By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 12, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (20-9-2) have played seven games against the Missoula Jr. Bruins this season with Great Falls picking up five victories.
Great Falls has had a good start to 2018 with the Gillette Wild coming into the Great Falls Ice Plex taking two wins last weekend and not allowing Great Falls to score more than three goals per game.
Great Falls was looking to get back on track with a win on home ice.
Tanner Rath scored twice and Michael Houlihan accumulated one goal and dished out two assists as Great Falls grabbed their first victory in 2018 by blanking the visiting Missoula Jr. Bruins 4-0 at the Great Falls Ice Plex on the only game scheduled for this week for Great Falls. The 910 spectators cheered loudly as Great Falls is now 1-2 for the month of January.
Great Falls scored three minutes into the first period. Jens Juliussen and Matt Janke skated by Missoula defenders to find the open Michael Houlihan for the game’s first score. Janke and Juliussen each got their 19th assist. The home team made 17 shots against Missoula goaltenders Brian Thomas and Duncan Wiest, who each made appearances to open the contest.
Jens Juliussen and Tanner Rath contributed to the scoring for Great Falls after the first intermission. The 3-0 lead came thanks to assistance from Kyler Mack, Matt Janke, Michael Houlihan, and Michael Fary. Great Falls kept the puck down on the Missoula end for most of the period as they fired off 20 shots while Missoula created five shot attempts.
Tanner Rath connected on his second goal during the final period. Michael Fary and Michael Houlihan set up the Americans quick strike 35 seconds into the stanza. Despite not scoring, Missoula out-shot Great Falls in the last twenty minutes, 15-12.
After out-shooting Missoula 37-13 after the first forty minutes, Great Falls finished with 12 in the third for a total of 49. Missoula had 15 in the third to end the contest with 28.
Missoula had only three penalties called on them with six minutes spent in the sin bin with Jens Juliussen’s second period goals being the only score that led to a goal. The Americans committed seven penalties, but Missoula couldn’t find a way to get in the scoring column.
Drew Scites played a flawless game as he stopped all 28 shots that the Missoula offense dished out. Brian Thomas started the game but played just 16:38 of the contest, recording just nine saves in the loss. Duncan Wiest relieved him and had 36 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans play their first road games since December 30th when they travel to Gillette, Wyoming for a two-game series with the Wild. Game time is set for 7:05PM from the Spirit Hall Ice Arena.