By Kevin Scott
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BLAINE, Minn., December 17, 2017 — The 2017-18 Great Falls Americans (17-6-2-0) have had sixteen victories this season along with six losses and two losses in overtime before they opened the 2017 NA3HL Showcase hockey tournament the Schwan Super Rink in Minnesota.
Great Falls were listed as visitors on the scoreboard as Friday afternoon’s action got underway with the Americans taking a team from Texas, the Mid Cities Jr. Stars (14-8-1-0).
The Mid Cities Jr. Stars based out of Euless, Texas, had their six-game winning streak snapped on December 8th with a 4-3 setback to the Texas Brahmas.
The Americans, coached by Jeff Heimel, were on a three-game win streak before the Helena Bighorns defeated them 5-3 on December 8th.
The prestigious three-day tournament includes many college and junior scouts that are in attendance to watch the league’s best talent. The three games that each team appears in does count toward their season standings as Great Falls is the home team for the final two contests on Monday and Tuesday.
Michael Fary had two back-to-back first period goals to give the Great Falls Americans a 5-1 opening day tournament victory over the Mid Cities Jr. Stars at the 2017 NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota on Sunday afternoon.
Great Falls returned to their winning ways with their 17th victory in 25 contests. The Stars lost their second straight contest after winning six straight games. Great Falls out-shot their Texas opponents (8-6) after the first stanza.
The Americans were led by Michael Fary’s two goals that took place midway through the opening period. Nick Ramstad, Tanner Rath, and Kody Thomas picked up the assists. Matthew Taylor of the Stars cut the deficit to 2-1 with his first goal of the season thanks to teammates Conor Simpson and Remy Kesling before the first period concluded.
Great Falls and Mid Cities almost went scoreless during the middle period but with 438 seconds remaining, the Americans took a commanding 3-1 advantage with a Michael Houlihan score over Stars goaltender Jake Ange. Nate Simpson and Michael Fary assisted on the scoring play picking up 6 and 13 assists, respectively. Great Falls out-shot the Texas NA3HL team 16-12 after two periods.
Jens Juliussen and Garrett Peters tallied the final two goals in the third for Great Falls. Ben Rinckey and Trent Cowden provided the assists.
Both squads took 25 shots and secured five goals while the Stars had a lone goal as they attempted 19 shots.
There were no penalties issued during the first two periods. Great Falls and Mid Cities each committed one infraction in the third period.
Bryan Sharp, the winning goalie from Great Falls, ended the afternoon with 18 saves and allowed one goal in the first period. Mid Cities goaltender Jake Ange recorded 20 saves despite the loss.
In other action for the rest of the Frontier squads, the Long Beach Sharks disposed of the Bozeman Ice Dogs 5-2, the New Ulm Steel scored two more goals than the Yellowstone Quake (4-2), the Alexandria Blizzard drilled the Missoula Jr. Bruins 12-1. The only other Frontier team that came out on top was the Helena Bighorns topping the Evansville Jr. Thunderbolts, 4-3.
NEXT CONTEST: During the second day of the three-day Showcase Tournament, Great Falls will battle with Wisconsin-based La Crosse Freeze at 3:30PM (MST) at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota on Monday afternoon. They will conclude the tournament by facing the Oswego (NY) Stampede on Tuesday, December 19th at 9:30AM (MST).
For more information about the tournament that will feature many college and junior scouts in attendance, please click here.
Additional Media Coverage: December 18, 2017: Great Falls Tribune: Americans down Texas team at NA3HL Showcase
Story Courtesy: North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL): Day 1 of NA3HL Showcase thrills big crowds and scouts (December 17, 2017)