Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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BUTTE, Mont., September 19, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (1-1-0-0) entered tonight’s game against the Butte Cobras (0-2-0-0) as a 0.500 team after going 1-1 at the Great Falls Ice Plex last weekend against the Wyoming-based Gillette Wild to begin the 2019-20 season.
Great Falls easily defeated Gillette, 7-1 behind two goals apiece from Dylan Olson, Jake Hayes and Levi Mese. Mese, who received the NA3HL Stars of the Week Honorable Mention honors, and Olson were two of the dozen returners from last year’s playoff squad. Viktor Wennberg, who also received Honorable Mention in the Frontier Division this week, recorded 39 saves following a great season last year in the net. Gillette prevented Great Falls from going 2-0 after edging the Americans 2-1 on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, the Butte Cobras hosted the newest member of the Frontier Division, the Sheridan (WY) Hawks on Friday and Saturday evenings in Butte, Montana. The Hawks lit up the lamp eight times and kept Butte from scoring in an 8-0 romp with Sheridan out shooting the Cobras, 87-20. Butte scored twice on Saturday but fell to the visiting Hawks, 9-2.
On Thursday night, Great Falls played Butte in their first road test of the season for their third contest of the season. The Americans of head coach Greg Sears were looking to bounce back with their second win in three games after a tough loss on Saturday to Gillette. Would that happen?
Brody Boyce and Levi Mese chipped in two goals apiece to help the Great Falls Americans (2-1) hand the Butte Cobras (0-3) their third consecutive setback in as many games during Thursday’s action at the Butte Community Ice Center. The 5-2 win was the second win in three games for Great Falls.
Both squads kept the puck out of the net for the first 19:48 of the first stanza before Great Falls forward Brody Boyce scored his second goal of the season to give the Americans a slim advantage before the period expired. Great Falls goaltender Viktor Wennberg registered seven saves while his counterpart from Butte, Colton Marcy stopped 19 shots.
Levi Mese, the Alaska product, scored the lone goal of the middle period with help from fellow Alaskan Kellen Harris. The scoring drive came during the opening 87 seconds while the Cobras were short-handed. The goal was Mese’s third goal in two games while Harris’ assist was his first for Great Falls. The visiting team created 22 shots and held the Cobras to 16.
Twenty seconds into the final period, Tommy Janes passed the puck to an open Jack Olson to increase the Americans advantage to 3-0. Three minutes later, the host team converts a power play goal to avoid the shutout. Sidney, Montana native Kyler Garsjo garnered the first points for Butte thanks to assists from Saskatchewan’s Ty Stovin and Butte’s Carsten Quam. Brody Boyce secured his second goal on a Luke Richesin pass to maintain a three-goal lead with 15:16 remaining. Levi Mese put the finishing touches on the contest as he sailed the puck through Cobra goaltender Colton March for the fifth goal of the night for coach Greg Sears’ squad. The Cobras of head coach Chris Shadow netted the final scoring drive. Missoula native and returning forward Daniel Liner and Philip Winter collected the assists on the Robby Arver goal. The Americans offense out-shot the Cobras 34-9 in the period and racked up 76 shots compared to Butte’s 32.
Great Falls and Butte each tallied two goals via power play opportunities in the third period. Jack Olson and Levi Mese acquired goals while the opposition was down a man and Kyler Garsjo and Robby Arver converted both of Butte’s scores while Great Falls was in the penalty.
The lone game in the North American 3 Hockey League on Thursday evening saw 16 total penalties being handed out accounting for 53 minutes in the sin bin.
Viktor Wennberg got the start for the Americans and recorded 27 saves before being replaced for the final 8:55 by Vincent Marroni. The Plymouth, Michigan native stopped three of four shots. Colton Marcy of California took the loss for Butte but not before he earned 71 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: Great Falls and Butte will battle it out back at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday, September 21st with the game time set for 7:30PM. Former Great Falls American Jeremy Williamson will have all of the action on HockeyTV starting at 7:20PM.