By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
BUTTE, Mont., March 19, 2021 — The #2 Great Falls Americans (25-11-2-0) have had an easy time with the last-place #8 Butte Cobras (7-28-3-1) this season by racking up seven consecutive victories. The head-to-head matchups included one overtime win and a shootout victory. In each contest this season, Great Falls never allowed Butte to score more than two goals per contest as the Americans outscored them 36-10.
A week ago, Great Falls clinched a playoff berth and after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Bozeman Ice Dog, they will go into the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals as the #2 seed. Butte were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention awhile ago but finish out their season on Saturday (March 20th) when they play host to the Helena Bighorns.
The #2 Great Falls Americans scored one goal in each of the first periods to hold on for a 2-1 road victory over the #8 Butte Cobras during Friday evening’s NA3HL action at the Butte Community Ice Center. Jackson Henningsgard assisted on both scoring plays for the Americans.
Great Falls broke the scoreless tie 10:02 into the opening period when forward Alex Jackson accumulated his 18th goal of the season that was set up by Jackson Henningsgard and Kobe Pane, who each received their 13th assist. The first goal of the game came on a power play when a member of the Cobras was called for tripping.
Randy Yeakley, a Helena native, added his seventh goal of the season fifteen minutes into the second stanza as the Cobras evened up the game with help from Nick Bradshaw and Luke Schlensner. Two minutes later, Jake Hayes broke free and lit up the lamp in what would become the game-winning score in the middle period. Jackson Henningsgard and Nick Silance secured the assists.
Despite 29 shot attempts in the third frame, both teams failed to find the back of the net.
Just seven penalties were issued between both Montana rivals that resulted in 22 minutes of time spent in the sin bin. Great Falls’ Alex Jackson had the only successful power play opportunity.
Trever Mellen finished with 36 saves after allowing one goal in the middle period. The Minnesota netminder won his 19th game of the season (19-6-1-0) and is currently in ninth place in the league (and the only goalie ranked in the top ten in the Frontier Division) with a Goals-Against-Average (GAA) of 2.35.
Butte’s Griffen McAndrews took his fourth loss in five appearances as the Buffalo, New York native ended the night with 12 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: With just two NA3HL regular season games remaining, the Great Falls Americans will make the drive to Missoula, Montana to face the Missoula Junior Bruins on Saturday, March 20th for a 4:00PM start from the Glacier Ice Rink. This will be the final regular season contest between the Americans and Junior Bruins as Missoula will not field a team next year (see story) but it is possible they might meet in the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals in two weeks. On Tuesday, March 23rd, the Americans cap off their 2020-21 season with a final road game against the Helena Bighorns. The season finale will begin at 7:05PM from the Helena Ice Arena. HockeyTV is the official streaming source for NA3HL hockey games and fans can watch with a paid subscription.