By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 21, 2020 — On Friday morning, the Great Falls Americans (11-1-0-0) overcame a slow start to down the Missoula Junior Bruins 4-2 for their second win against the Missoula NA3HL junior hockey franchise. Missoula (8-3-2-0) led 2-0 after the first period before the Americans offense took over with four consecutive goals in the second and third stanzas to keep their undefeated streak at eleven games alive. Alex Jackson scored two of the four goals and goaltender Trever Mellen added 45 saves. The game was moved from Missoula, Montana to Helena, Montana due to the Missoula City-County Health Department’s guidelines for COVID-19 at the Glacier Ice Rink. Click here for more on the Missoula Junior Bruins being unable to host games.
Back on October 25th in Great Falls, the Americans defeated the Bruins 4-2 in their only other meeting this season after their October 24th game was postponed due to severe driving conditions between Great Falls and Missoula.
That was Friday, this is Saturday.
Great Falls was seeking their twelfth win in as many games on Saturday at home. Would they be able to get it?
The #2 Missoula Junior Bruins scored two goals in each of the first two periods and that was enough to edge the top-ranked Great Falls Americans, 4-3 to halt the Americans win streak at eleven games during Saturday’s junior hockey action at the Great Falls Ice Plex with no fans in attendance due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Great Falls was the last remaining undefeated team in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). The victory for Missoula moved them up behind Great Falls for second place in the Frontier Division standings.
Missoula’s offense came out to play racking up two goals in the first period while holding the Americans scoreless. A pair of forwards, Mi-Kwan Tallman, and Liam Bland each found the back of the net. Bland captured his team-leading 16th goal while Tallman registered his third of the season. Pablo Frank and Liam Bland assisted on Tallman’s first scoring drive 3:55 into the contest. Ian McIntosh added his seventh assist and Pablo Frank assisted for the eleventh time on the second score made by Bland with 5:08 remaining. Each team took 16 shots during the first twenty minutes.
Great Falls outscored Missoula 3-2 in the middle stanza but still trailed 4-3 as the second period ended. Garrett Weisenburger, Cole Komarek, and Harley Nyhuis each had successful scoring drives for the home team. Nick Silance earned two assists while Henry Chavez, Alex Jackson, Jake Hayes, and Braedon Monroe received one. Mi-Kwan Tallman netted his second goal in as many periods and Kade Levins chipped in his first of the season for the visiting squad. Liam Bland and Ian McIntosh gathered their second assist of the night and Sam Skillestad and Levi Knight each had one. Starting netminder, Trever Mellen was replaced by backup by Hunter Hadsock with under six minutes remaining. Hadsock entered the game for the second time this season.
Despite many chances and a stellar defense displayed by Great Falls and Missoula, no goals were allowed after the second intermission.
Great Falls led 34-31 in the shots-on-goal category after two periods and finished the night with 43. Missoula added 10 in the third for a total of 41.
Seven total power play chances went unanswered. There were 16 stoppages of play that lead to 89 minutes of penalty time between the two rivals.
Liam Bland (one goal, two assists) and Mi-Kwan Tallman (two goals) paced the winning team. Garrett Weisenburger, Cole Komarek, and Harley Nyhuis scored the three goals for the host team in the loss. Nick Silance had two assists for coach Greg Sears’ team.
Maxim Currie ran his record to 6-2-0-0 for the Bruins. He swatted away 40 of the 43 shots with three goals allowed coming in the middle period. Trever Mellen, who is 11-1-0-0 on the season, lasted 34 minutes and was pulled from the game with the Americans behind 4-1 in the second period. The North Branch, Minnesota native lost for the first time in eleven contests but not before recording 26 saves. Hunter Hadsock played 24 minutes and stopped all eleven shots sent his way.
NOTE: In an effort to slow down the coronavirus pandemic in Cascade County, the Cascade County Health Board has imposed an order that did not allow spectators in the stands at the Great Falls Ice Plex for tonight’s matchup with the Missoula Junior Bruins. This marks the first time this season that fans were not able to attend an NA3HL contest in Great Falls after allowing no more than 125 people prior to this weekend’s home game.
NEXT CONTEST: The Butte Cobras and Missoula Junior Bruins will be the next opponents for the Great Falls Americans next weekend. On Friday, November 27th, the Americans host the Cobras followed by Saturday’s (November 28th) encounter with the Bruins to close out the month of November. Both contests start at 7:30PM from the Great Falls Ice Plex with no spectators allowed. HockeyTV will provide the coverage for both nights. Click here for other viewing options.
Additonal Media Coverage: October 21, 2020: 406 MT Sports: Missoula Jr. Bruins deal Great Falls first loss of season
Additional Media Coverage: October 21, 2020: Great Falls Tribune: Great Falls Tribune: Americans’ bid for unbeaten season ends with 4-3 loss to Bruins