By Kevin Scott
ROMEOVILLE, IL., April 1, 2016 —So far during the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament in Illinois, the #5 Great Falls Americans (40-12-2) have won one game (2-1) win over #4 Point Mallard (Alabama) on Wednesday night and a 4-1 setback to the top-ranked North Iowa Bulls on Thursday. Goaltender Jake Stephan accrued 52 total saves during the first two contests for Great Falls.
In the third and final game of pool play on Friday, the Americans faced a familiar opponent in the Yellowstone Quake (37-14-4), who also play in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. During the regular season, the Great Falls squad struggled against the Cody, Wyoming based Quake by winning just three of their eight head-to-head matchups. The Americans finished in second place to Yellowstone during the season. Yellowstone defeated the Gillette Wild 2-1 while Great Falls disposed of the Bozeman Ice Dogs 2-0 in the Divisional Semifinals and advanced to the championship game. Both teams met in the Frontier Divisional Finals where Great Falls earned redemption and swept them 2-0 in the best-of-three series for the automatic berth to the Silver Cup. Yellowstone was awarded the #2 Wild Card spot.
Yellowstone fell twice in the first two days of the tournament with losses to North Iowa (6-2) and a shutout loss to Point Mallard, 3-0.
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 816 saves and 21-5-1 record.
The top performers for coach Ryan Theros’ squad include Max Doner with 31 goals and Matt Runyon leading the way in assists with 38. Lance Knudson is the top goaltender for the Wyoming club with a record of 18-9-2 and 891 saves.
Wade Wylie scored a hat trick and Stevan Goran netted two goals to help the #5 Great Falls Americans rout the #8 (2nd Wild Card) Yellowstone Quake, 8-1 on Friday night to advance to the Silver Cup Semifinals on Saturday afternoon. During the final day of pool play at the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Tournament in Illinois, Yellowstone scored first but the Americans scored eight unanswered points including four in the final stanza.
Jake Dickison added his 13th goal of the season and second in the playoffs to give Yellowstone the 1-0 advantage with 7:04 remaining in the first period. Defenseman Hunter Ruschmeyer tacked on the assist. Great Falls mounted a comeback and the game-tying score was produced by Stevan Goran with help from Wade Wylie shortly after the points by Yellowstone. Wade Wylie, the Lake Stevens, Washington native, racked up his second assist in the game with 20 seconds before the first intermission when he found Tyler Garcia for the go-ahead power play score to give the Americans the lead at 2-1.
The Americans didn’t waste much time when they came back for the second frame. Austin Krantz capitalized on the Americans second power play when he scored on the unassisted scoring drive to increase the lead for the Montana team to 3-1. Great Falls would find the back of the net once more before the end of the middle period. After having two assists in the opening stanza, it was Wade Wylie who was able to get the puck in the net for the score over Yellowstone goaltender Lance Knudson. Tyler Garcia assisted on the third straight successful power play scoring opportunity for the Americans. Great Falls took 20 shots and limited the Wyoming team to 12 after the first forty minutes.
Great Falls continued their offensive attack in the final period of action in pool play and outscored Yellowstone 4-0. Wade Wylie provided his second goal on the night 4:43 into the period. Forward Tegan Harrington helped set up the fifth point for the home team. Josh Larson netted his second goal in the Silver Cup tournament with twelve minutes left on the clock. Tanner Congdon added the assist to give the Americans a five-point advantage. Stevan Goran lit up the lamp for the second time tonight for coach Jeff Heimel’s squad. Tegan Harrington and Tyler Garcia gathered their second assists of the game. Wade Wylie scored a hat trick as his third score sealed the win for the Americans off a pass from Josh Larson.
Great Falls accumulated eight goals in 38 shot attempts with 18 coming in the final period. Yellowstone managed just one goal while taking 21 shots.
Great Falls utilized the power play well converting four of their eight goals with Yellowstone in the penalty box. Wade Wylie had two successful power plays while Tyler Garcia and Austin Krantz each had one. The Quake failed to score on their five chances.
The Americans spent 28 minutes in the penalty box resulting in 10 penalties while the Quake played short-handed throughout the contest and totaled nine penalties for 18 minutes.
Five players led the Americans to victory including Wade Wylie (three goals, 1 assist), Stevan Goran (2 goals), Tyler Garcia and Josh Larson each had 1 goal and 1 assist and Tegan Harrington dished out two assists. Meanwhile, Jake Dickison led Yellowstone with one goal and Hunter Ruschmeyer chipped in one assist.
Goaltender Lauren Massie (17-7-1 record) earned the win in his first playoff appearance of the season by stopping 20 of the 21 shots attempted by the Yellowstone offense. Lance Knudson, playing in his final game of the season, registered 30 saves for the Quake.
The #2 Metro Jets (3-0) defeated the #3 St. Louis Jr. Blues (1-2), 7-3 to earn one of the four spots in the semifinals on Saturday afternoon and the #6 Twin City (MN) Steel’s (1-2) 5-2 victory over #7 Texas Jr. Brahmas (1-2) advanced them to the semifinals. In the nightcap, the fourth-ranked Point Mallard (Alabama) Ducks (2-1) downed the #1 North Iowa Bulls (2-1), 4-3.
NEXT CONTEST: The four teams playing in Saturday’s semifinals include the #1 North Iowa Bulls (#1 Pool A) playing the second place team from Pool B, the #6 Twin City (MN) Steel at 1:00PM (MST) followed by the (#2 Pool A) #5 Great Falls Americans facing the top team in Pool B and the only undefeated team in the tournament, the #2 Metro (MI) Jets at 4:00PM (MST). The two winning teams will square off in the NA3HL Silver Cup championship game on Sunday, April 3rd at 12:00PM (MST) at the Canlan Ice Arena in Romeoville, Illinois. For more information about the Silver Cup Tournament, please click here.
Additional Media Coverage:
April 2, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans crush Quake, move on to semis Read Article