Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., September 14, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (1-1-0) made sure to start the 2019-20 season on a winning note as the home fans welcomed back their NA3HL hockey team with lots of exciting moments.
On Friday night, Great Falls never trailed against the visiting Gillette Wild (1-1-0) and went on to easily defeat the Wyoming junior hockey squad, 7-1 as three players as Jake Hayes, Dylan Olson and Levi Mese accounted for six of the seven goals for coach Greg Sears’ young squad.
Tonight, the Great Falls Americans were looking for their second victory in as many nights against the same Gillette squad they played the night before.
Declan Young’s third period goal was enough to lift the Gillette Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Great Falls Americans in the second game of the season for both teams on Saturday evening in Great Falls.
The Wild needed 5:34 to take their first lead of the contest as Nathaniel Fanning forward got the puck between the pipes with returning defenseman Ethan Becker earning his first of the night and second of the season. Jacob Kaminski assisted on the opening goal. Great Falls evened up the game three minutes later. Logan Rachow and Justin Ohnstad were each awarded the one assist apiece on Brody Boyce’s first score. Gillette’s offense came alive in the first stanza as they were able to create 20 shots while Great Falls finished the first twenty minutes with 11. Each squad had one unsuccessful power play.
Both teams played back and forth in the middle period but neither team could light up the lamp. The second stanza saw just 21 shots combined and the two NA3HL Frontier Division teams each committed two penalties.
The Wild reclaimed the lead in the third frame (after a scoreless middle period), 2-1 as Caleb Sanborn and Tyler Kaminski set up the second goal by Declan Young. Young’s scoring drive five minutes into the period proved to be the game-winner with both goaltenders swatting away shots the rest of the way.
After Great Falls scored on seven successful scoring opportunities the night before, the Americans offense struggled throughout the night despite 36 shot attempts. Gillette finished with 37.
The Wild and Americans registered three penalties each resulting in six minutes of penalty time. Six combined power plays went unanswered.
Wyoming goaltender Anthony Seykora had a better night in the net than Brad Muzarelli and Shane Phillips had the previous contest. The 5’11” Seykora swatted away 35 of the 36 shots including 13 during the scoreless second period. Meanwhile, Minnesota native Trever Mellen got his first start for Great Falls and finished with 35 saves but did allow one third period score that proved to be the difference.
The 825 spectators witnessed the American fall for the first time this season.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans now will face their first road test when they head to Butte, Montana on Thursday, September 19th to challenge the Butte Cobras. The puck is set to drop at 7:30PM from the Butte Community Ice Center. The Cobras will then make the trip to Great Falls on Saturday, September 21st with game time set for 7:30PM.
Additional Media Coverage: September 16, 2019: Great Falls Tribune: Americans split season-opening series with Gillette