By Kevin Scott
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CODY, Wyo., September 14, 2018 — During the 2017-18 season, the Great Falls Americans (2-0-0-0) and the Yellowstone Quake (0-1-0-0) met on the ice eight times with each team coming away with four victories during the regular season.
Both teams made the 2018 playoffs, but Great Falls bowed out during the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals when they got swept by the Helena Bighorns. Yellowstone took the Frontier Divisional title with sweeps over Gillette (Wild) and the Bighorns in the Divisional championship series. All playoff games were a best-of-three series.
Tonight, a new season begins with new players and lots of optimism from both squads. Great Falls blanked the Missoula Jr. Bruins 5-0 in the opening weekend of the 2018-19 regular season. The Quake didn’t play last weekend and were playing their first game at home against Great Falls.
The Great Falls Americans scored once in each period to top the defending Frontier Division champion Yellowstone Quake 3-2 on Friday evening in Cody, Wyoming. The Americans, under the direction of first-year coach Greg Sears, held Yellowstone scoreless during the final two periods.
Both teams found the back of the net quickly as the score was tied 1-1 during the opening minute of the NA3HL contest between these two rivals. The Quake scored first with Dylan Rumpke’s unassisted scoring drive. The lead wouldn’t last long as Great Falls’ Matt Janke lit up the lamp a few seconds later. Before the end of the period, Mason Merager got the puck to teammate Blake Billings to give the home team a 2-1 advantage.
Payton McSharry, a returner from last season’s Americans team, tied the contest at 2-2 at the midway point of the second stanza. Forwards Alexi Suchomlin and Matt Janke tacked on the assists.
Sean McLean, a 6’7” forward from Scarborough, Australia, broke the tie with his game-winning score with under five minutes left in regulation. McLean’s first scoring drive with the Americans came off the stick of Lindros Beard.
The junior hockey rivalry saw eight of the eleven total penalties coming during the final period.
Viktor Wennberg, one of two international players for Great Falls, secured his first win in his first game as a member of the Americans by rejecting 24 of the 26 shots he encountered. Yellowstone’s Michael Allman, a native of Sweden, recorded 70 saves while allowing three goals.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will play one more contest against the Wild on Saturday, September 15th. Game time is set for 7:30PM from Riley Arena. Great Falls will play their home season opener on Friday, September 21st when Yellowstone comes to the Great Falls Ice Plex for a two-game series.