By Kevin Scott
ROMEOVILLE, IL., April 2, 2016 — During the first three days of pool play at the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament in Romeoville, Illinois, the Great Falls Americans have fared well. They won two out of their three games and advanced to the four-team semifinal round on Saturday afternoon.
They picked up wins against Alabama-based Point Mallard (2-1 on Wednesday) and against Frontier Division opponent, the Yellowstone Quake where they easily defeated the Wyoming squad, 8-1 on Friday. Their only loss came to the top-ranked North Iowa Bulls (4-1) during their second game on Thursday evening.
On Saturday, the #5 Americans played against second-ranked Metro Jets, a junior hockey team from Fraser, Michigan, in the second game of the NA3HL Semifinals for a chance to play in the title game on Sunday afternoon.
Metro, a team from the NA3HL’s East Division, earned a 40-5-2 record during the regular season. They have shown why they are in the top two in the league as they have won all seven of their playoff contests. In the NA3HL East Divisional Semifinals, they won their best-of-three series against the Wooster (Ohio) Oilers in two games outscoring them 22-5 including a 12-0 win in the second game to clinch the series. The West Michigan Wolves were their opponent in the East Divisional Finals where they won two straight games. At this week’s Silver Cup Tournament, the Jets shutout the Texas Jr. Brahmas, 7-0, followed by wins against the Twin City (MN) Steel, 2-1 and the St. Louis Jr. Blues (7-3). They were the only undefeated team still standing after three days of competition.
Metro’s leaders include Kevin Shand, who accumulated 41 regular season goals and 11 more in the playoffs and Michael Tratar continues to lead the team in assists with 61. Goaltender Kameron Limburg has a 34-3-1 record and has 904 saves for the season.
The Americans leading scorer this season is Ricards Bernhards with 30 goals while the assist leader is Tanner Congdon with 48. Jake Stephan leads all Great Falls goalies with 847 saves and a 21-6-1 record.
The Great Falls Americans gave it all they had but came up short against the Metro Jets in a 5-4 setback in the NA3HL Silver Cup Semifinals on Saturday in Romeoville, Illinois. After having a two-goal lead early in the contest, Great Falls was unable to stop the Jets in the final period.
Despite both offenses combining for 16 shots-on-goal, neither team was able register any scoring drives during the opening period of the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.
Great Falls built a 2-0 lead during the first five minutes of the middle period. Tanner Congdon and Miles Giorgione each got the puck into the net over Metro goaltender Kameron Limburg. Josh Larson and Kyle Johnson tallied the assists on the score by Congdon and Brendan Jester and Stevan Goran helped feed Giorgione for the successful power play score. The offense came alive for the Jets midway through the period. Jacob Gleason, Robert Flannery, and Cam Schwartz all found ways to get points on the scoreboard for coach Justin Quenneville’s squad. Five players picked up assists for the Michigan-based team including Jacob Drinkard, Devin Kelly, Pearce Vance, Chase Sereno and Gleason. Great Falls trailed 3-2 before the final period.
Stevan Goran’s dish to forward Tegan Harrington early in the third period tied the contest for the second time (3-3). Metro regained the lead six minutes later at the 9:12 mark as Matt Dempsey shot attempt over Americans goalie Jake Stephan was successful. Graham Day chipped in his first assist while teammate Jacob Drinkard added his second. In an effort to get another man on the ice, Great Falls pulled goalie Jake Stephan during the final moments. Metro’s Mathias Tellstrom took advantage of the empty net and racked up his first goal and the team’s fifth point with 53 seconds left in regulation. Kevin Shand and Michael Tratar assisted. Great Falls tried to make a comeback 24 seconds after the Jets scored. Tyler Garcia lit up the lamp for the Americans to pull within a point (5-4) as Tegan Harrington contributed his first assist of the game. Metro’s offense held up the remaining seconds and denied a Great Falls comeback.
The Jets offense piled up 36 shots on the Great Falls net-minder Jake Stephan with 26 coming in the first two periods. The Americans took 27 total shots.
Giorgione’s score in the opening period was the only power play that either team would convert. Each team had two chances.
The Americans and Jets each incurred six minutes of penalty time with three minors.
Kameron Limburg played all sixty minutes for the Michigan NA3HL franchise and stopped 23 shots by the Americans offense. Jake Stephan, who picked up his seventh loss of the season for Great Falls, managed to receive 31 saves.
In the earlier semifinal, the top-ranked North Iowa Bulls needed an overtime against the Twin City Steel to defeat the Minnesota team and advance to Sunday’s championship game. Kohei Sato scored once in the second period and provided the game-winning score for the Bulls in the extra period. Brett Gravelle added two assists for North Iowa. Yannick Zehnder led the Twin City charge with two goals.
The #2 Metro Jets will meet the #1 North Iowa Bulls for the NA3HL Silver Cup Tournament championship on Sunday (April 3rd) at Noon (MST).
The Great Falls Americans ended their 2015-16 season with a 40-13-2 record including twenty home wins and six playoff victories.
For more information about the Silver Cup Tournament, please click here.
Additional Media Coverage:
April 3, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans fall in Silver Cup semis, season ends Read Article