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GF Tribune: Americans fall in Silver Cup semis, season ends

By Steve Schreck, Tribune Sports Writer

April 2, 2016

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Great Falls Americans weren’t satisfied with just a semifinal appearance. They wanted more, a banner and a championship, and Great Falls head coach Jeff Heimel said as much after Friday night’s 8-1 decision against the Yellowstone Quake.

That will have to wait another year.

Despite a 2-0 lead early in the second period, the Americans came up just short Saturday, falling to the Metro (Mich.) Jets 5-4 in a semifinal contest of the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup in Romeoville, Ill.

“There were times with this group when we were struggling early on to build chemistry together,” Heimel said of the season as a whole. “I just can’t believe the way that they came together at the end. Obviously, they wanted to win a league championship, but there’s improvement on last year as well. To get to the final four and have an opportunity to be one game away from playing for the title, that’s a huge step for our program. We’re excited, and we expect to be back there, plus one step further, next year.”

The Jets will play North Iowa for the title Sunday at noon Mountain Time.

Great Falls, which won its second straight Frontier Division playoff title last Friday, concludes the 2015-16 campaign 40-13-2. The Americans went 2-2 this week after going 0-3 in this same event a year ago.

Unlike a majority of the Americans’ games this season, they were outnumbered in the shot column Saturday.

Metro, which improved its record to 4-0 in the tournament, tested Great Falls net minder Jake Stephan 35 times; Great Falls accumulated 27 shots on Metro goaltender Kameron Limburg.

Both teams skated to a scoreless tie through the first period, and Great Falls came out quickly in the second stanza.

First-line forward Tanner Congdon and southpaw defenseman Miles Giorgione each lit the lamp before even five minutes ticked off the clock, and with 15:50 remaining in the second period, Great Falls held a 2-0 advantage.

Josh Larson and Kyle Johnson assisted on Congdon’s goal, while Brendan Jester and Stevan Goran fed Giorgione for his power play marker.

The Jets responded with three goals in the next seven minutes.

A shorthanded conversion started things midway through the period, and the floodgates opened as the Jets found the back of the net twice in a 33-second span soon after that.

“It was just an intense game,” Heimel said. “Metro’s very, very good. They had their backs against the wall, and they came firing right back. We just hung in there. We scored, and then they scored. It was such a good hockey game, back and forth. They are a good hockey team. There’s a reason they’ve only lost five, six games this year. To be there, right down to the wire, that was exciting.”

Outshot 16-10 in the second frame, Great Falls found itself down 3-2 heading into the third.

Tegan Harrington, on an assist from Goran, tied the game at 3-all with 15:02 remaining. But the Jets followed with the next two, including an empty-netter with a minute left as Heimel sent Stephan to the bench for the extra attacker and a 6 on 5 advantage.

Tyler Garcia’s shot with 29 seconds left and Stephan pulled at the other end cut the deficit to 5-4, but the Americans couldn’t tie it in the closing seconds.

It’s the end of the road for seven Great Falls skaters, who are out now out of eligibility as far as junior hockey goes. That list includes Connor Barta, Reed Link, Austin Krantz, Josh Larson, Jake Stephan, Stevan Goran and Tyler Garcia.

“They helped make this program what it is,” Heimel said. “They’re going to be missed.”

Metro Jets 5, Great Falls Americans 4

Metro 0 3 2 – 5

Great Falls 0 2 2 – 4

Second period – 1. Great Falls, Tanner Congdon (Josh Larson, Kyle Johnson) 3:07. 2. Great Falls, Miles Giorgione (Brendan Jester, Stevan Goran) 4:50 (power play). 3. Metro, Jacob Gleason (Jacob Drinkard) 9:35 (shorthanded). 4. Metro, Robert Flannery (Gleason, Devin Kelly) 15:57. 5. Cam Schwartz (Pearce Vance, Chase Sereno) 16:30.

