By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 23, 2017 — The Great Falls Americans opened the 2017-18 season with two wins in two games with wins over the Bozeman Ice Dogs and the Helena Bighorns last night.
Could the Americans run their record to 3-0? Only two goals were scored in last night’s contest with Helena and that was all that the home team needed.
The Great Falls Americans utilized a four goal first period and a pair of scoring drives by Alaska native Tanner Rath to hang on for a 6-4 victory despite a three-goal third period by the Bighorns on Saturday evening.
Tanner Rath scored the first of his two goals during the first five minutes of the opening period. Matt Larson and Weston Goodman put the Great Falls squad ahead early 3-0. Helena’s Ben Kottmeier scored his second goal of the season with assistance from Jarett Scheibel and Nick Noel to cut the Bighorns deficit to 3-1 with five minutes left before the first intermission. Cody Dearing, a 6’0” forward from Alaska, was able to escape a few Helena defenders to get the puck in the net for his second goal in three games. Coach Jeff Heimel’s team was up 4-1 after the first twenty minutes.
Great Falls spectators would see two more goals by the Americans during the middle period. Rath secured this second goal off the stick of Matt Janke and Payton McSharry, who each recorded their third season assist on the successful power play opportunity. Adam Vandenbos tallied the sixth team point on a short-handed goal that was assisted by Michael Fary.
Helena offense put up three straight goals to attempt a comeback but that would be all they would be able to do. Ben Kottmeier scored two out of the three third period goals while Gavin Cline added one. The final two goals were on the power play.
Great Falls had seven penalties called against them while Helena had four resulting in 22 minutes of time in the penalty box.
Americans goaltender Bryan Sharp stopped 30 shots on his way to his first win for Great Falls. Nick Battaglia started for the Bighorns and accumulated 12 saves but surrendered four goals. Cody Brewer recorded 28 saves in the final forty minutes.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls starts their first road trip of the season as they travel to Gillette, Wyoming for a pair of games against the Wild on September 29th and 30th.