By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard (Playoffs)||Americans Team Statistics|
SHERIDAN, Wyo., April 10, 2021 —The #1 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (43-2-0-0) and the #2 Great Falls Americans (30-13-3-0) each won a game during the best-of-three 2021 Frontier Division Finals leading up to the third and final game on Saturday to see who would advance to the 2021 Fraser Cup (National) Tournament taking place in St. Peters, Missouri from April 15-19, 2021.
When the regular season concluded, Sheridan and Great Falls were the top two teams in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. During the first round of the playoffs (NA3HL Frontier Division Semi-Finals), Sheridan needed just two games to win their best-of-three series against the #4 Missoula Junior Bruins while Great Falls needed all three games to win their series against the #3 Gillette (WY) Wild.
The top-ranked Sheridan Hawks scored twice in the second and third periods to down the #2 Great Falls Americans, 4-1 during the third and decisive Game 3 of the Frontier Divisional Finals held at the Whitney Rink in the M&M’s Center on Saturday evening. Sheridan’s Blake Billings and Jacob Cummings each registered one goal and two assists and netminder Christian Wong-Ramos was solid in the net for the Hawks by swatting away 37 of the 38 shots. Wong-Ramos’ only blemish came during the final 3:59 remaining in the middle period when Great Falls’ Thomas Gazich lit up the lamp for the only tally for the visiting Americans.
Zach Brydges and Jacob Cummings put up the first goals of the game for the Hawks. The goals came within the first 7:30 of the middle period after both teams failed to score during the first stanza. Justin Schwartzmiller, Blake Billings and Simon Herz gathered the assists. Cummings, who gave Sheridan, a 2-0 lead scored on the penalty kill for Wyoming.
Great Falls lone goal came during the second period when Jackson Henningsgard and Alex Jackson found Thomas Gazich for the goal while the Americans were on the power play. Sheridan nearly took twice as many shots (45-23) than Great Falls after the first forty minutes.
A one goal difference separated both teams (2-1) for the first fifteen minutes of the third frame before Blake Billings Nick Wieben chipped in both goals to ensure the victory by the host team. Jacob Cummings and Nick Tigges assisted on the Billings scoring drive while Blake Billings and Jacob Cummings set up the fourth goal by Nick Wieben, who scored the empty net tally.
Sheridan had 20 or more shots in the first and second periods to finish with 57. Great Falls had 15 of their 38 shots coming in the third frame.
The final playoff game for Great Falls saw a combined 11 penalties resulting in 22 minutes of penalty time spent in the sin bin. Each squad took advantage and scored on one of their power play chances.
Goaltender Trever Mellen finished his season with the Americans by obtaining 53 saves. Mellen had a record of 21-8-1-1 including the playoffs and had a team-high of 1,089 saves this season.
Sheridan’s Christian Wong-Ramos recorded 37 saves and is record now stands at 14-0 since coming over from the NA3HL’s Texas RoadRunners in a trade in February 2021.
Great Falls ends their 2020-21 season with a 30-13-3-0 overall record (27-11-2-0 regular season record and a 3-2-1 playoff record).
Meanwhile, Sheridan (43-2-0-0 overall record) will advance to the 2021 NA3HL Fraser Cup (National) Tournament held at the St. Peters Rec Plex in St. Peters, Missouri on April 15-19, 2021.
Qualifiers for the 2021 Fraser Cup Tournament include the #1 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (Frontier Division), #2 Rochester (MN) Grizzlies (Central Division), #3 Texas Brahmas (South Division) #4 Northeast (MA) Generals (East Division), #5 Oklahoma City Blazers (South Division) and the #6 North Iowa Bulls (West Division). North Iowa is the sixth team (wild card) and they had the highest winning percentage to lose in the division finals. The round robin tournament features each of the five divisional winning teams plus a wild card team playing two games (April 15-17) each followed by two semi-final games (April 18) and ending with the championship contest on April 19. All games are played at the St. Peters Rec Plex in St. Peters, Missouri.
The Fraser Cup will also coincide with this year’s Top Prospects Tournament that will take place on Sunday and Monday (April 18-19). Schedules and rosters have not been announced by the league yet for the Top Prospects Tournament. Please click here for more information about the playoff format, Top Prospects Tourney, and the upcoming NA3HL Draft on April 28th.
To view the 2021 Playoff schedules for the 2021 Fraser Cup Championship tournament and the Top Prospects Tournament being played in Missouri, please click here. HockeyTV provides the full coverage of playoff action.
Additional Media Coverage: April 14, 2021: 560AM-KMON: Weekly Radio Interview by KMON’s Randy Bogden with Great Falls Americans Head Coach Greg Sears every Friday morning. Click here to listen to the full interviews.
Additional Media Coverage: April 11, 2021: Sheridan Press (Newspaper): NA3HL Sheridan Hawks earn Frontier Division Champions title
Additional Media Coverage: April 11, 2021: 406 MT Sports: Sheridan eliminates Great Falls Americans from NA3HL playoffs, advances to Nationals
Additonal Media Coverage: April 10, 2021: Game 3 Highlights: Great Falls vs. Sheridan (4-10-21)