By Kevin Scott
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BLAINE, Minn., December 17, 2018 — The Great Falls Americans (21-6-0-1) were hoping to bounce back into the win column on Monday after getting blanked by the NA3HL’s South Division’s Louisiana Drillers on Sunday afternoon as the 2018 NA3HL Showcase hockey tournament opened its three-day tournament.
Great Falls’ opponent for the second day was the Skylands Kings, a NA3HL squad from Stockholm, New Jersey, who play in the Northeast Division. The Kings are 9-14-1-1 and sit in third place in the four-team Northeast division behind the Binghamton Jr. Senators (23-4-0-0) and the Oswego Stampede, who are in second place with a record of 12-12-1-1. Skylands, coached by Adam Mitchell, also went down with a loss to Great Falls’ rival in the Frontier Division, the Bozeman Ice Dogs, 5-1 to begin the tournament on Sunday.
Skylands, who have loss five in a row dating back to November 17th when they defeated the Long Beach Sharks, 5-1, are led by two forwards who each have 34 points. Dylan Saccone, a Florida native has accumulated 18 goals and 16 assists while teammate Steven Ford from Dallas Texas, has scored ten goals and dished out 24 assists for the New Jersey team.
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. Today’s game against the Skylands Kings will count as a home game while tomorrow’s tournament finale against the Northeast Generals (Massachusetts) will be a road game.
Forward George Nuutinen scored the deciding goal in the shootout, and the Great Falls Americans bounced back after Sunday’s setback to the Louisiana Drillers with a thrilling 2-1 victory over the New Jersey-based Skylands Kings during the second day of the NA3HL Showcase Tournament in Blaine, Minnesota on Monday afternoon.
Great Falls out-shot Skylands 13-3 during the opening stanza at the NA3HL Showcase on Monday afternoon. Although there were 16 shots taken, neither team was able to get the biscuit in the basket for any scores. Early on, Skylands had one penalty called on them for tripping but Great Falls failed to capitalize on the power play despite the Kings being down a man.
The second period was mostly quiet by both teams on offense. The first score came three minutes into the stanza when Brandon Peterson scooted in his second goal of the season to break the scoreless tie for Great Falls. After being shutout during Sunday’s loss, Great Falls scored their first goal of the tournament. The Oak Creek, Wisconsin product scored his first goal on December 1st in the Americans 7-3 victory over the Missoula Jr. Bruins. Great Falls added an additional 11 shots to give them 24 after two periods of play. Skylands managed 10 in the second for a total of 13.
Skylands Kings defenseman Trevor Christopher evened up the contest at 1-1 with an assist by Zach Burkhart midway through the final period of regulation. The power play goal ensured that the Kings wouldn’t be shutout. The contest between these two NA3HL teams couldn’t generate any more goals in the period so a five-minute overtime was needed.
Great Falls and Skylands skated around and tried to light up the lamp in the extra period but came up empty.
Great Falls’ George Nuutinen was the only player to score during the one-on-one shootout against Skylands goaltender Kavan Johnson. Seven players from each team participated in the shootout. Jens Juliussen, Nick Ramstad, Cody Dearing, Lindros Beard, Hendrik Robel, and Ben Rinckey all took unsuccessful shots for the host team.
There wasn’t much game stoppage as Great Falls committed three of the five minor penalties in the second and third periods.
Great Falls went 0-for-2 on the power play while the visiting Kings had their only goal of the game come while the Americans were in the penalty box.
Viktor Wennberg had another outstanding game in the net for the Americans. The Sweden netminder swatted away 17 of the 18 shots created by the Kings. Kavan Johnson took the loss for the New Jersey team and completed the game by registering 40 saves.
How did the rest of the Frontier Division teams fare during Day 2 of the tournament?
The Bozeman Ice Dogs fell to the Oswego Stampede (New York), 3-2 in one of the earlier games this morning. The Yellowstone Quake also suffered a 4-2 setback against the Breezy Point North Stars (Minnesota) and the Alexandria Blizzard (Minnesota) took down the Missoula Jr. Bruins, 4-1. The Willmar WarHawks (Minnesota) needed overtime to defeat the Butte Cobras, 2-1. Meanwhile, the Helena Bighorns toppled the Binghamton Jr. Senators (New York), 5-3. The Wisconsin Whalers scored four goals to defeat the Gillette Wild, 4-2. To see the stats from the Monday contests, please click here.
For more information about the tournament, please click here or see the league press release by clicking here. All regular season games, the NA3HL Showcase Tournament (December), the Top Prospects Tournament (February) and the playoffs coming in March are available for streaming via a subscription at HockeyTV.
NEXT CONTEST: The NA3HL Showcase tournament comes to end on Tuesday, December 18th when the Great Falls Americans play against the Northeast Generals, a NA3HL team from the Coastal Division, who call Attleboro, Massachusetts home.
NOTE: The home ice for the Northeast Generals is the New England Sports Village, which will host the 2019 Top Prospects Tournament from February 18th and 19th, 2019. For more information about the Top Prospects Tournament, please click here.