Massie and Barta spark Great Falls to a 2-1 win against Helena
By Kevin Scott
HELENA, Mont., February 13, 2016 — When the Great Falls Americans (29-10-2) have faced the Helena Bighorns (21-17-0) in their five previous meetings, Great Falls has never allowed the Helena hockey team to score more than three goals per game.
Great Falls is 4-1 this season against their rivals 90 miles away. Their lone loss came on October 31st when they fell 3-2. At the time, that was the Americans first loss in seven road games and second overall.
The Great Falls Americans have now won three straight games by edging the Helena Bighorns 2-1 during NA3HL hockey action in Helena on Saturday night. Great Falls native Connor Barta added the go-ahead score for the Americans in the third period.
Great Falls and Helena played the first twenty minutes without putting any points on the scoreboard. Each squad failed to convert on their one power play opportunity. Great Falls goalie Lauren Massie stopped all 11 shots.
The Great Falls Americans found the back of the net for the first points of the contest nearly six minutes into the middle period. Americans standout Ricards Bernhards received a pass from Miles Giorgione and Tyler Garcia for the score over Bighorns goaltender Adam Ranck. The Helena offense found a way to tie the game at 1-1 midway through the stanza. Cody Vanthournout took advantage of the power play and sailed the puck over Great Falls goalie Lauren Massie for the score with help from Ryan Daugherty and Riley Keays. The game quickly turned into a physical game late in the period. Ricards Bernhards and Jesse Johnson both received ejections for fighting as did Helena’s John Heddle and Blake Babineau. The visiting team took 13 shots while holding Helena to six.
Great Falls’ Connor Barta, who will suit up as a member of the Frontier team at the Top Prospects Tournament starting on Monday, broke the tie in the final period with the short-handed scoring play assisted by Arseny Ivanov that proved to be the game-winner.
The rivalry between these two hockey franchises was filled with many penalties. Great Falls tallied nine penalties (seven minors and two majors) for 44 minutes of penalty time. Meanwhile, the host team was faced with four minors and two majors resulting in 48 minutes in penalty time.
The Bighorns goal by Cody Vanthournout provided the only goal made via a power play. The Americans failed to capitalize on their two power play chances.
In the final period, Great Falls took 11 more shots (21-10) than Helena had and held a 43-27 advantage during the three periods.
Lauren Massie added 26 more saves to his season total of 465 while Adam Ranck rejected 41 shots in the loss.
NEXT CONTEST: The NA3HL hockey league takes a break from play so all of the league’s best players can participate in the 2016 Top Prospects Tournament in Plymouth, Michigan beginning on Monday, February 15th through Wednesday, February 17th. The top players in the league perform before college and pro scouts. For more information (including rosters) about the Top Prospects Tournament, please click here. Fans can also follow the action live at FastHockey and see the stats updated live on the NA3HL Scoreboard.
League play will resume for the Americans on Friday, February 19th when they travel to Helena, Montana to face the Bighorns at 7:00PM from the Helena Ice Arena. Great Falls returns to the confines of the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday, February 20th against Helena at 7:30PM.