McSharry’s four goals help Great Falls cruise by Missoula

Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Scott

NOTE: Kevin Scott made the trip down to Missoula, Montana for the New Year’s Eve game between the Great Falls Americans and the MIssoula Junior Bruins.

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics

MISSOULA, Mont., December 31, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (24-7-0-1) carried a 5-1 record into their seventh meeting with the Missoula Jr. Bruins (16-13-0-0) on Monday night in Missoula.

After edging the Bozeman Ice Dogs 4-3 in an extra period on Friday in Bozeman and racking up 14 goals in a 14-4 dominating road performance on Saturday against the Butte Cobras, the Americans were hoping to end the month of December with their third straight win.

Meanwhile, the Missoula Jr. Bruins won two games Friday and Saturday. The Bruins defeated the Butte Cobras on Friday, 8-3 and then the following night, they upset the Helena Bighorns, 4-3 in overtime.

Payton McSharry had a huge night for the Great Falls Americans on Monday night in Missoula. The 6’2” forward from Alaska made four goals and Cody Dearing and Ben Rinckey added two goals apiece to help the Great Falls Americans easily defeat the Missoula Junior Bruins, 10-3.

Dylan Olson and Cody Dearing each scored 13 seconds apart to give the Great Falls Americans a two-goal advantage near the end of the first period. Jack Olson and Brandon Peterson assisted on Olson’s score while Payton McSharry and Nick Torres garnered the assists on Dearing’s tally. Bruins forward Misha Akatnov, the all-time leading scorer in the NA3HL, cut Missoula’s deficit to 2-1 with 13 seconds to go before the first intermission. Akatnov’s 42nd goal was assisted by Keith Zobel and Trevor Prince while the Americans were in the penalty box.

The Americans scored two more goals in the first six minutes of the middle stanza. Jack Olson and Ben Rinckey each recorded goals to increase the lead for the visiting squad, 4-1. Hendrik Robel assisted on both goals. Dylan Olson and Lindros Beard also gathered assists. Missoula scored their second goal of the game midway through the period when Keith Zobel and Connor Frye helped set up the play by Trevor Prince. Payton McSharry kept the Americans ahead by three goals (5-2) with help from Cody Dearing and Jens Juliussen before the period ended. The Americans held a 28-15 advantage on shots-on-goal after two periods.

Payton McSharry started the final period for the Americans by securing three consecutive goals. Trent Cowden and Brandon Peterson picked up the assists on McSharry’s short-handed goal. Cody Dearing and Jens Juliussen set up McSharry’s last two goals. Americans standout Cody Dearing secured the ninth goal for Great Falls with under nine minutes left in the contest. Bill Lucas answered late in the stanza for the Bruins with helpers coming from Ty Dittman and Riley Anderson. Ben Rinckey created his second scoring drive off the stick of Cody Dearing and Lindros Beard before the final period expired on a power play.

Great Falls ended their night with 46 shots after registering 28 after the first two periods. The Junior Bruins by taking 28 shots.

Most of the penalties came in the second and third periods. Great Falls and Missoula combined for 13 penalties resulting in 26 minutes of penalty time.

Viktor Wennberg was the winning goaltender for the Americans. The Sweden native swatted away 25 of the 32 shots he faced against the Bruins offense. Evan Williams started the contest for the host team, but Seth Daniel finished the game. Williams had 25 of the 36 saves.

NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans will be in Wyoming for a pair of games against the Gillette Wild on Friday and Saturday, January 4th and 5th with action beginning at 7:05PM each night from the Spirit Hall Ice Arena in Gillette.

Additional Media Coverage: December 31, 2018: MTN Sports (KPAX) (MontanaSports.com): Great Falls Americans cool off hot Missoula Bruins, 10-3