By Kevin Scott
GENEVA, IL., March 21, 2015 — The #3 ranked Great Falls Americans (0-3) battled the #2 North Iowa Bulls (3-0) on the third day of the four-day NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament in Geneva, Illinois.
After allowing one goal by the Great Falls Americans, the North Iowa Bulls scored six consecutive goals to pull away from Great Falls, 6-1 on the final game of the prestigious tourney on Saturday night in Illinois. Great Falls struggled to find the back of the net and scored just once during each of their three round-robin games.
North Iowa (44-10-1), the two-time defending NA3HL Silver Cup champions in the NA3HL’s West Division, are heading back to the Silver Cup championship game as they are the only team that had a perfect 3-0 record at the Silver Cup Tournament this season. They will face West Division foe, Granite City Lumberjacks (33-14-9) on Sunday afternoon (March 22) at 1:00PM (MST). Both teams qualify for the 2014 USA Hockey Tier III Junior National Championships next week in Simsbury, Connecticut.
Lucas Lomax, who was named to the All-NA3HL Third Team and a member of the All-Frontier Division team this season, added the Americans only goal in the first period to put them on top (1-0). Josh Larson assisted on the play with 16:54 on the clock. North Iowa’s Joe Burgmeier scored twice in the opening period to give them a 2-1 advantage before the first intermission. The Bulls assists came from Brett Gravelle, Tommy Heinzman, and Sam Naegele.
Three different players would get in the scoring column for North Idaho in the middle period as Conor Durgan, Jake Johnson, and Brett Gravelle each provided successful scoring opportunities. Durgan’s score came via Robert Click and Sam Naegele, who also had a first period assist as well. Joe Kleven and Evan Mills helped North Iowa’s Jake Johnson get the puck past Americans goaltender Jordan Moran for the score. Mills also assisted on Brett Gravelle’s final goal of the period to stretch the lead for the Bulls to 5-1.
North Iowa’s Dylan Zins would punch in the final goal of the game with 1:40 into the third period thanks to Sam Naegele, who came away with his third assist of the evening.
Great Falls, who ended their season with a loss, only saw one of their 21 shots converted into points. The Bulls secured six goals in their 53 shots that they took against the Americans defense.
Each team contributed two minor infractions for four minutes of penalty time before the second intermission with neither NA3HL club getting any penalties in the final period.
Chris Amsden got the start for the Bulls and the win with his 14 saves before being replaced by David Johnson, who stopped all six shots he faced. Meanwhile, Americans goaltender Jordan Moran played all 60 minutes and chipped in 47 saves.
In the other pool play action from the Silver Cup, #6 seed and Wild Card entry, Granite City rolled over the Metro Jets 6-1 in the opening game of the day while the top-seeded Nashville Jr. Predators capped a 3-0 record with a 3-1 victory over the #5 West Michigan Wolves in the afternoon tilt.
The Great Falls Americans ended their 2014-15 season with a 38-13-3 record including a 20-5-1 record at home at the Great Falls Ice Plex. They went 4-3 in the playoffs including two wins apiece over the Billings Bulls and Helena Bighorns before falling in the three Silver Cup contests.
|Period 1||Period 2||Period 3||Final|
First Period – 1, Great Falls, Lucas Lomax (Josh Larson), 3:06. 2, North Iowa, Joe Burgmeier (Brett Gravelle), 10:26. 3, North Iowa, Joe Burgmeier (Tommy Heinzman, Sam Naegele), 13:56.
Second Period –4, North Iowa, Conor Durgan (Sam Naegele, Robert Click), 7:20. 5, North Iowa, Jake Johnson (power play) (Evan Mills, Joe Kleven), 16:45. 6, North Iowa, Brett Gravelle (Evan Mills), 19:31.
Third Period – 7, North Iowa, Dylan Zins (Sam Naegele), 1:40.
Shots on Goal – Great Falls 21, North Iowa 53.
Power-play Opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-2, North Iowa 1-for-2.
Attendance – Not Announced
Additional Media Coverage: March 22, 2015: Great Falls Tribune: Americans’ season ends with loss at Silver Cup