Third period – 6. Great Falls, Tegan Harrington (Stevan Goran) 4:58. 7. Metro, Matt Dempsey (Graham Day, Drinkard) 10:48. 8. Metro, Mathias Tellstrom (Michael Tratar, Kevin Shand) 19:07 (empty net). 9. Great Falls, Tyler Garcia (Tegan Harrington) 19:31 (extra attacker).

Shots on goal – Metro 10-16-10—36. Great Falls 6-10-11—27.

Power play opportunities – Metro 0-for-2. Great Falls 1-for-2.

Goalies (shots-saves) – Metro, Kameron Limburg (W, 27-23). Great Falls, Jake Stephan (L, 35-31).

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans fall in Silver Cup semis, season ends (April 2, 2016)

Silver Cup Tourney: Americans come up short in 5-4 loss to Michigan team in semifinals

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

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 2, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans fall in Silver Cup semis, season ends

Additional Media Coverage: April 3, 2016: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Great Falls Americans Fall in Semifinal Round at NA3HL Silver Cup, Recap from Saturday 4/2

GF Tribune: Americans crush Quake, move on to Silver Cup semis

By Tribune Sports Staff

April 1, 2016

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – It took some time, but the Great Falls Americans have the Yellowstone Quake all figured out.

The two Frontier Division members met for the 11th time this season Friday night.

Just a little more than a week ago, before the puck dropped in the league finals between the Americans and the Quake, the hockey squad from Great Falls had struggled to a 3-5 mark against the regular-season champions from Wyoming.

Eight days later, Jeff Heimel’s Americans have won three times in as many tries against Yellowstone and captured a Frontier title in the process. Smooth-skating forward Wade Wylie registered a hat trick, net minder Lauren Massie stopped 20 of 21 shots and the Americans blew out the Quake 8-1 in the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup on Friday night.

“We did what we did in the finals,” Heimel said, “bottle up their forwards and be patient. We wanted to keep them contained and we knew we’d have our opportunities.”

Heimel was complimentary of Massie’s performance between the pipes. Massie, who went 16-7-1 in the regular season with a 1.86 goals against average and .929 save percentage, hadn’t played since March 12.

“Lauren played fantastic,” Heimel said. “We were so proud of how he played. That’s the benefit of having two guys who can play like that.”

The Americans reached 40 wins with the triumph, improving their record to 40-12-2 on the season. Wylie tallied five points, and Tegan Harrington, Josh Larson, Stevan Goran, Tyler Garcia all had two points apiece. Blake Miller, the former C.M. Russell High athlete, notched a plus-2.

With the win, Great Falls, winless in this tournament a year ago, advances to the semifinal round Saturday. Great Falls, the second-place finisher in Pool A, will play the Metro Jets (Mich.) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Jets won Pool B play with a 3-0 record.

“It’s a big step for our program,” Heimel said. “But the goal is to win a championship. It’s not enough to just be in the semifinals. We want a banner. We want a championship.”

Twin City (Minn.) and North Iowa will play first at 1 in the afternoon in the other semifinal contest.

The Americans, meanwhile, went 2-1 during pool play, defeating the Point Mallard (Ala.) Ducks 2-1 on Wednesday and falling to the North Iowa Bulls 4-1 on Thursday night.

With the backup Massie earning the nod over Jake Stephan on Friday night, the Americans fell behind 1-0 with 7:40 remaining in the first period. But Great Falls countered with the game’s next eight goals – from Goran (2), Garcia, Austin Krantz, Wylie (3) and Larson – to run the Quake out of the rink.

Wylie’s night drew praise from the fourth-year head coach.

“He was definitely very, very good tonight,” Heimel said of Wylie.

A team that has suffered inconsistency on the power play all season, Great Falls capitalized on four of its six chances with the man advantage and out-shot its opponent 38-21 for the game, including a 27-12 differential in the final two periods. Both teams combined for 46 penalty minutes.

“Our power play was unreal tonight,” Heimel said.

Americans 8, Quake 1

Yellowstone 1 0 0 – 1

Great Falls 2 2 4 – 8

First period – 1. Yellowstone, Jake Dickison (Hunter Ruschmeyer) 12:20. 2. Great Falls, Stevan Goran (Wade Wylie) 15:16. 3. Great Falls, Tyler Garcia (Wade Wylie) 19:40 (pp).

