By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 16, 2017 — The 2016-17 season was a great one for the Great Falls Americans Junior A hockey team. The team was led by Jeff Heimel and finished the regular season in second place to the Yellowstone (WY) Quake with a 38-4-2-3 record. The Great Falls junior hockey franchise needed two games against the Gillette Wild in the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals to land a spot in the Divisional Finals against the regular season champions. The Americans chipped away and took the Quake to the third and decisive game before falling and ending their season.
How would the 2017-18 Americans fare?
The Great Falls Americans opened the season with a home contest against the Bozeman Ice Dogs. Each squad scored twice in the first frame before the home team took control on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Bozeman NA3HL franchise.
Bozeman’s Daniel Davis put the first points on the board off an assist by Ryan Stokes during the first three minutes of action. The rest of the scoring didn’t happen until the final four minutes of the opening period when Cody Dearing and Adam Vandenbos found Matt Janke open for the score over Bozeman goaltender Drew Pehrson. Nick DeLong broke 1-1 tie for the visiting team a minute later. Before the end of the first twenty minutes, Payton McSharry found Cody Dearing for the successful short-handed score.
The middle period was all Great Falls. Luke Richesin, Garrett Peters and Nate Simpson all found the back of the net. Tanner Rath, Braxton Lorenz and Michael Fary all earned the assists.
Neither team was able to score in the final period despite Great Falls taking 17 shots while limiting the Ice Dogs to just two.
Mack Willy picked up his first win as a member of the Great Falls Americans. The Tacoma, Washington native swatted away 14 of the 16 shots sent his way. Meanwhile, Drew Pehrson played the first 22 minutes before Parker Orchard came in as his replacement. The two Bozeman goaltenders combined for 54 saves with Pehrson taking the loss.
Both squads had five power play opportunities with Bozeman’s Nick DeLong capitalizing for the only score while the Americans were down a man.
Great Falls’ Matt Janke converted both of his first and third period goals while on the power play. The Nationals failed to convert any of their four attempts.
The opening night crowd of nearly 800 fans saw 13 total penalties for 34 minutes.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans continue their three-game home stand with a pair of back-to-back contests against the Helena Bighorns on September 22nd and 23rd at 7:30PM at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
Additional Media Coverage: September 15, 2017: Great Falls Tribune: Americans to open hockey season Saturday
Additional Media Coverage: September 17, 2017: Great Falls Tribune: Americans top Icedogs in opener