021 NA3HL Playoffs including the top-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks, who finished the regular season with just one loss (39-1-0-0 and 42-2-0-0 including the playoffs) and the Gillette (WY) Wild, who are coached by former Great Falls Americans Associate Coach, Ethan Hayes, who guided his squad in his first season in 2020-21 with an overall record of 24-17-1-1. The fourth tournament team was now the defunct Missoula Junior Bruins, who are now the South Dakota-based Badlands Sabres and join the eight-member Frontier Division this season (see story).
The top two teams in the Frontier Division during the 2020-21 (#1 Sheridan Hawks and #2 Great Falls Americans) will meet each four times on the ice (2 home/2 road games) with the first meeting set for Week 4 (October 2-3) of the regular season in Great Falls followed with their second head-to-head meeting on October 15-16th in Sheridan, Wyoming. Before that rivalry, the Gillette Wild and Great Falls Americans will get their first rematch of the 2021 NA3HL Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals in which Great Falls took the best-of-three series, 2-1, in Week 3 with the Wild coming to Great Falls on September 24-25th. The Americans and Wild will tangle on the ice six times with four of those coming on the road. The newest member of the Frontier Division, the Badlands Sabres, based out of Rapid City, South Dakota, will visit the Great Falls Ice Plex on Thanksgiving Weekend (November 26-27) for a twin bill. The Americans will enter South Dakota for the first time on December 3-4. The Sabres will also be in Great Falls in January 2022. In addition to the Friday and Saturday night contests, the leagues also scheduled four Sunday games, two Thursday games and one Wednesday game.
The league released the Frontier Division’s 44-regular season game schedule in addition to the other four divisions (Central, East, West, and South) on Tuesday, July 20, 2021. All regular season games, which begin on Sunday, September 5th and will end on Sunday, March 6, 2022, are subject to change. All teams will also play three regular season games (neutral site) at the league-wide 2021 NA3HL Showcase taking place on December 20-22, 2021, at the Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota. Opponents will be chosen later.
“We are excited to announce our regular season schedule on time as we continue to get back to normal in 2021-22, which includes one of our busiest and most exciting seasons to date with a record number of 34 teams,” said NA3HL Commissioner Blake MacNicol. “Our teams and their leadership worked hard to make the schedule happen and we are looking forward to many of the enhanced and new match-ups in the NA3HL this season. We all share in the common mission of creating an enhanced level of play and competition that is focused on a player’s development and advancement. We also share a common goal for players to advance to college hockey while competing and developing in within USA Hockey Ladder of Development.”
Great Falls is entering their eleventh season of junior hockey (2011-12 – Present) and will have 22 home dates at the Great Falls Ice Plex as they begin their eighth season of competition in the Frontier Division of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). The Americans will begin the first two weeks of the season on the road where they will face a twin bill against the Yellowstone Quake in Cody, Wyoming (Sept. 10-11) followed by a single game in Week 2 against the Bozeman Ice Dogs at Bozeman’s Haynes Pavilion on September 18th before Great Falls begins their first of three consecutive weeks on home ice at the Great Falls Ice Plex where they will host the Gillette Wild on September 24-25 followed by three games against the Helena Bighorns and two against the Sheridan (WY) Hawks. All home games will begin at 7:30PM (MST) except for their lone Sunday contest (October 3rd) against the Sheridan Hawks that will begin at 5:30PM (MST). All home and away games can be seen on the league’s webcast subscription service, HockeyTV.
The Americans will report this season on Wednesday, September 1st under the direction of Head Coach/General Manager, Greg Sears, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the Great Falls junior hockey squad.
“We are excited to get started in September,” said Great Falls Americans Head Coach/General Manager Greg Sears. “I’m excited about the group of guys coming in. It should be another fun year.”
In addition to the three other Montana-based NA3HL squads (Bozeman Ice Dogs, Helena Bighorns, and the Butte Cobras), Wyoming also has three squads competing including the Yellowstone Quake (Cody, WY), Gillette (WY) Wild and the Sheridan (WY) Hawks and one in Rapid City, South Dakota, the Badlands Sabres, who are entering their first year this season.
The NA3HL also announced three events during the 2021-22 season including the annual NA3HL (league-wide) Showcase taking place from December 20-22, 2021, in Blaine, Minnesota that feature all 34 teams. In April 2022, the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament will be held on February 7-8th. The season concludes with the 2022 NA3HL Fraser Cup Championship Tournament that crowns the NA3HL’s playoff champion (March 24-28) in St. Louis, Missouri.
In December’s Showcase tournament (December 20-22) in Blaine, Minnesota each of the 34 league members in 16 states will play against other division teams featuring three games in three days. The contests will count in the overall standings and feature coaches and scouts from the NCAA, junior college ranks and the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
The second major event of the season is the NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament, which will coincide with the 2021 North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Top Prospects Tournament on February 7-8, 2022, that will highlight the NA3HL’s best players in an ‘all-star’ setting.