Second period – 4. Great Falls, Austin Krantz (unassisted) 3:27 (pp). 5. Great Falls, Wade Wylie (Tyler Garcia) 14:39 (pp).

Third period – 6. Great Falls, Wade Wylie (Tegan Harrington) 4:43. 7. Great Falls, Josh Larson (Tanner Congdon) 7:47. 8. Great Falls, Stevan Goran (Tegan Harrington, Tyler Garcia) 13:17. 9. Great Falls, Wade Wylie (Josh Larson) 17:09 (pp).

Shots on goal – Yellowstone 9-3-9—21. Great Falls 11-9-18—38.

Power play opportunities – Yellowstone 0-for-5. Great Falls 4-for-6.

Goalies (shots-saves) – Yellowstone, Lance Knudson (L, 38-30). Great Falls, Lauren Massie (W, 21-20).

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans crush Quake, move on to Silver Cup semis (April 1, 2016)

Silver Cup Tourney: Wylie’s hat trick helps send Great Falls to the Silver Cup Semifinals

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

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 1, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans crush Quake, move on to semis 

GF Tribune: Third-period woes doom Americans, lose to North Iowa

By Tribune Sports Staff

March 31, 2016

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – The Great Falls Americans fell victim to a disastrous third period here Thursday night.

The Americans, up 1-0 heading into the third period, surrendered four goals in the final stanza, falling to the powerful North Iowa Bulls 4-1 in the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup.

The Americans, which lost their first contest in the last six games, dropped to 39-12-2 overall, and will skate against fellow Frontier Division member the Yellowstone Quake on Friday night at 6:30 Mountain Time for a spot in the tournament’s semifinal round.

Great Falls, which beat Point Mallard (Ala.) 2-1 on Wednesday night, would advance to semifinal action with a win over the Quake.

Saturday’s semifinal round, the top two placers in Pool A and Pool B, commences at 1 in the afternoon. Sunday’s finale is slated for noon.

North Iowa, the Silver Cup champions in two out of the last three years, improved its mark to 48-2-3 overall. The Bulls won the Central Division’s regular season and playoffs.

Great Falls’ Josh Larson, a center who’s in his last season of eligibility, broke a scoreless tie less than four minutes in Thursday night.

On an assist from linemate Tanner Congdon, the Alaska native managed to slide one past Bulls net minder David Johnson for a 1-0 advantage with 16:03 remaining in the first period.

Johnson fended off 19 of 20 American shots, while Great Falls goalie Jake Stephan redirected 29 of 33.

The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Larson, a smooth southpaw who’s come on during the postseason, upped his goal total to 19 on the season, including four in the past six games.

Great Falls took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, holding a 7-6 advantage in shots.

North Iowa roared back with an offensive onslaught in the second period.

Still, despite Great Falls being outshot 18-4 in the middle frame, Heimel’s Americans maintained a 1-0 edge heading into the third.

North Iowa’s Mitch Parsons, assisted by Austin Jackson and Sean Mallonee, provided the equalizer 1:31 into the final frame, knotting the game at 1-all.

After Great Falls killed off a Tegan Harrington cross-checking penalty midway through the third, North Iowa’s Brett Gravelle gave his team a 2-1 margin 34 seconds later, an unassisted tally with 8:10 left.

After Great Falls used its timeout with 3:11 left, the Bulls sealed the game in the next 1:14. Kohei Sato tallied a pair of goals, spanning 23 seconds in game time, to push the cushion out to 4-1 with 1:57 left.

In the end, Great Falls was called for four infractions to North Iowa’s zero.

The Bulls will close out Pool A play with Point Mallard on Friday night at 6.

Bulls 4, Americans 1

Great Falls 1 0 0 – 1

North Iowa 0 0 4 – 4

First period – 1. Great Falls, Josh Larson (Tanner Congdon) 3:57.

Second period – No scoring.

