By Kevin Scott
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BILLINGS, Mont., February 12, 2016 — A week ago, the Great Falls Americans (28-10-2) and the Billings Bulls (9-26-4) met in Great Falls with the home team prevailing 7-3.
The Americans haven’t had any trouble picking up wins against the Bulls and are now 6-0 with two more matchups set within the next three weeks.
The Great Falls Americans rallied from being down a goal in the first period to defeat the Billings Bulls 6-1 at Centennial Ice Arena in Billings, Montana on Friday night. Tyler Garcia netted two goals and Kyle Johnson and Brendan Jester each racked up two assists apiece.
Chris Nicolai got the puck by Great Falls goaltender Jake Stephan to give the Bulls an early lead midway through the opening period. Zach Heiser assisted on the scoring drive. Tanner Congdon tied the contest up at 1-1 with his 20th goal of the season off the stick of Josh Larson, who recorded his 25th assist in 35 appearances. Miles Giorgione gave Great Falls their first lead of the night near the end of the period. Kyle Johnson and Brendan Jester assisted on the power play score with 1:53 left in the opening twenty minutes.
The Americans out-scored the Bulls 4-0 in the middle period to take a 6-1 lead. Alaska native Tyler Garcia scored two goals followed by one each from Brendan Jester and Kyle Johnson. Tanner Congdon and Malachi Bushey were credited with the assists on Garcia’s first goal eight minutes into the second stanza. The visiting Americans squad got their fourth goal from forward Brendan Jester with help from Miles Giorgione six minutes after the Garcia score. The Americans offense scored twice in the final minute of regulation. Garcia picked up his second goal with 53 seconds on the clock as Kyle Johnson added his second assist of the evening and Stevan Goran chipped in his first. Kyle Johnson got into the scoring column 37 seconds later as he got the puck by Billings net minder Gage Overby. Brendan Jester and Reed Link assisted.
Both defenses held up and neither team registered any goals in the last period of action.
The penalty kill for Great Falls was spotless as Billings couldn’t capitalize on any of their three power play chances. Great Falls went 1-for-2 with Miles Giorgione’s goal in the first period the only power play that was converted for the Americans.
Jeff Heimel’s squad took over 10 shots in each of the three periods and out-shot the Billings NA3HL hockey franchise 40-18.
In the win, Great Falls had four minor infractions for eight minutes while Billings incurred six minutes of penalty time with three minors.
Goaltender Jake Stephan allowed just one goal in 18 shots by the Billings offense. Gage Overby rejected 34 shots but did allow six goals in sixty minutes in the net for the home team.
NOTES: One change that happened since the Americans played last Thursday is the standings. For the first time all season long, the Great Falls Americans no longer hold the top spot in the Frontier Division. That spot belongs to the Yellowstone Quake (28-7-3). Great Falls posted a 7-3 victory over the Billings Bulls in their lone game last week. The Yellowstone Quake played twice defeating the Glacier Nationals (4-3 and 9-2) on Friday and Saturday, respectively and tonight earned a 3-0 shutout over Gillette to overtake Great Falls in the Frontier standings.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will face the Helena Bighorns in Helena, Montana on Saturday, February 13th at 7:00PM from the Helena Ice Arena.