Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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CODY, Wyo., February 15, 2020 — The Great Falls Americans (29-9-4-1) closed out their 2019-20 regular season trip to Wyoming by claiming their fourth shutout victory in six games against the Yellowstone Quake (17-23-2-1).
The Great Falls Americans earned a 5-0 shutout victory behind the efforts of Logan Rachow, one of three Americans that will play at the 2020 Top Prospects Tournament in Massachusetts on Monday (February 17th) and Tuesday (February 18th), who scored two goals and Great Falls goaltender Trever Mellen gathered his third shutout win this season by stopping all 22 shots. Great Falls’ leading scorer Jake Hayes and assist leader Jack Olson will also be a part of the Frontier Division squad. The Americans won back-to-back games for the first time since the weekend of January 3rd and 4th when they outscored the Gillette Wild, 11-4 on the road.
Meanwhile, Yellowstone is now 0-4 in the month of February with singles losses to the top two teams in the Frontier Division, the #1 Bozeman Ice Dogs (36-6-0-1) and the current #2 ranked Sheridan (WY) Hawks (34-8-1-0) along with the weekend setback with Great Falls.
Blake Nerney, a forward from St. Louis, Missouri, notched his eleventh goal of the season with 3:55 remaining in the first period to put the visitors on the scoreboard first. Brody Boyce and Luke Richesin assisted on the power play tally. Thirty-one shot attempts with one goal allowed highlighted the opening stanza.
After the first intermission, three different Great Falls Americans earned successful scoring drives for second-year coach Greg Sears’ team. The second of three power play goals came with 13:24 remaining in the second when Kellen Harris and Jack Olson aided the first of two goals made by Logan Rachow. Then, nearly five minutes later, Henry Chavez’s sixth goal increased the lead to 3-0 with assists coming from Nick Torres and Braydon Rachow. Luke Richesin accrued his second goal of the season (15th point) before the period ended with help from Blake Nerney, who recorded his 18th assist. Great Falls outshout Yellowstone 26-10 in the second frame and took twice as many shots after the first forty minutes (45-22).
The third period saw just one score by the Americans. Logan Rachow acquired his seventh goal while playing in all 43 games this season. Jack Olson collected his second assist of the night (41st overall) while Dylan Olson dished out his 18th while the Quake were down a man due to a penalty.
Logan Rachow paced Great Falls with two goals, Blake Nerney had one goal and one assist and Jack Olson chipped in two assists while netminder Trever Mellen had 22 saves.
Great Falls won their second straight and the weekend series by taking 46 of the 68 shots in the game.
The small crowd inside Wyoming’s Riley Arena on Saturday witnessed 16 stoppages of play along with 32 minutes of combined time in the sin bin. Three of Great Falls’ five goals came while the host team was down a man. The Americans went 3-for-8 while the Quake finished 0-for-3 on the power play.
Trever Mellen, ninth in the league with a GAA of 2.20 and a save percentage of 0.937, received his third shutout victory with perfect games including October’s 4-0 win in Sheridan, Wyoming and December’s home win against Yellowstone (10-0). The Minnesota goalie swatted away all 22 shots put up by the Quake’s offense.
Hudgel Selk, a first year netminder from Cody, Wyoming, suffered his third loss in seven appearances for the fifth-place team in the Frontier Division. Selk allowed four goals during his 35 minutes in the net before being replaced by Norwegian Michael Allman, who played the rest of the contest and had eight saves.
The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) now shifts to their annual two-day Top Prospects Tournament taking place for the second straight year at the New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Massachusetts on Monday and Tuesday (February 17-18th). For more information, including rosters and schedules, please click here.
NEXT CONTEST: The #7 Missoula Junior Bruins (15-26-1-0) and the #1 Bozeman Ice Dogs (36-6-0-1) will be the Americans opponents for next weekend’s games (February 21st and 22nd). On Friday evening, Great Falls will travel to the Garden City to face the Missoula Junior Bruins with the game set for 7:05PM from the Glacier Ice Rink. Great Falls is 4-0 against Missoula with two meetings remaining. Great Falls will play their final regular season contest at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday against one of the best clubs in the NA3HL, the Bozeman Ice Dogs, who they haven’t been able to defeat yet this season in their previous five matchups. The home season finale is set for 7:30PM with both games scheduled to be streamed live on HockeyTV.