Third period – 2. North Iowa, Mitch Parsons (Austin Jackson, Sean Mallonee) 1:31. 3. North Iowa, Brett Gravelle (unassisted) 11:50. 4. North Iowa, Kohei Sato (unassisted) 17:40. 5. North Iowa, Kohei Sato (Tom Lindgren) 18:03 (pp).

Shots on goal – Great Falls 7-4-9—20. North Iowa 6-18-0—33.

Power play opportunities – Great Falls 0-for-0. North Iowa 1-for-4.

Goalies (shots-saves) – Great Falls, Jake Stephan (L, 33-29). North Iowa, David Johnson (W, 20-19).

T – 2:09.

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Third period woes doom Americans, lose to North Iowa (March 31, 2016)

Silver Cup Tourney: North Iowa uses third period surge to down Great Falls, 4-1

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

ROMEOVILLE, IL., March 31, 2016 — In the first game of the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament in Romeoville, Illinois, the #5 Great Falls Americans (39-12-2) edged the #4 Point Mallard (Alabama) Ducks, 2-1 on Wednesday night as they picked up their first win at the prestigious tournament. During their first appearance at the Silver Cup last season, they went 0-for-3. Tyler Garcia and Malachi Bushey each picked up goals and Americans goalie Jake Stephan finished with 23 saves.

Great Falls’ next opponent would be a tough matchup. The Great Falls Americans challenged the top-ranked team in the NA3HL, the North Iowa Bulls (48-2-3) on Thursday night. The night before, they easily defeated the Yellowstone Quake, 6-2.

Ricards Bernhards currently leads the Americans in scoring with 30 goals and teammate Tanner Congdon is the assist leader with 47.

The two-time defending Silver Cup champion Bulls (2013 and 2014) are based out of Mason City, Iowa, and their top performers are leading scorer Brett Gravelle (63 goals) and Marshall Barnes (56 assists). David Johnson, the Bulls top goalie, is 23-0-1 on the season including three playoff victories. The coaching staff includes former Great Falls Americans assistant coach and Director of Player Personnel, Casey Kirley, who was with Great Falls for the 2014-15 season.

During the 2015-16 NA3HL Playoffs, the Iowa team routed both of their opponents in the Central Division to claim the championship. In the semifinals, they won two straight games over the Rochester (MN) Ice Hawks and out-scored them 22-4. The Bulls topped La Crosse (WI) Freeze 2-0 for the Central Division title while scoring 14 goals and holding the Freeze to five.

The #5 Great Falls Americans led 1-0 through the first two periods before the top-ranked North Iowa Bulls offense scored four straight third period goals to down the Americans, 4-1 during the second day of pool play at the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Hockey tournament in Illinois on Thursday evening.

Josh Larson gave Great Falls the early 1-0 lead 3:57 into the opening period off a pass from the team’s assist leader, Tanner Congdon. Jake Stephan blocked all six shots by the Bulls offense and the Americans tallied seven shots-on-goal.

During the middle period, neither team was able to find the back of the net despite both NA3HL squads accounting for 22 shots-on-goal. Great Falls had two minor penalties after the first forty minutes of action.

North Iowa wasted little time getting on the scoreboard in the final period. Mitch Parsons netted the Bulls first points 91 seconds into the final frame. Iowa native Austin Jackson and Kennewick, Washington product Sean Mallonee were each credited with an assist. Ten minutes later, Brett Gravelle, North Iowa’s leading scorer, scored his 63rd goal of the season to break the tie with his unassisted tally coming with eight minutes left in regulation. Kohei Sato, a forward from Japan, scored two goals in the final 2:20. Sato’s first goal went unassisted and Tom Lindgren registered the assist on the final goal with 1:57 to ensure the top-ranked team in the NA3HL got their second tournament win in as many days.

North Iowa scored four goals on 33 shot attempts by their offense with nine of those shots coming in the third stanza. Great Falls didn’t have over nine shots in any of the period and ended the contest with 20.

