By Kevin Scott
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BLAINE, Minn., December 19, 2022 — The Great Falls Americans (12-14-1-0, 25 pts.) were looking to go 2-0 on Monday afternoon at the 2022 NA3HL Showcase Tournament that had many college and professional scouts in attendance after opening the first day of the prestigious tournament on Sunday night with a 3-2 win over the Wausau (WI) Cyclones (game story).
On the second day at the Minnesota tournament, Great Falls challenged the New Ulm Steel (9-14-3-1), a team from New Ulm, Minnesota who ran away with a 10-0 victory over the Mid Cities (TX) Jr. Stars on Sunday. The West Division team is about 96 miles from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Steel sit in fifth place in NA3HL West Division with a record of 9-14-3-1 and are coached by Alex North and assisted by Tommy Adams. In Sunday’s action at the Showcase Tourney, the Steel overwhelmed the Mid Cities (TX) Jr. Stars, 10-0 with six of those goals coming in the third period (box score). The Junior Stars have struggled this season and own the worst record in the NA3HL (1-28-0-0) in the eight-team South Division.
The Showcase Tournament offers many major college and junior hockey scouts to come watch what the NA3HL has to offer (talent-wise) at the three-day tournament that began on Sunday and will run through Tuesday (December 20). Each of the 34 teams in the NA3HL plays three games in three days against teams in the other divisions with the games counting in the overall standings. The matchups pair up evenly matched teams against a team from another division (cross-division) based on current standings as of December 1st and is meant to have balanced competition. This tournament (except for the playoffs in March) are the only chances each team gets to play against the competition in the other divisions.
Gus Cantwell scored once and assisted on a scoring play to lead the New Ulm (MN) Steel to a 2-0 shutout win over the Great Falls Americans from the NA3HL’s Frontier Division during the second day of competition at the 2022 NA3HL Showcase Tournament junior hockey tournament at NSC Super Rink in Blaine, Minnesota on Monday afternoon.
New Ulm has outscored their opponents (Mid Cities Jr. Stars and Great Falls Americans), 12-0 in this tournament after the second day.
The first score of the contest came 17 minutes into the second period after both teams failed to gather any goals in the opening period. Gus Cantwell, one of many players hailing from Minnesota, found the back of the goal for his 15th successful score of the season. Nicholas O’Brien and Landen Schwantes made the assists while the Steel were on the penalty kill. New Ulm held a 26-15 advantage in the shots-on-goal category after forty minutes.
Great Falls’ offense was held to just four shots in the third period and the Steel scored on one of their 11 shots near the end of the third. The second score for the Minnesota team came from Vladislav Ostapenko with assistance from Gus Cantwell and Blake Biermaier with 1:57 remaining in the contest.
When the final buzzer came on, New Ulm nearly doubled the shots taken by Great Falls (37-19).
Both squads committed four minor penalties with eight minutes spent away from the ice. The Steel’s first period score came on the only power play that occurred between these two opponents.
New Ulm denied a tenth win by Great Falls goalie Josh Koziol on Monday. Koziol, in his first season with Great Falls, blocked 35 shots while allowing two goals. He is now 1-1 at the tournament and has an overall record of 9-11-0-0. Nolan Lacosse, a native of Stillwater, Minnesota, was perfect by redirecting all 19 Great Falls Americans shots. His third win (3-8-1-1) came in his first appearance at the Showcase tournament.
FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE AT NA3HL SHOWCASE: Here are the following daily game recaps from the Frontier Division teams during Day 2 action (Monday) at the 2022 NA3HL Showcase.
The Butte Cobras (14-12-1-0, 4th in Frontier) fell behind the 5-1 after two periods and found themselves on the losing end, 6-2 to the Milwaukee Power, who are in fourth place in the Central Division with a 15-10-2-1 record. Carter Large and Jonathan O’Brien scored the two goals for Butte. Patrick Toomey added two scores for Milwaukee in the win. Brett Holmer picked up the win in the net for the Power by finishing with 56 saves. Braylon Rogers and Nikolai Wallery split time in the net for the Cobras and combined for 46 saves as the Cobras are now 1-1 in the tournament (box score).
