By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 11, 2017 — Thanks to stellar play, the Great Falls Americans (12-3-2-0) are still undefeated against the Helena Bighorns this season. Their four meetings have produced four victories.
Kyler Mack scored two out of the three goals for the host team as they hung on to defeat the Helena Bighorns 3-2 on Saturday night in Great Falls. They defeated the same Helena squad the night before in Helena by the same identical score.
The contest was scoreless for the first five minutes of action on the ice before Michael Fary connected on a pass by Michael Houlihan for this seventh scoring drive of the 2017-18 season. Tanner Rath also assisted to give the Americans an early advantage. Great Falls took 10 first period shots against Helena goalie Nick Battaglia.
Nick Noel tied up the contest for Helena at the 17-minute mark of the middle period. Jarett Scheibel found the slashing Noel for the score.
Kyler Mack recorded a pair of goals in the first 13 minutes of the final period to lift the Americans to a 3-1 lead. Tanner Rath assisted on the second goal while Michael Fary set up the third scoring drive for coach Jeff Heimel’s team. The score would remain that way until the final 49 seconds when Dane Reiger rattled in a goal that sailed through the glove of Great Falls netminder Bryan Sharp. Ben Kottmeier and Valary Dietz earned the assists.
The NA3HL foes combined for 8 penalties resulting in 37 minutes of penalty time. Great Falls had two major penalties called against them. No goals were produced on the five power play opportunities.
The Americans, under the direction of head coach Jeff Heimel, took 16 shots in the final two periods to finish with 42 shots. Helena ended their night with 38 thanks to 15 shots taken in the last period.
Nick Battaglia was on the losing end again against the Americans. The netminder swatted away 39 of the 42 shots. Bryan Sharp played the entire contest in the net for Great Falls and made 36 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans play the Missoula Jr. Bruins next weekend (Nov. 17-18th) for a home and away two-game series. On November 17th, Great Falls plays in the Garden City and then back in Great Falls the following night.