By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., December 13, 2014 — For the second night in a row, the Great Falls Americans (22-3) and the Gillette Wild (18-9-1) faced each other in Great Falls. The top-ranked Americans looked to redeem themselves from Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Wyoming franchise.
Great Falls prevented their second consecutive loss in as many days by posting a 4-1 victory over the Gillette Wild with 580 spectators watching the Saturday night NA3HL showdown at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Great Falls now leads the season series 5-1.
After a penalty-free NA3HL contest on Friday night, it took only 48 seconds for the first penalty of the game called on Miles Giorgione of the Americans for roughing. It remained a physical game for both teams throughout the game. Great Falls’ Zack Mese and Austin Krantz each added first period goals to their season total. Malachi Bushey found an open Zack Mese for the first score (and his fourth goal of the year) early in the contest. Great Falls native Dylan Garton connected a pass to Austin Krantz with 13:59 on the clock for his fifth scoring drive. Great Falls led 14-12 in shot attempts over Gillette after the completion of the first stanza.
The middle period saw just one successful opportunity. Lucas Lomax capitalized for the Americans with his 17th goal of the 2014-15 season by getting the puck past Gillette goaltender Alex Feese. Miles Giorgione was the recipient of the assist with 3:41 remaining before the second intermission. Great Falls took four more shots (on goal) after two periods (27-23) than their Wyoming club.
Great Falls quickly jumped out to a four-goal advantage in the final period. Dylan Garton was able to get his first goal of the game within the first 13 seconds of the period. Marvin Simmons assisted on the Americans fourth points of the evening. The Wild cut the deficit to 4-1 two and a half minutes later with their first score of the game. Mitchell McEwan’s pass to Brandon Beard sailed by Americans goaltender Evan Hauser for the tally.
The three combined power plays went unsuccessful for both NA3HL teams.
The Americans under the direction of coach Jeff Heimel incurred 26 minutes of penalty time with three minor infractions while the visitors from Wyoming had two minor penalties for 24 minutes.
Gillette accumulated 17 shots on goal in the third period and finished with 40 shots while Great Falls registered 39 including 12 in the final period.
Gillette utilized both of the goalies on the roster. Alex Feese took the loss and had 28 of the 39 saves. Sean Kelley picked up the 11 in the final period. Great Falls’ Evan Hauser was outstanding and chipped in 39 saves while allowing just one goal in the last period of regulation. The Minnesota native is now 14-0 and currently is the top-ranked goaltender in the league with 447 saves in 14 games played.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will face the Bozeman Ice Dogs twice next weekend. The Americans will head to Bozeman, Montana on Friday, December 19th followed by a home game on Saturday, December 20th. Both games start at 7:30PM.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – 1, Great Falls, Zack Mese (Malachi Bushey), 3:29. 2, Great Falls, Austin Krantz (Dylan Garton, Malachi Bushey), 6:01.
Second Period – 3, Great Falls, Lucas Lomax (Miles Giorgione), 16:19.
Third Period – 4, Great Falls, Dylan Garton (Marvin Simmons), 0:13. 5, Gillette, Brandon Beard (Mitchell McEwan), 2:48.
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 39, Gillette 40.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-1, Gillette 0-for-2.
Attendance – 580