By Kevin Scott
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MISSOULA, Mont., February 17, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans keep piling on the wins. The Americans, 29-10-2 on the season, continued their dominance as one of the top two teams in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division.
The Americans earned their fourth shutout of the season by blanking the Missoula Junior Bruins, 5-0 on Saturday night in front of a small crowd at the Glacier Ice Rink. Ben Rinckey scored once in the opening period and two more times in the third to earn the hat trick.
Ben Rinckey, the 5’10” Alaska native, put the puck between the pipes with help from Jens Juliussen for the only score of the first period.
Great Falls received their second goal from Brandon Vukasin as his connection from Weston Goodman was successful in the net and gave the visiting team a two-goal lead. After out-shooting the Bruins 9-1 in the first twenty minutes, Great Falls took 12 more and allowed five in the second frame for a total of 21-6 before the second intermission.
Ben Rinckey secured two goals and Weston Goodman netted one in the final period of regulation and the defense never surrendered a goal by the Bruins. Dustin Truex, Jens Juliussen, and Nate Simpson provided the assists on the two goals by Rinckey. Brandon Vukasin and Michael Houlihan helped Goodman receive his tenth goal of the season.
Great Falls and Missoula each failed on their four power play chances. Great Falls was called for five penalties resulting in 13 minutes in the penalty box while Missoula spent eight minutes in the sin bin on four infractions.
The Americans victory was never in doubt as they outplayed the home team by attempting 35 shots and allowed Missoula just eight during the sixty-minute contest.
Goaltender Drew Scites continues to be one of the top players for coach Jeff Heimel’s team. He stopped all eight shots he faced. Scites’ counterpart, Brian Thomas, swatted away 30 of the 35 shots, but fell short.
NEXT CONTEST: The top-seeded Frontier Division, Yellowstone Quake, make their final trip to Great Falls this season with a pair of contests against the Great Falls Americans next weekend. The Friday and Saturday meetings (Feb. 23-24) start at 7:30PM nightly from the Great Falls Ice Plex.