Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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HELENA, Mont., November 9, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (14-2-1-0), currently in second place behind the Bozeman Ice Dogs (16-1-0-0) in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division, have had their way with the Helena Bighorns (4-14-0-0) in the win column this season.
Except for one overtime loss to Helena, the Americans have a 3-0-1 record this season after four meetings with their interstate rivals. On Friday evening, Great Falls earned their fourth shutout in 16 games by posting a four-goal win on the road.
Great Falls is also riding a seven-game winning streak since their extra period setback to Helena in the middle of October. Could the Americans go 8-0 since last month?
The Great Falls Americans made it a weekend sweep of the Helena Bighorns by posting a 5-1 win in an NA3HL junior hockey game Saturday night in Helena, Montana. Jack Olson, a returning forward from the 2019-20 season, led the charge for Great Falls with two goals and an assist while netminder Trever Mellen swatted away 28 of 29 shots. Great Falls has now won five of their six road games.
Two goals were obtained during the first stanza with each team lighting up the lamp. The visitors struck first when Blake Nerney scored his third goal from the sticks of Dylan Olson, who picked up his fifth assist 8:29 into the contest, and Nick Ramstad, who got his third. Helena evened the score up at 1-1 at the 15:21 mark of the opening period when William Wallace, a Sunburst, Montana native, scored his fourth goal on the unassisted scoring play. The Americans owned a 22-10 edge in shots during the first twenty minutes.
The Americans took a 2-1 lead in the middle period when Jack Olson scored the first of his two goals at the halfway mark. Brody Boyce and Jake Hayes each assisted while the Bighorns were in the penalty box. The second-place Frontier team took ten more shots (31-21) after two periods.
Great Falls ensured their 14th victory by outscoring Helena 3-0 in the final frame. Jack Olson, Levi Mese, and Henry Chavez all found a way to score over Helena netminder Garrett Dryden. Jake Hayes added his second assist to his stats for the game while Ivan Royo, Hendrik Robel, Logan Rachow, Jack Olson and Cody Benjamin each gathered their first. Benjamin’s first assist of the season came in his sixth appearance. The Americans offense came out firing in the third by producing 27 shots and allowing Helena to attempt eight.
Coach Greg Sears’ team doubled up on shots against the young Helena squad, 58-29, after sixty minutes.
Jack Olson’s first goal to break the tie (2-1) in the second period was the only power play that resulted in a successful score. Great Falls went 1-for-5 and Helena couldn’t convert any goals in their four power play tries. The 639 spectators at the Helena Ice Arena on Saturday evening saw a total of nine minor infractions with 18 minutes spent off the ice due to the penalties.
A night after Viktor Wennberg received 29 saves, his teammate Trever Mellen got the start and the win on Saturday by recording 28 saves with his only blemish coming near the end of the first period off William Wallace’s lone score for the Bighorns. Mellen picked up his fourth victory in six appearances. His counterpart, Garrett Dryden gave up three third period goals and finished with 53 saves and his record dropped to 2-2.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans embark on an eight-game homestand to finish out the month of November and the start of December. The Missoula Junior Bruins invade the Great Falls Ice Plex on Friday, November 15th for the second time this season followed by Saturday’s (November 16th) contest with the Butte Cobras. The game begins at 7:30PM nightly with the game shown on HockeyTV.
Additional Media Coverage: November 11, 2019: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans sweep (Again!): The Great Falls Americans have now won three games in a row, hear from Head Coach Greg Sears!