By Kevin Scott
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SHERIDAN, Wyo., October 16, 2021 — The #4 Great Falls Americans (5-3-2-1) know the #8 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (1-11-0-0) this year well as they are the only team the Americans have faced more than twice after six weeks of competition.
After Friday’s convincing 7-2 victory over a Wyoming team that was overhauled in the offseason but still has 12 members from last year’s Frontier Division championship squad on the roster, the Americans were trying for a perfect 4-0-0-0 record against Sheridan on Saturday after starting the season with eleven straight games in six weeks away from the Great Falls Ice Plex (see story).
Palmer, Alaska native Tae Evans scored two goals and dished out two assists as Great Falls led 4-1 after two periods of play to easily outscore the Hawks 3-1 in the final twenty minutes during Friday’s junior hockey game. Will Simpson added 36 saves to his season total of 135 in five appearances.
At the beginning in October, Great Falls won their weekend series by identical scores of 4-2 both nights and were looking for another weekend sweep on Saturday.
Tyler Sunagel scored three goals (hat trick) and Micah Serino and Silas Hughes netted two apiece as the #4 Great Falls Americans routed the #8 Sheridan (WY) Hawks, 10-3 to complete their two-game weekend sweep over their Wyoming rivals on Saturday evening in Sheridan, Wyoming.
The Americans raced out to a 5-1 before the first intermission. Silas Hughes, a newcomer on the roster for Great Falls since coming onto the team on October 5th, had his best period as a member of the Americans during the first period. Hughes, a forward hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, scored two goals and assisted on one scoring play. Tyler Sunagel had one score and two assists; Hunter Maschke scored his sixth goal of the season while Jackson Henningsgard added his third. In addition to Sunagel’s and Hughes’ assists, Jackson Henningsgard (three assists), Tae Evans, Petr Van Voorhis, Noel Rahn and Thomas Dalsin also set up goal score for the fourth-ranked team in the NA3HL’s Frontier Division. The lone score of the stanza for the home team was made by Dakota Kott. Kott’s third goal of the season came early as Teejay Torgrimson, and Aaron Hicks provided the assists. The Montana-Wyoming rivals combined for 30 total shots.
Micah Serino increased Great Falls’ lead to 6-1 with the first of his two scoring drives of the night with assistance from Noel Rahn and Silas Hughes with 12:18 remaining in the second frame. That goal was the only time the puck lit up the lamp for either side. The Hawks took over twice as many shots as Americans (20-9) and accumulated 34 before the second intermission. Great Falls put up 25 shots during the first forty minutes.
After Nick Tigges with a helper from Makhai Sparks 99 seconds into the third frame for the home team, Great Falls scored four more goals that took 14 minutes off the clock. Tyler Sunagel got his hat trick by scoring two goals and Henry Fusco and Micah Serino providing the other two goals. Silas Hughes and Jackson Henningsgard each chipped in another assist to finish with three on the night and AJ Benit dished off an assist on three of the four goals awarded to the Americans. Noel Rahn garnered an assist (second of the night) while Henry Fusco and Hunter Maschke produced one. Great Falls led 10-2 until the final 13 seconds when Ben Lavigne lit up the lamp for the first time this season with Taylor Frerichs and Aaron Hicks assisting on Sheridan’s third goal.
Despite the wide margin of victory for Great Falls, each team contributed 50 shots with the Americans taking half of them in the third period.
Nine combined minor infractions were issued with 18 minutes of off-ice time in Great Falls’ 11th game of the season. The visitors went 1-for-3 on the power play and the host team missed all four of their chances.
Five players for the Americans were instrumental in the fifth win of the season including Tyler Sunagel (3 goals, 2 assists), Silas Hughes (2 goals, 3 assists), Jackson Henningsgard (1 goal, 4 assists), Micah Serino’s two goals and netminder Wyatt Olsonawski (47 saves).
Olsonawski (1-0-0-0), who calls Hallock, Minnesota home, saw action for the first time in a Great Falls uniform and earned his first win by swatting away 47 of the 50 shots in 60 minutes of action.
Meanwhile, Bo Buckley started as the goaltender for the Hawks. He allowed three goals in 14 minutes before being subbed out for Thomas Kuriscak (0-5-0-0), who had 16 saves and allowed five goals in his fifth loss of the season. Buckley came back out in relief of Kuriscak late in the final frame and finished his night with 24 saves after having nine in the first stanza.
NOTE: Great Falls’ next opponent for their home opener on Friday is the Butte Cobras, who sit in the #6 position in the Frontier Division with a 3-6-2-0 record. They fell tonight (October 16) to the Bozeman Ice Dogs, 5-4 (box score) in their lone game of the week and are riding a two-game losing streak. The Cobras, coached by former Great Falls Americans Associate Coach Kirk Golden (2020-21), have wins over the Bozeman Ice Dogs, Sheridan (WY) Hawks, and the newest member of the Frontier Division, the Rapid City, South Dakota based, Badlands Sabres.
NEXT CONTEST: Welcome Home, Americans!!! After spending over a month without making an appearance at the Great Falls Ice Plex, the Americans will finally make their home debut on Friday, October 22nd when they welcome the Butte Cobras. The first home game is slated to start at 7:30PM (MST) with Megan Lewis on the call for the HockeyTV broadcast.