Larson scores game-winning goal for Americans in 3-2 win over Bozeman
By Kevin Scott
GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 15, 2016 — The Bozeman Ice Dogs (19-6-6) have given the Great Falls Americans (23-7-2) all they can handle in their three meetings this season.
The two top teams in the Frontier Division of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) have battled hard against each other and the outcome has been a one-point difference each time. The Americans needed a shootout to claim a 4-3 victory against the Ice Dogs in October. Bozeman then rebounded and came away with two wins (2-1) and (4-3) in the month of November. The Ice Dogs have out-scored Great Falls 9-8 coming into Friday’s contest.
Behind the efforts of goaltender Jake Stephan and forward Josh Larson, the top-ranked Great Falls Americans held on for a 3-2 win over the second place Bozeman Ice Dogs during Pam Nommensen Farmers Insurance Night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Friday night matchup saw over 815 spectators enjoying a night of NA3HL hockey. Larson provided the game-winning score with six minutes left in regulation.
The first period went back and forth with no team picking up any goals. Both teams came ready to play but managed a total of 15 shots-on-goal with the visitors from Bozeman having eight. Each team finished the first stanza with three penalties apiece.
Alaska natives Tyler Garcia and Tanner Congdon each chipped in goals halfway through the middle period for Great Falls. Garcia’s short-handed goal was assisted by forward Adam Apangalook with 9:15 remaining in the second while Ricards Bernhards and Reed Link tallied the assists on Congdon’s scoring drive. The Ice Dogs pulled to within one goal (2-1) as Minnesota native Kegan Couture added the first points for the Bozeman squad with 52 seconds remaining before the second intermission. The visiting team received assists by teammates Gunnar Mogck and Dylan Michaud. The Americans had 14 shots on goal and held a 21-14 advantage after the first two periods.
Bozeman came back to tie it at 2-2 at the 8:25 mark of the third period. Dylan Michaud found an open Gunnar Mogck during the first power play score of the game. The Americans regained the lead (3-2) for good a few minutes later. Josh Larson broke the tie with his power play goal with assistance from Tanner Congdon and Wade Wylie.
The Ice Dogs and Americans each scored one of their goals via a power play. Great Falls had 10 minor infractions while racking up 20 minutes of penalty time. Bozeman had a difficult time staying out of the penalty box and accumulated nine penalties for 26 minutes.
Jake Stephan picked up his eleventh win of the season in the net for Great Falls. The goaltender from Wisconsin recorded 30 saves and helped the home team come away with their 23rd victory of the season. Stephen Frank of Bozeman allowed three goals and finished with 25 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans have a two-game home stand with the Gillette Wild on Saturday, January 16th at 7:30PM followed by a Sunday matinee (January 17th) beginning at 4:00PM at the Great Falls Ice Plex.