By Kevin Scott
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CODY, Wyo., January 14, 2017 — The second-ranked Great Falls Americans (25-3-2-3) and the top-ranked Yellowstone Quake (27-3-0-3) met on Friday night in what turned out to have an exciting finish.
Great Falls, who is 1-2 on the season against Yellowstone, needed to settle the NA3HL junior hockey contest in a shootout after a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation and a no score in the five-minute overtime. Tegan Harrington scored the first goal in the shootout while teammate Payton McSharry, who came over earlier this season from the Missoula Jr. Bruins in a trade, tallied the game-winning score over Yellowstone goaltender Nick Ottenbacher.
What would happen when these two teams collide in their fourth meeting of the season? Both teams will finish out the regular season in a rematch during the first week in March.
For the second consecutive game, the Great Falls American went on the road and earned a shootout victory over the Yellowstone Quake. This time, Great Falls defeated the Cody, Wyoming team 2-1 at Riley Arena during Saturday’s junior hockey action. Adam Vandenbos was the only player to score during the shootout.
In the first period, Reed Kelly got the puck to Ian Doner for this 41st assist of the season to give the home team a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game. The score would hold up throughout the rest of the frame with no scoring during the final 15 minutes of action. The quick opening period saw just one minor penalty from each team with the Quake out-shooting the Americans 13-3.
Great Falls and Yellowstone struggled to find the back of the net after the first intermission. The scoreless period featured a combined 20 shots-on-goal and no penalties.
The Quake maintained their one goal lead until the final 91 seconds of the third when Tegan Harrington’s shot landed into the net over Yellowstone goalie Nick Ottenbacher to tie the contest at 1-1 and send the game into an extra period.
For the second straight night, the top two teams in the Frontier Division found themselves going into a shootout after not tallying any goals during the overtime period.
After six players from both sides failed to score in the shootout, forward Adam Vandenbos got the puck between the pipes for the game-winning score over Quake netminder Nick Ottenbacher.
The contest featured seven power plays but no points were scored while down a man. The majority of the penalties occurred in the third period. There were four penalties called on each team.
Nick Nast won his fourteenth game of the season. The California goaltender swatted away 30 of the 31 shots that Yellowstone sent his way. Nick Ottenbacher picked up the loss for the second consecutive night in a shootout. He finished with 24 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Gillette Wild invaded the Great Falls Ice Plex for a two-game series against the Great Falls Americans next weekend (Friday, January 20th and Saturday, January 21st) with the action starting at 7:30PM each night.