By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., January 11, 2019 — The Great Falls Americans (27-7-0-1) have won all four contests they have played against the Butte Cobras (4-25-2-0), who are playing in their first season as a member of the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). Great Falls has won by wide margins including a 14-4 romp on December 29th in Butte, Montana.
Great Falls played last weekend (January 4-5) on the road against the Gillette Wild and came away with two more wins. The visiting team allowed one goal in each contest (Friday’s 4-1 win and Saturday 6-1 victory). Meanwhile, Butte hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve (December 31st) when the top-ranked Helena Bighorns earned a 3-0 shutout win. The Cobras, sitting two points ahead of the Yellowstone Quake, are in sixth place in the seven-team Frontier Division and coming into the game, Great Falls was tied for first place with 53 points with the Helena Bighorns (26-5-1-0).
Payton McSharry, Jack Olson and Cody Dearing each scored two goals to deliver an 8-0 shutout victory over the visiting Butte Cobras during Friday night’s NA3HL hockey action at the Great Falls Ice Plex. The 1,156 spectators watched the host team score five second period goals to gain the top seed in the Frontier Division. The Helena Bighorns had been leading the pack in the Division for most of the season, but the Missoula Junior Bruins defeated them 8-3 on Friday night.
The Americans rattled off two goals during the opening twenty minutes of action. Forwards Cody Dearing and Payton McSharry both put the puck between the pipes. Dearing’s score came with helpers from Payton McSharry and Hendrik Robel 12:20 into the contest. McSharry increased the lead for Great Falls (2-0) with 4:10 on the clock. Cody Dearing and Jens Juliussen offered assistance on McSharry’s 35th goal of the season. The Americans kept the puck near the Cobras goal most of the period as they registered 31 shot attempts and limited Butte to six.
The home team wasted no time (34 seconds to be exact) picking up their third goal. Payton McSharry gathered his second score of the night as Jens Juliussen and Hendrik Robel assisted. The Americans
went on a scoring frenzy as they added three more goals in a one-minute span. Minnesota native Jack Olson scored twice followed by Cody Dearing’s second goal to give Great Falls a commanding 6-0 advantage. Olson’s goals went unassisted while Dearing’s goal was set up by Hendrik Robel (3rd assist of game) and Jens Juliussen’s second assist. Before the second intermission, Jens Juliussen scored the fifth goal of the period (7th overall) with his successful slapshot coming with eight seconds remaining on the power play. Germany’s Hendrik Robel produced his fourth assist of the night while Lindros Beard chipped in his first.
Seven minutes into the final stanza, Nate Simpson found Ben Rinckey for the eighth consecutive goal for coach Greg Sears’ squad. The goal turned out to be the final tally of the night.
The Cobras offense couldn’t get many shots off and finished with 14. Great Falls registered 41 of their game-high 72 in the final forty minutes.
The American scored the only power play (of six attempts) goal of the contest. Jens Juliussen’s goal in the final seconds of the middle period came when the Cobras were down a man due to a penalty. Butte squandered their four chances.
The game saw little stoppage with each team committing three penalties resulting in six minutes of time in the sin bin.
Drew Scites remained perfect in the net for Great Falls. The 6’0” Minnesota native stopped all eleven shots total in the first two periods. Backup Cam McIntosh came into the game in the third period, but no shots came his way in eleven minutes of action. Utah resident Karl Zodda lost for the eleventh time this season as the Great Falls offense lit up the lamp for eight goals.
NEXT CONTEST: The Great Falls Americans head to Butte, Montana to face the Cobras on Saturday, January 12th from the Butte Community Ice Center starting at 7:30PM. Great Falls will return for a pair of home games next Friday (January 18th) against the top-ranked Helena Bighorns followed by a Saturday performance against the Missoula Jr. Bruins. Both contests start from the Great Falls Ice Plex at 7:30PM.
Additional Media Coverage: January 11, 2019: MTN Sports (KRTV): Great Falls Americans shutout Butte Cobras