By Kevin Scott
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HELENA, Mont., November 20, 2020 — Due to the Missoula City-County Health Department’s guidelines for COVID-19, the Great Falls Americans game didn’t take place in Missoula, Montana against the Missoula Junior Bruins like they were supposed to on Friday. Instead, the game was moved to the Helena Ice Arena in Helena, Montana, a neutral location but considered a home date for Missoula and was played at 11:30AM (MST). Click here for more on the Missoula Junior Bruins being unable to host games.
When the schedule was released back in September, today’s game was supposed to be the third meeting between these two Frontier Division rivals, but a severe snowstorm one month ago (October 24th) derailed those plans as Great Falls wasn’t able travel to Missoula, Montana. However, the Americans and Bruins were able to meet for their October 25th game in Great Falls, which was won by the home team, 4-2. Americans netminder Trever Mellen stopped 42 of 44 shots for his seventh win.
The Great Falls Americans trailed 2-0 after one period before their offense lit up the lamp for four goals over the final two periods to earn a 4-2 win over the Missoula Junior Bruins during Friday morning’s contest at the Helena Ice Arena in Helena, Montana. Forward Alex Jackson scored twice, and goaltender Trever Mellen picked up his tenth win of the season for Great Falls. The Great Falls Americans remain the only undefeated team in the 31-team North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) early in the season.
Washington native Pablo Frank and Colorado’s Liam Bland scored both first period goals to put the Bruins in front 2-0 before the first intermission. Forward Cayce Balk and defenseman Trevor Prince earned two assists apiece for first year coach Emerson Etem’s squad. Both scoring opportunities came while Great Falls was down a man due to penalties. Missoula’s offense accrued 17 shots while Great Falls attempted 10.
The score remained the same during first half of the middle period but with 9:38 on the clock, Great Falls’ Garret Weisenburger, a first-year member for the Americans from Grand Forks, North Dakota, cut the Americans deficit to 2-1. Nick Silance and Braedon Monroe were each credited with their first assist of the season as the Americans went into the locker room after the period concluded. A total of 34 shots were taken but only one goal was successful.
It did not take long, 2:28 to be exact, for Great Falls to even the game at 2-2 during the third period. Nick Silance chipped in his second assist of the game and Billings native Patrick Crooks, who appeared in his sixth game for coach Greg Sears’ team, also made his second assist on Micah Serino’s fourth tally in eight contests. The Americans captured their first lead with 12:08 remaining when Alex Jackson connected on the first of his two third period goals with helpers from Connor Doyle and Tommy Janes. Janes is second on the team in assists with 11 after Alex Jackson’s 12. The Americans led 3-2 until the final three seconds when Alex Jackson racked up his ninth goal via an empty net. Cole Komarek achieved his ninth assist while Connor Doyle grabbed his second assist of the day (seventh overall). Missoula pulled goaltender Maxim Currie during the final minute to get an extra player on the ice but could not find a way to score against the Great Falls defense.
Great Falls accumulated 43 of their 53 total shots after the first stanza. Missoula had a game-high 17 shots in the first period to finish with 47.
The Bruins scored both of their first period goals while on power play opportunities and ended the day by going 2-for-5. The Americans could not connect on their two chances. There was a huge difference in penalties as Great Falls was whistled for nine infractions that resulted in 70 minutes in the penalty box. Missoula stayed away from the sin bin throughout as they were called for two minor penalties with four minutes of penalty time.
Trever Mellen, who has played in 10 of the 11 games for Great Falls, added 45 more saves to his total of 297 and ran his record to 10-0. Missoula’s Maxim Currie dropped his record to 5-2-0-0, after winning his previous three games. The St. Albert, Alberta native recorded 49 saves in his rookie season for the Bruins.
NOTE: In an effort to slow down the coronavirus pandemic in Cascade County, the Cascade County Health Board has imposed an order that will not allow spectators in the stands at the Great Falls Ice Plex for Saturday’s home date (11/21/20) with the Missoula Junior Bruins. This marks the first time this season that fans will not be able attend an NA3HL contest in Great Falls after allowing no more than 125 people prior to this weekend’s home game.
NEXT CONTEST: After finishing three games on the road, the Great Falls Americans embark on a three-game home stand starting with Saturday’s November 21st game with the Missoula Junior Bruins. The action from the Great Falls Ice Plex begins at 7:30PM with no fans permitted in the arena. Click here for viewing options. On Thanksgiving weekend (November 27-28), Great Falls will entertain the Butte Cobras and Missoula Junior Bruins with a 7:30PM start time each night. Fans can continue to stream games online at HockeyTV.
Additional Media Coverage: November 13, 2020: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Friday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.
Additonal Media Coverage: October 20, 2020: 406 MT Sports: Unbeaten Great Falls Americans skate past Missoula Jr. Bruins
Additional Media Coverage: October 19, 2020: MTN Sports (KRTV): Great Falls Americans limited to no spectators at weekend’s contest against Missoula
Additional Media Coverage: October 19, 2020: Great Falls Tribune: Great Falls Tribune: Junior A Hockey: No fans to be admitted to Saturday’s Americans’ home contest
Additional Media Coverage: October 19, 2020: Great Falls Tribune: Americans, Bruins to meet on Helena ice Friday