Photo: Courtesy of Laura Richesin
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 2, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (12-2-1-0) and the Gillette (WY) Wild (10-5-0-0) have met three times this season with all three previous contests taking place in Montana.
The Americans have claimed two victories in three contests including a 4-1 come-from-behind victory on Friday evening at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The Americans trailed 1-0 for the first 17 minutes of the opening period before they reeled off four straight goals including two in the final three minutes before the first intermission.
Great Falls was trying to earn the two-game weekend sweep over Gillette and win their six-consecutive game since a 4-3 overtime loss to the Helena Bighorns back on October 12th.
Tonight’s game was one of several weekly FREE streaming games provided by HockeyTV, the official streaming provider of the North American 3 Hockey League, as part of their “Game of the Week” series.
Hendrik Robel chipped in two goals, Kellen Harris added a goal and dished out two assists, and goaltender Viktor Wennberg picked up his ninth victory in the net as the Great Falls Americans completed their weekend homestand sweep against the Gillette Wild by posting a 6-1 win in front of one of their largest crowds of the season (1,095) at the Great Falls Ice Plex on Saturday evening.
Gillette and Great Falls both found a way to find the back of the net during first period action. It took nearly 16 minutes for a successful scoring opportunity but the Wild struck first with team leading scorer, Declan Young picking up his 17th goal on the unassisted play. Americans defenseman Hendrik Robel was at the right spot at the right time as he secured his seventh goal off the stick of Jake Hayes with 26 seconds remaining with the Wild down a man (penalty) to even up the hard-fought first stanza. Hayes accumulated his eighth assist. Brody Boyce accrued one of his three assists on the night. Great Falls and Gillette combined for 22 shots.
The home team outscored the visitors from Wyoming 2-0 during the middle period. Kellen Harris and Jake Hayes each added a goal to their stats. Braydon Rachow and Luke Richesin gathered the assists on Harris’ score with 11:45 on the clock and Kellen Harris along with Brody Boyce set up Jake Hayes’ power play scoring opportunity to round out the scoring at the 2:11 mark of the period. The Americans offense sent 19 shots towards Gillette goaltender Anthony Seykora. The Wild finished with 7 shots before the second intermission.
The offensive attack by the Americans continued into the third frame. The score remained 3-1 coming out of the second intermission. Three goals were awarded to the home team in the final 3:25 of the contest to ensure a 12th victory for the Montana junior hockey franchise. Hendrik Robel added his second of the game (8th overall) while Blake Nerney (2nd overall) and Tommy Janes tallied his first goal with the Americans before time expired. Levi Mese and Kellen Harris provided the assists on Robel’s score and Dylan Olson and Brody Boyce helped Nerney convert the empty net goal with under two minutes remaining. The Americans sixth point came with 37 seconds left with Logan Rachow and Harley Nyhuis credited with the assists on Janes’ score.
For most of the sixty-minute affair, the puck was handled by the Americans offense as they produced double-digit shots-on-goal in each of the three periods to end with 49. Gillette’s offense had a tough time with the defensive effort put on by the Americans. The Wild took 16 shots total after two periods and 25 for the game.
The Americans turned half of their power play chances into scores (2-for-4). The Wild went 0-for-2 when the host team was in the penalty box. Five penalties were committed by each team. Great Falls is the least penalized team in the Frontier Division with 244 minutes spent off the ice.
In a similar performance in Friday’s win, Viktor Wennberg allowed just one first period score but never allowed any pucks get away from him. Wennberg is second in the entire league with a goals-against-average (GAA) of 1.47 and is the only goaltender in the NA3HL with nine wins on his resume. South Dakota native Anthony Seykora is now 5-1-0-0 on the season. He amassed 43 saves in his first loss with the Wild.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans have been at home (11 games) for most of their 15 regular season contests this season. Great Falls has made two separate trips to Butte, Montana to play the Cobras and they completed a weekend trip to Sheridan, Wyoming to face the newest member of the Frontier Division, the Sheridan Hawks earlier in the season. They will take the 90-mile trip to Helena, Montana to challenge the Bighorns on Friday and Saturday (November 8-9th) with both games at the Helena Ice Arena set to begin at 7:05PM. Tune in to HockeyTV to view the live stream of both rivalry games.
Additional Media Coverage: November 4, 2019: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans continue hot streak: The Great Falls Americans come off of another weekend sweep