Finally, the NA3HL will finish off their postseason with a national tournament in late March with the 2022 NA3HL Fraser Cup Tournament held on March 24-28, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri that will crown a national champion. Prior to the national tournament, the Divisional playoffs will decide which team represents each division at the five-day round-robin tournament.
Click here to view the NA3HL’s press release for more information and the NA3HL Divisional breakdown for each of the league’s five divisions below.
The 2021-22 Americans season schedule is below.
|Sat. Oct. 2||vs. Sheridan Hawks||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sun. Oct. 3||vs. Sheridan Hawks||5:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Fri. Oct. 8||vs. Helena Bighorns||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Oct. 9||vs. Helena Bighorns||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Fri. Oct. 15||@ Sheridan Hawks||7:30PM||Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center, Sheridan, WY|
|Sat. Oct. 16||@ Sheridan Hawks||7:30PM||Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center, Sheridan, WY|
|Fri. Oct. 22||vs. Butte Cobras||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Thurs. Oct. 28||vs. Butte Cobras||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Fri. Oct. 29||vs. Bozeman Ice Dogs||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Oct. 30||@ Butte Cobras||7:00PM||Butte Community Ice Center, Butte, MT|
|Fri. Nov. 5||vs. Sheridan Hawks||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Nov. 6||vs. Sheridan Hawks||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Fri. Nov. 12||vs. Helena Bighorns||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Fri. Nov. 19||@ Gillette Wild||7:05PM||Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY|
|Sat. Nov. 20||@ Gillette Wild||7:05PM||Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY|
|Fri. Nov. 26||vs. Badlands Sabres||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Nov. 27||vs. Badlands Sabres||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Wed. Dec. 1||@ Butte Cobras||7:00PM||Butte Community Ice Center, Butte, MT|
|Fri. Dec. 3||@ Badlands Sabres||7:05PM||Roosevelt Park Ice Arena, Rapid City, SD|
|Sat. Dec. 4||@ Badlands Sabres||7:05PM||Roosevelt Park Ice Arena, Rapid City, SD|
|Fri. Dec. 10||@ Gillette Wild||7:05PM||Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY|
|Sat. Dec. 11||@ Gillette Wild||7:05PM||Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY|
|Mon. Dec. 20||NA3HL Showcase||NSC Super Rink, Blaine, MN|
|@ TBA||0:00PM (MST)|
|Tues. Dec. 21||NA3HL Showcase||NSC Super Rink, Blaine, MN|
|@ TBA||0:00PM (MST)|
|Wed. Dec. 22||NA3HL Showcase||NSC Super Rink, Blaine, MN|
|vs. TBA||0:00PM (MST)|
|Fri. Dec. 31||vs. Butte Cobras||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Jan. 1||vs. Butte Cobras||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Jan. 8||@ Helena Bighorns||7:05PM||Helena Ice Arena, Helena, MT|
|Sun. Jan. 9||@ Bozeman Ice Dogs||5:15PM||Haynes Pavilion, Bozeman, MT|
|Sat. Jan. 15||vs. Bozeman Ice Dogs||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sun. Jan. 16||@ Bozeman Ice Dogs||7:00PM||Haynes Pavilion, Bozeman, MT|
|Fri. Jan. 21||vs. Badlands Sabres||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Jan. 22||vs. Badlands Sabres||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Jan. 29||@ Helena Bighorns||7:05PM||Helena Ice Arena, Helena, MT|
|Mon. Feb. 7||NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament||St. Peters Rec Plex, St. Peters, MO|
|Frontier Division vs. TBA||0:00AM (MST)||Frontier Roster l TBA Roster|
|Frontier Division vs. TBA||0:00PM (MST)||Frontier Roster l TBA Roster|
|Tues. Feb. 8||NA3HL Top Prospects Tournament||St. Peters Rec Plex, St. Peters, MO|
|Frontier Division vs. TBA||0:00AM (MST)||Frontier Roster l TBA Roster|
|Fri. Feb. 11||@ Yellowstone Quake||7:30PM|
|Sat. Feb. 12||@ Yellowstone Quake||7:30PM||Riley Arena, Cody, WY|
|Sun. Feb. 13||@ Bozeman Ice Dogs||5:15PM||Haynes Pavilion, Bozeman, MT|
|Fri. Feb. 18||@ Helena Bighorns||7:05PM||Helena Ice Arena, Helena, MT|
|Sat. Feb. 19||@ Helena Bighorns||7:05PM||Helena Ice Arena, Helena, MT|
|Fri. Feb. 25||vs. Yellowstone Quake||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|Sat. Feb. 26||vs. Yellowstone Quake||7:30PM||Great Falls Ice Plex|
|End of Regular Season|
Click here to view the entire 2020-21 team-by-team schedule.