By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 2, 2015 — The Helena Bighorns and Great Falls Americans renewed their NA3HL rivalry on Friday night in Great Falls. In their last meeting on November 23rd in Helena, Great Falls came away with a 3-1 win.
Despite a loss in Billings on Wednesday night, the Americans returned home to the Great Falls Ice Plex where they are currently 14-3 on home ice (25-4 overall) and remain in first place in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. Meanwhile, the Bighorns from Helena, who had a four-game winning streak, are 19-7-1 and they sit in third place behind Gillette and Great Falls.
Both teams came prepared in their fourth meeting of the season with the Americans taking the first three contests.
The Americans downed the Helena Bighorns on Friday night 3-1 to pick up their 25th victory of the season in their first matchup of 2015 at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Americans stopped the Bighorns four game win streak by scoring once during each period.
Great Falls held on to a 1-0 lead over Helena after the first period. Wade Wylie netted his eighth goal of the season late in the period. Michael Kliment and Robert Kalata chipped in the assists for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad. The Bighorns had 18 of the 26 total shots on goal. Kliment’s 15th assist and Kalata’s 13th assist of the season came with 4:40 on the clock.
Lucas Stover scored the lone points of the middle period. The Americans second goal of the night came six minutes before the second intermission with assistance from Connor Barta and Reed Link. Link and Barta each added their sixth assist on the scoring drive. The Americans were out-shot by the Helena franchise 33-19 after the first two periods of action.
The Americans led 3-0 after a goal by Cody Page in the final stanza. After scoring a goal in the middle period, Stover picked up the assist and Erik Gatson was also credited with his first assist of the game with 12:17 remaining in regulation. Before the end of the period, Helena’s Georgy Ostapchuk registered a power play goal that was assisted by Johnny Bonta and Bryan Knesel to eliminate the shutout.
Helena had 3 infractions for six minutes and Great Falls finished with four infractions for eight minutes of penalty time.
Georgy Ostapchuk converted the only power play opportunity for the Bighorns. Great Falls missed on their two chances.
The Helena NA3HL franchise put up 49 shots against Americans goaltender Lauren Massie but scored just one time. Great Falls added 26 in the victory.
Adam Ranck contributed 23 saves for Helena while Lauren Massie stopped 48 of the 49 shots he faced against the Helena offense. Massie is now 11-4 on the season and has 374 saves for Great Falls.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans play their third game in four days as they will challenge the same Helena Bighorns squad on Saturday, December 3, 2015 at 7:00PM from the Helena Ice Arena in Helena, Montana.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – 1, Great Falls, Wade Wylie (Michael Kliment, Robert Kalata), 15:20.
Second Period – 2, Great Falls, Lucas Stover (Connor Barta, Reed Link), 14:14.
Third Period – 3, Great Falls, Cody Page (Lucas Stover, Erik Gatson), 7:43. 4, Helena, Georgy Ostapchuk (power play) (Johnny Bonta, Bryan Knesel), 17:39.
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 26, Helena 49.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-2, Helena 1-for-3.
Attendance – 538
Additional Media Coverage: January 3, 2015: ABC/FOX Montana: Great Falls stops Helena’s four game win streak with a 3-1 win
Additional Media Coverage: January 3, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Americans stymie Bighorns