Great Falls gets revenge and wins their season finale over Yellowstone

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

CODY, Wyo., March 4, 2017 — The top-ranked Yellowstone Quake (40-4-0-3) scored early and often on their way to defeat the Great Falls Americans (38-4-2-3) 8-2 on Friday night in Wyoming to capture the regular season Frontier Division championship. A trio of standouts led the Yellowstone Quake to their 40th victory and earned them the top-seed in the Frontier Divisional Playoffs where they will receive a first-round bye. Great Falls also automatically advance to the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals in two weeks with a bye.

Reed Kelly and Cole Stewart each scored half of the goals (2 goals apiece) for the Quake and goaltender Nick Ottenbacher redirected 29 of the 31 shots put up by the Americans. Logan Parsley and Brendan Jester collected both goals for Great Falls and netminders Nick Nast and Kyler Ayers combined for 29 saves.

In the season finale on Saturday night, Great Falls and Yellowstone gathered on the ice for the sixth and final time in the regular season. For the season, Great Falls has a 3-2-1 record against the Cody, Wyoming based squad.

Payton McSharry and Kyler Ayers came up big for the Great Falls Americans in their season finale against the top team in the Frontier Division, the Yellowstone Quake. McSharry scored once in the first and two more in the second period to receive a hat trick (3 goals) and help the Great Falls Americans down the home team, 6-3 at Wyoming’s Riley Arena on Saturday night. Goaltender Kyler Ayers came away with 40 saves in the victory for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad.

Kody Thomas and Payton McSharry scored goals 2:36 apart to provide the visiting team from Montana a 2-0 lead after the first twenty minutes. Logan Parsley accumulated his fourth assist of the season on Thomas’ score with 4:11 on the clock and Adam Vandenbos and Ricards Bernhards assisted on McSharry’s score via a power play before the first intermission. Great Falls’ two goals came on 16 shot attempts while Yellowstone had nine in the stanza.

Great Falls scored two of the three total goals during the first 2:05 of the middle period. After Max Doner scored for the Quake during the first 32 seconds to put them within one score (2-1). Brendan Jester and Payton McSharry each lit up the lamp to increase the lead to 4-1. Tanner Congdon assisted on both scoring plays. Payton McSharry and Brendan Jester also helped set up the third and fourth goals for Great Falls. A few minutes later, the Quake pulled back to within one goal (4-3) as Max Doner scored his second goal of the period and Curt Greenbush picked up his 20th goal in the final game of the regular season. Matt Runyon obtained two assists on the scoring opportunities. Payton McSharry tallied an extra goal while Yellowstone was down a man with 27 seconds left in the period off the stick of Adam Vandenbos to bring the Americans back to a two-goal lead.

Ricards Bernhards scored the final regular season goal for Great Falls in the third frame. His tenth goal came with help from Matt Janke and team leader in assists, Danny O’Donnell. Despite Yellowstone out-shooting Great Falls 20-7 in the period, the top-seeded team in the upcoming tournament failed to put the puck in the net.

Players that helped the Americans win their 38th game in 47 contests included Payton McSharry with three goals and one assist followed by Brendan Jester and Ricards Bernhards with one goal and one assist apiece. Kyler Ayers played a fantastic game in the goal for Great Falls. The Boise, Idaho native stopped 40 of the 43 shots. In addition to Max Doner’s two goals for Yellowstone, Jesse Lawman and Matt Runyon each finished with a pair of assists. Curt Greenbush had the third and final goal for coach Ryan Theros’ club.

The Frontier Division teams ended the contest with eight penalties resulting in 32 minutes in the penalty box. Two of Great Falls’ points came from penalties created by the Quake. The host team took advantage of one of their four power plays that led to a score.

Kyler Ayers had another exceptional game for the Americans earning his 40th save. Brady Anderson got the start and the loss for Wyoming. He allowed four goals before being replaced by Nick Ottenbacher, who swatted away 15 of the 17 shots sent his way.

NOTE: The Great Falls Americans had the third best attendance in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) during the 2016-17 regular season. The Americans saw an average of 720 fans per contest attend their 24 home games at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The North Iowa Bulls and the Alexandria Blizzard were just ahead of them in attendance. The Gillette Wild was the only other Frontier team in the top eight in attendance averaging 501 in 24 games.

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will enjoy a week off next weekend and will return to action for the 2017 Frontier Division Semi-Finals that start the following week (March 16th). The first playoff game in Great Falls will take place on Friday, March 17th against a team to be announced. To view the 2017 Playoff format and the schedule for the 2017 Silver Cup Championship tournament, please click here.

The 2017 Frontier Division Playoffs start this next week with a pair of Play-In Series in a Best-of-3 format. The schedule for both series is below:

2017 Frontier Play-In Series: Thursday, March 9th – Saturday, March 11th

2017 NA3HL Frontier Divisional Playoffs: Play-In Series (Best-of-3)
#6 Helena Bighorns (15-31-1-0) @ #3 Gillette Wild (35-11-1-0)
Day/Date Game Time Location
Thurs. Mar. 9 Gillette @ Helena 7:05PM Helena Ice Arena, Helena, MT
Fri. Mar. 10 Helena @ Gillette 7:05PM Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY
**Sat. Mar. 11 Helena @ Gillette 7:05PM Spirit Hall Ice Arena, Gillette, WY

2017 Frontier Play-In Series: Friday, March 10th – Sunday, March 12th

2017 NA3HL Frontier Divisional Playoffs: Play-In Series (Best-of-3)
#5 Bozeman Ice Dogs (24-21-2-0) @ #4 Missoula Jr. Bruins (27-16-3-1)
Day/Date Game Time Location
Fri. Mar. 10 Bozeman @ Missoula 7:30PM Glacier Ice Rink, Missoula, MT
Sat. Mar. 11 Missoula @ Bozeman 7:30PM Haynes Pavilion, Bozeman, MT
**Sun. Mar. 12 Bozeman @ Missoula 6:30PM Glacier Ice Rink, Missoula, MT

#1 Yellowstone Quake & #2 Great Falls Americans: Receive Bye into Frontier Division Semi-Finals

**Game 3: (If Necessary)