By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 5, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (19-8-2) have had two overtime losses this season with one of those contests coming from the Gillette Wild back on September 29th in Wyoming. Great Falls has since been able to capture three straight victories over the Wild.
The Americans are playing the Gillette NA3HL junior hockey club in their first contest of 2018 on Friday evening as they tried to derail the Wild for a fourth time this season. Would they be able to win the matchup?
The Gillette Wild found a way to overpower the Great Falls Americans 5-3 on Friday evening in Great Falls as Brooks Mitzel scored four of the five goals for Wyoming. Mitzel scored on a power play and an empty net goal against the Americans.
Tanner Rath gave Great Falls their first and only lead with his lone goal coming via a power play while the Wild were down a man. Brandon Peterson and Trent Cowden gathered their seventh and fifth assists, respectively. The defenses allowed just 18 total shots to be taken during the twenty-minute period.
Brooks Mitzel put the visiting team on top 2-1 after scoring both goals for the Wild. Hunter Peterson, Jack Oberg, Gage Thompson and Nick Stockert turned in the assists. Mitzel’s last goal at the 16:52 mark of the middle period gave his squad the break they needed by scoring on one of their three total power play chances of the night.
The Americans trailed 4-1 in the final period of regulation before they were able to produce two scoring drives. Brooks Mitzel opened the scoring 75 second into the last frame. Towards the end of the period, more scoring would occur. Mtizel’s 34th goal of the season ensured the Wild would taste victory. Jack Oberg and Hunter Peterson racked up three assists on three of the scoring drives. The home team would cut the deficit to 4-3 during the final 1:29. Weston Goodman unassisted tally came before Ben Rinckey found the back of the net on a two-goal 36-second scoring spree. Jens Juliussen and Matt Janke contributed coach Jeff Heimel’s team with the assists on Rinckey’s score.
Gillette added more score during the final minute to assure the Wild the two-goal victory. Derek Scoggins with help from Josh Smith scored while the Americans pulled goaltender Bryan Sharp off the ice.
Despite Great Falls losing in regulation for just the eighth time (not counting two overtime losses), they held a 43-38 advantage on shots attempted.
Each team was whistled for three penalties including three in the opening stanza.
Cody Grogan added another win on the season for Gillette. He prevented 40 of the 43 shots from getting through him. Bryan Sharp ended the night with 33 saves.
NEXT CONTEST: The Gillette Wild stick around for another night at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Americans and the Wild battle on Saturday, January 6th at 7:30PM.