By Kevin Scott
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BOZEMAN, Mont., January 28, 2017 — When the playoff-bound Great Falls Americans (29-3-2-3) and the Bozeman Ice Dogs (21-15-2-0) met earlier on the ice, both teams came away with a win.
The Americans met the Ice Dogs in their third game of the season back in September in Great Falls. Great Falls topped Bozeman 7-2 for their third straight victory.
In a rematch on October 8th, the Bozeman Ice Dogs squeaked out a 5-4 win in a shootout in Bozeman, Montana.
In the last ten games, Great Falls has gone undefeated including two wins against the top-ranked Yellowstone Quake and an 11-0 win last night against the Billings Bulls in Billings, Montana. Meanwhile, Bozeman, who has also already clinched a spot in the playoffs in March, had their four-game winning streak snapped by the Quake on Friday night in Wyoming by the score of 5-3.
Would Great Falls get to taste their eleventh victory in as many contests or would Bozeman get back to their winning ways on Saturday night?
The Great Falls Americans escaped with a 5-4 win in a game that saw the Bozeman Ice Dogs lead for most of the game. Tegan Harrington scored two goals and forward Payton McSharry provided the game-winning tally with 1:11 in the final period to keep the eleven-game win streak intact.
The first period saw each team score two goals apiece while down a man. Tegan Harrington responded during the first 2:39 when he lit the lamp for the visiting squad with help from Brendan Jester and Tanner Congdon. Bozeman tied up the contest and then took a 2-1 lead over the Americans. The goals by the Ice Dogs went to Carmon Teel and Kadin Ferguson. Bozeman native Cade Hanley and Alaska’s Gabe Rankin assisted on Teel’s game-tying score while Liam Miller of Colorado set up Ferguson’s go-ahead score. Brendan Jester tied it up for the Americans with 4:36 left in the period. Tegan Harrington and Tanner Congdon each added an assist.
Carmon Teel broke the tie for Bozeman during the opening 58 seconds of the second period. Teel’s second score of the game put the Ice Dogs up 3-2. Gabe Rankin earned his 11th assist of the season and second in the game. Bozeman took advantage and scored their third power play goal when Kadin Ferguson and Cade Hanley assisted on Liam Miller’s score before the end of the stanza to increase Bozeman’s lead (4-2). Despite trailing on the scoreboard, Great Falls took five more shots (38-33) after two periods of action.
Great Falls did not let a small deficit get in their way during the final period of regulation. Payton McSharry and Tanner Congdon each received an assist when Tegan Harrington’s power play goal over Bozeman goaltender Luke Olson sailed through the net during the first two minutes. Wisconsin native Matt Janke tied up the game (4-4) 76 seconds after Harrington’s successful scoring drive. Jens Juliussen provided his first assist in a Great Falls uniform since coming over in a trade from the Missoula Jr. Bruins. Payton McSharry took advantage of a Bozeman penalty and gave Great Falls their first lead (5-4) since the first six minutes of the NA3HL contest. Ricards Bernhards assisted on what would become the game-winning score for the Americans,
The winning team provided two successful power play goals in the first and third periods and finished by going 4-for-9. Bozeman had three goals via the power play.
The teams combined for 17 penalties resulting in 42 minutes of penalty time.
Great Falls took 18 shots in the final two periods and ended the sixty-minute contest with 56 shots along with five goals. Bozeman logged 20 of their 43 shot attempts in the middle period.
A night after collecting 25 saves in an 11-0 win against the Billings Bulls, Kyler Ayers totaled 39 saves for the winning squad. Luke Olson allowed five goals despite the 51 saves in the loss for the Ice Dogs.
NEXT CONTEST: The Helena Bighorns will be the opponents for the Great Falls Americans next week (Feb.2-3). The Americans return to the Great Falls Ice Plex for the first of their three remaining home games on Thursday, Feb. 2nd. Game time is set for 7:30PM. The team will make the trip to the capital city on Friday (Feb. 3) for a 7:05PM showdown.