Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 28, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (6-0-0-0) didn’t know what type of team the Butte Cobras were since they are entering their first season as a member of the NA3HL in the Frontier Division.
The Americans knew that Butte (0-6-0-0) was winless in their first five games of competition but didn’t know the talent level. Butte has played Helena twice (8-1 and 10-1 losses), Bozeman twice (13-0 and 8-1 losses), and Missoula once (11-3 loss). All contests have been at the Butte Community Ice Center except the visit to Missoula. It has been 16 years since Butte (Fighting Irish) played in Great Falls when the Americans and Butte were members of the American West Hockey League (AWHL).
Great Falls has breezed through their competition so far with an undefeated record. Great Falls has only played two teams though as they opened with a road game at Missoula and then back-to-back road and home games against the defending Frontier Division champion, Yellowstone Quake.
How would the home team do with the new competition?
The Great Falls Americans continue to remain undefeated as they cruise by the Butte Cobras 12-1 during Friday’s NA3HL contest that was witnessed by the 850 fans at the Great Falls Ice Plex. Minnesota native Jack Olson chipped in four goals for a hat trick and Garrett Peters secured three goals for coach Greg Sears’ 6-0 squad.
Eight minutes into their contest with Butte, Great Falls scored twice during a 22 second span. First, Jack Olson was able to get the puck into the goal over Butte netminder Nate Merriman at the 8:15 mark of the first period. Braydon Smith and Lindros Beard gathered the assists. Matt Janke followed up with his fifth season goal thanks to Jens Juliussen and Luke Richesin, who helped set up the play. Great Falls put up a lot of shots (29) while the Cobras attempted 3 shots after twenty minutes of action.
Great Falls and Butte each made goals during the opening nine minutes of the middle period. Great Falls native Braxton Lorenz earned the assist off Jack Olson’s second score of the game to put the host team ahead 3-0. Garrett Peters, a forward from Anchorage, Alaska, tallied the fourth goal for the Americans 76 seconds after Olson’s scoring drive with Matt Janke and Jens Juliussen picking up the assists. The Cobras fought back and cut the deficit to 4-1 when Lewallen Newman found the back of the net off the stick of Ethan Doney. Jack Olson produced his third goal (hat trick) of the game after the midway point of the stanza. Olson’s third point of the contest went unassisted with 8:02 on the clock to push the lead to 5-1. The Americans netted their sixth goal before the second intermission when Garrett Peters found the open lane for his second score of the evening. Lindros Beard racked up his fourth assist in six games. The home team attempted 32 shots to give them a game total of 61 while Butte managed eight shots after having three in the opening period.
During the final period, Great Falls lit up the lamp six times including two goals 13 seconds apart. Payton McSharry, currently the Americans second leading scorer behind Jack Olson (7), scored his sixth goal on an unassisted tally. Ben Rinckey added his first points of the contest moments later. Two Americans collected assists on the play including Lindros Beard and Jack Olson. Two of the final four goals would be scored while Butte was down a man. Jack Olson contributed his fourth goal in 47 minutes while Nate Simpson, Garrett Peters and Nick Ramstad all tacked on goals. Peters finished with a hat trick including two goals in the second stanza.
The Americans dominated in the shots-on-goal category over Butte by the score of 89-13.
Most of the penalties came in the final frame where Great Falls committed five of their eight infractions, which resulted in 24 minutes in the penalty box. Butte, who fell for the sixth time in six games this season, was called for five.
Cam Macintosh, who played in front of his hometown, swatted away 12 of the 13 shots in his first action in an Americans uniform. Meanwhile, Nate Merriman fell to 0-4 on the season for the Cobras. The Kansas product registered 77 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls will play their fourth road game of the season against the Helena Bighorns on Saturday, September 29th. Game time is set for 7:05PM from the Helena Ice Arena.
Additional Media Coverage: September 28, 2018: MTN Sports (KRTV): Great Falls Americans stay undefeated, 12-1 over Butte