By Kevin Scott
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RAPID CITY, SD., December 2, 2022 — The #6 Great Falls Americans (9-13-0-0) and the #7 Badlands (SD) Sabres (6-13-2-2) have already played two head-to-head games this season in Great Falls, Montana.
Great Falls scored five goals each in both games that resulted in two victories against the only team in the NA3HL from South Dakota during the final weekend of October. During the opening game on October 28th, William Fallman, Ben Cremers, Dawson Bunch, Russ Rasmussen, and Simon Lazsloffy all scored in a 5-1 win. Four of the goals came during the second period (game story). The following night, Great Falls went up 4-0 after the first stanza but they were outscored four goals over the second and third periods to send the game into an overtime (which neither team accounted for any goals) and then a shootout occurred. Americans defenseman William Fallman was the star of the game as he was the only one to go one-on-one with Badlands netminder Zach Broxterman and score for the 5-4 win (game story).
Great Falls made their first trek down to Rapid City, South Dakota for two weekend contests against the Sabres hoping to put an end to their four-game losing streak.
The #7 Badlands Sabres ended their six-game losing streak with a December win over the #6 Great Falls Americans during Friday’s NA3HL junior hockey action at the Roosevelt Park Ice Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota. South Dakota natives Dawson Wirth and AJ Petrotto scored once in the second and third periods, respectively to spark the Sabres to their sixth win of the season. The Americans were shutout for just the second time since their 5-0 setback at home on September 30th against the Bighorns.
The first period came and went without any scoring despite a combined 25 shots coming between these two opponents.
Five minutes into the second period, Badlands forward Dawson Wirth put the puck in the net for the first scoring drive of the contest. Jack Walters, a Bozeman, Montana native, who started the season by playing four games with the Helena Bighorns before coming over to the Sabres, added his sixth assist of the season. The secondary assist went to Ian Vannelli, who also spent time with the Bighorns. The power play goal was made possible by a penalty from the Americans. Badlands held the Americans to just seven shots-on-goal after the first period while they accounted for 12.
The Sabres held onto their one-goal advantage until the final 3:50 of the contest when Logan Powers and Zach Vockler made the assist off AJ Petrotto’s third goal in a Badlands uniform. Great Falls made 12 of their 31 shots during the final stanza.
The home team outshot the visitors 25-19 after two periods before Great Falls earned 12 of the 23 total shots in the final period.
Penalties made life difficult for Great Falls. Baden Powell, Dawson Bunch, and newcomer Noah Wilk, playing in his first game with the Americans after spending time this season with the Oregon Tradesmen, a NA3HL member out of the Central Division, each accrued penalty minutes. The Americans five penalties cost them 31 minutes in the sin bin. Badlands was whistled for three minor penalties during the first two periods. The third frame was penalty-free from both sides. Badlands converted one of their three power play chances. Great Falls failed to manage any goals in their two (power play) attempts.
Zach Broxterman (2-11-1-2) won for the first time since his 5-2 win over the Yellowstone Quake on September 16th. The Kansas goaltender redirected all 31 shots by Great Falls. Josh Koziol, who has played 16 games in the net for Great Falls, saw his record fall to 6-10 on the season despite 34 saves.
NOTES: In roster news this week, Great Falls released one player and added two players on December 1st. Fin Shibler, who appeared in four games in September, was released from the team after not scoring any goals or dishing out any assists. The Americans picked up forward Noah Wilk, who played with the NA3HL’s Oregon Tradesmen and defenseman Mason Loughlin, who made an appearance with the New Ulm (MN) Steel of the NA3HL. Click here for the updated roster.
The NA3HL announced the opponents for the 2022 NA3HL Showcase Tournament that will feature many college scouts in attendance during the prestigious tournament in Blaine, Minnesota at the NSC Super Rink on December 18-20. Click here to see the league press release and see who the Americans will be playing in two weeks. All games will be broadcast on HockeyTV.
FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: In the first meeting between the #1 Gillette (WY) Wild (19-2-0-2) and the #2 Helena Bighorns (17-4-1-1) on Friday evening in Helena, the Bighorns scored the first and last goal as they handed the top-ranked Wild a 3-1 loss. Gillette managed just one second period goal in just their fourth loss. Harlan Wojtusik scored two goals and netminder Marek Andres made 36 saves for the host squad. Isaac Young of Gillette buried his eleventh goal off a pass by Anthony Foster in the middle frame for the only goal for the Wild (box score).
The third-ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks (14-8-1-0) offense was busy putting the puck in the net as they accounted for ten goals enroute to a 10-2 shellacking over the #8 Bozeman Ice Dogs (6-16-0-1) inside Haynes Pavilion in Bozeman, Montana. Parker Norling had a hat trick (3 goals) and dished out two assists to lead the Hawks to their 14th win. Ryan McKenna scored on two scoring drives and made three assists while Jack Wood got the win as the netminder for Wyoming by stopping 43 of 45 shots. Bodie Shepardson and Owen House contributed the goals for the Ice Dogs. The lone bright spot for Bozeman was they outshot the Hawks, 45-30 (box score).
The #4 Butte Cobras (11-10-1-0) used a three-goal third period to pull away from the #5 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (8-12-2-1), 4-2 on the road on Saturday night in Cody, Wyoming, Nick Bradshaw, Tyler Tosch, Caelin Chinery, and Luke Schleusner all put the biscuit in the basket for Butte. Teagan Scheurer and Zac Orwig scored tor the Quake in the loss. The Cobras took 24 of their 51 shots in the final period. A 39 save performance by Cobras goalie Caleb Cross helped them pick up their tenth win of the season (box score).
Additional Media Coverage: November 30, 2022: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Wednesday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.