By Kevin Scott
|Box Score||Game Sheet||League Scoreboard||Americans Team Statistics|
MISSOULA, Mont., September 7, 2018 — Hockey is back after a six-month offseason that found a coaching change to the Great Falls Americans, who fell to their rivals, the Helena Bighorns last March in two straight games in the 2018 Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals. Americans head coach Jeff Heimel moved on to the college ranks where he will help start up Great Falls’ college hockey team at the University of Providence. Greg Sears replaced him during the off-season as the mentor for the Junior A squad. Sears was a former assistant for the NA3HL’s Yellowstone (WY) Quake.
Nearly a dozen American players return from last year’s campaign including six forwards (Payton McSharry, Nick Ramstad, Jens Juliussen, Ben Rinckey, Matt Larson and Matt Janke) along with 3 defensemen (Brandon Peterson, Trent Cowden and Great Falls native Braxton Lorenz). Goaltenders Drew Scites and Cam Macintosh return in the net for Great Falls.
On Friday evening, the Americans made the trip to Missoula, Montana to face the Junior Bruins at the Glacier Ice Rink.
The Great Falls Americans opened up the 2018-19 season with an impressive 5-0 shutout victory over the Missoula Junior Bruins on Friday night in the Garden City. Four different players successfully picked up goals in the season debut.
Minnesota native Jack Olson scored the first points of the season for Great Falls off a feed from Lindros Beard and Trent Cowden in the first period. Beard’s goal came during the opening 1:41. The remainder of the opening period was quiet with neither team finding the back of the net. Great Falls out-shot Missoula 11-7.
The Americans offense tallied three goals during a seven-minute span midway through the middle period. Forwards Alexi Suchomlin, Matt Janke and Jens Juliussen gave new Americans mentor Greg Sears a 4-0 advantage. Nate Simpson, Levi Mese and Payton McSharry each had one assist while Jack Olson set up two scoring drives. The Bruins failed to get in the scoring column for the second straight period and could not convert either of their power plays after 40 minutes of action.
Jack Olson registered his second goal (fifth team goal for Great Falls) in the final period as he got the puck by Missoula goaltender Evan Williams. The Americans defensive efforts were impressive preventing the home team from accumulating any goals and allowing just 19 shots in the season opener for both squads.
The spectators at the Glacier Ice Rink witnessed just six penalties totaling 12 minutes.
NEXT CONTEST: The Americans remain on the road for a two-game series against the Sears’ former squad, the Yellowstone Quake with game time set for Friday (September 14th) and Saturday (September 15th) at 7:30PM from Riley Arena in Cody, Wyoming. The home opener for the Great Falls Americans will be on Friday, September 21st when the Quake make the trip down to the Great Falls Ice Plex for a 7:30PM showdown.
Additional Media Coverage: September 7, 2018: KPAX (MontanaSports.com, CBS-TV): Great Falls Americans top Missoula Bruins in season opener