A night after the Sheridan (WY) Hawks (17-10-1-0, 3rd in Frontier) displaced the West Division’s Mason City (IA) Toros, 6-4, the Hawks scored two goals in the second and third periods to down the Long Beach Sharks (12-11-2-1, 4th in East Division), 4-2 behind the solid effort of Makhai Sparks, who scored a hat trick (3 goals) and had one assist. Jack Fitzpatrick of the Sharks recorded one goal and one assist. Patric Loeffler got his turn in the net and contributed 22 saves for the 2-0-0-0 Hawks. Ryo Murakami swatted away 29 of the 32 shots for Long Beach (box score).
Tyler Bloom registered two goals and goaltender Marek Andres stopped all 17 shots as the Helena Bighorns (19-7-1-1), ranked second in the Frontier Division, captured their first victory at the Showcase tournament with a 3-0 shutout over the Texas Brahmas (17-8-1-0, 3rd in South Division) (box score).
One night removed from a two-goal performance in an 11-2 win over the Bay State (MA) Bobcats, Bodie Shepardson scored a hat trick (3 goals) all coming in the third frame in a 6-2 Bozeman Ice Dogs (10-17-0-1, 6th in Frontier) win against the Mid Cities (TX) Jr. Stars (1-28-0-0, 8th in South Division) on Monday. Andrew Kolka and Michael Kennedy each had one goal and one assist for the Jr. Stars. Axel Rosenlund made 12 saves for the winning team. In a losing effort, Aaron Palos ended the game with 59 saves for Mid Cities (box score).
Austin Ice Bats Jack Hanson scored five points (2 goals, 3 assists) to lead the charge for the Ice Bats (8-23-1-0, 7th in South Division) 6-1 win over the Badlands (SD) Sabres (7-17-2-2, 8th in Frontier). Peyton Wilson scored the first goal of the game five minutes into the first period before the Sabres defense allowed six unanswered goals over the next three periods. Zach Broxterman compiled 54 saves for Badlands while his counterpart from Austin, Bryson Frazee accounted for 45 (box score).
The Rochester (MN) Grizzlies showed why they are the leaders of the Central Division with a record of 21-6-0-1. Spencer Klotz led Rochester with a pair of goals and one assist in a 6-1 win over the top-ranked team in the Frontier Division, the Gillette (WY) Wild (22-3-1-2, 1st in Frontier). Jace Johnson scored 30 seconds into the third period for the lone tally for the Wild. Rochester’s Lucas Henderson stopped 18 shots while Cole Wheaton of Gillette allowed six goals but had 22 saves (box score). Gillette is now 0-1-1-0 at the Showcase tournament.
The Minnesota Loons (9-18-0-1, 6th in West Division) led the Yellowstone (WY) Quake (8-16-3-1, 7th in Frontier) 3-1 before the second intermission and hung on to defeat the Quake, 3-2. Jamison Allen, Kyler Couture, and Landon Thiessen all lit up the lamp for the Loons. Blake Mitchell and Teagan Scheurer made the goals for Yellowstone. Matthew Ryynanen was the winning goalie with 28 saves while Edvin Falkenstrom suffered another loss but not before gathering 43 saves (box score).
The Helena Bighorns, Sheridan (WY) Hawks and the Bozeman Ice Dogs all won on Monday while the other five Frontier Division squads fell short (Butte Cobras, Great Falls Americans, Badlands (SD) Sabres, Gillette (WY) Wild and the Yellowstone (WY) Quake. On Sunday, the Frontier Division went 4-3-1-0.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans will be designated as the visiting team when they play the El Paso (TX) Rhinos in the final day of competition at the 2022 NA3HL Showcase Tournament on Tuesday, December 20th at 11:00AM (MST) from the National Sports Center (NSC) Super Rink. The Rhinos are in fourth place in the NA3HL’s South Division with a record of 16-11-0-2. El Paso fell to the Willmar (MN) WarHawks,10-1 in Sunday’s tournament opener (box score) and defeated the East Division’s, Danbury (CT) Jr. Hat Tricks, 3-2 (box score). HockeyTV broadcasts every game live from the Showcase tournament.
The Americans are looking for their second win in three days on Tuesday if they can find a way to outscore the El Paso Rhinos in the tournament finale.
Click here to see the NA3HL’s official Showcase schedule press release.
Story Courtesy: North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL): Competition remains high on Day 2 of NA3HL Showcase (December 19, 2022)