By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 28, 2016 — Twelve games into the NA3HL regular season and the Great Falls Americans (8-3-1-1) and their rival, the Helena Bighorns (4-7-1) finally met on the ice on Friday evening.
Great Falls went 1-1 last weekend in their two-game road trip to Gillette, Wyoming. Each team took home a one-point victory each night with Gillette edging Great Falls 4-3 on Friday and then Great Falls bested them 3-2 the following night for their seventh win.
Meanwhile, the Helena Bighorns fell to the visiting Yellowstone Quake last weekend in Helena. The Quake, the top team in the Frontier Division with a 10-0-0-1 record, outscored the Bighorns 13-3. Helena’s last victory came a week earlier when they easily defeated the Havre-based Glacier Nationals, 6-1.
Brendan Jester scored a hat trick in the first period and Tegan Harrington added two more in the final two periods to propel the Great Falls Americans to a 5-0 shutout victory over the Helena Bighorns on Friday night at the Great Falls Ice Plex.
The American quickly took control of the contest early in the first period. Veteran Brendan Jester scored twice in a four-minute span to put Great Falls up 2-0. Tegan Harrington assisted on each of the goals while Quinn Stuebner pick up one assist on the second scoring drive. Jester wasn’t done helping the home team as he scored his third goal (a hat trick) with four minutes left before the first intermission. The Alaska native now has 12 goals in 13 games. Tanner Congdon and Tegan Harrington helped set up the final goal of the period. There were two minor penalties called during the first twenty minutes. The Americans accumulated 23 of the 33 shots taken.
After assisting on each of the scores during the opening frame, Tegan Harrington tallied his first goal off a pass from defenseman Danny O’Donnell to increase the Great Falls lead to 4-0 3:45 into the middle period. Jester also was credited with the assist. Both defenses would not allow another goal with each squad taking over ten shots.
Tegan Harrington found the back of the net at the 4:46 mark of the last period. His unassisted score would help the Americans secure their fourth shutout victory.
Harrington’s second period score was the only power play (out of five) that Great Falls converted into points. Both NA3HL squad committed seven infractions resulting in 14 minutes in the penalty box. Helena’s four power play chances were unsuccessful.
Goaltender Kyler Ayers picked up his second win in three appearances for Great Falls. The Boise, Idaho native had 36 saves including 10 each in the first two periods of action. Nicholas Battaglia finished with 42 saves in his third loss of the season but allowed five goals including three in the first period.
NOTES: Earlier on Friday (Oct. 28th), the Great Falls Americans hosted a “Meet and Greet” at the Holiday Village Mall from 2:00PM until 4:00PM. The team had a variety of giveaways in addition to meeting the fans. The giveaways included a signed team jersey, hockey gear prize packs, free tickets for tonight’s game and giveaways from a variety of mall retailers. Star Radio also did a live remote from the event.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans start out the month of November with a two-game home series against the Gillette Wild on November 4th and 5th. Each night the games will begin from the Great Falls Ice Plex at 7:30PM.