Kohei Sato’s second goal was the only power play that was converted by the Iowa team in their five attempts. Great Falls did not have any power play chances.

The #1 North Iowa team avoided the penalty box throughout the game while Great Falls incurred eight minutes of penalty time with four minors.

Jake Stephan had 24 of his 33 saves before the second intermission in his sixth loss of the season. David Johnson, the net-minder for North Iowa, stopped 19 shots and has won 23 of the 24 games he has started.

The #7 Texas Jr. Brahmas (1-1) tripped up the St. Louis Jr. Blues (1-1) by the score of 4-2. The second-ranked Metro Jets remained undefeated in the tournament (2-0) with a 2-1 win over the Twin City (MN) Steel (0-2). The Yellowstone Quake (0-2) struggled on the offensive side of the puck and fell to the #4 Point Mallard (Alabama) Ducks (1-1), 3-0 in the other games on Thursday at the Silver Cup.

Friday’s schedule sees the #3 St. Louis Jr. Blues facing the #2 Metro Jets beginning at 3:00PM (MST), the Texas Jr. Brahmas challenging the Twin City (MN) Steel at 3:30PM (MST) followed by the Point Mallard Ducks taking on the North Iowa Bulls at 6:00PM.

NEXT CONTEST: The #5 Great Falls Americans (1-1) will now go up against Frontier Division foe, the Yellowstone Quake (0-2) on Friday night at 6:30PM (MST) in the third day of the Silver Cup Tournament and the final day of pool play at the Canlan Ice Arena in Romeoville, Illinois.

The five-day tournament features two pools (Pool A and Pool B). The top two in each pool will play in the semifinal round on Saturday (April 2nd) with the winners facing off for the NA3HL championship on Sunday, April 3rd. For more information about the Silver Cup Tournament, please click here.

Additional Media Coverage: March 31, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Third-period woes doom Americans, lose to North Iowa

GF Tribune: Americans win in Chicago, beat Point Mallard

By Tribune Sports Staff

March 30, 2016

ROMEOVILLE, Ill. – Malachi Bushey scored with 12:09 left in the third period, and the Great Falls Americans edged the Point Mallard (Ala.) Ducks 2-1, taking their first game of the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup on Wednesday night.

Adam Apangalook was awarded the assist.

Despite registering just 19 shots on goal, Great Falls improved its record to 39-11-2 on the season as net minder Jake Stephan shielded away 23 of the Duck’s 24 attempts. It marks the fifth straight victory for the Americans.

Jeff Heimel’s crew will take on the North Iowa Bulls, a team who’s won two out of the last three Silver Cups, Thursday night at 6:30. Great Falls, winless in this event last season, will take on the Yellowstone Quake, the final team in the four-team Pool A, on Friday night.

Eight teams, split into a Pool A and Pool B, are skating for the championship, to be played Sunday, at this year’s national tournament. The top two finishers in each group will compete against each other Saturday for the right to battle for the title.

Forward Tyler Garcia opened the scoring in the first frame, when Wade Wylie found him for a tally with 13:05 remaining. Outshot 14-3 in the first 20 minutes, Great Falls went into the locker room up 1-0.

Point Mallard’s Josh Hamilton deadlocked the game at 1-all with 1:08 left in the second period, a stanza in which Great Falls outshot its opponent 13-3.

Americans 2, Ducks 1

Great Falls 1 0 1 — 2

Point Mallard 0 1 0 — 1

First period – 1. Great Falls, Tyler Garcia (Wade Wylie), 6:55.

Second period – 2. Point Mallard, Josh Hamilton (unassisted) 18:52

Third period – 3. Great Falls, Malachi Bushey (Adam Apangalook) 7:51.

Shots on goal – Great Falls 3-13-3—19. Point Mallard 14-3-7—24

Power play opportunities – Great Falls 1-for-3. Point Mallard 0-for-6.

Goalies (Shots-saves) – Great Falls, Jake Stephan (W, 24-23). Point Mallard, Cooper Seedott (L, 19-17).

T – 2:05

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans win in Chicago, beat Point Mallard (March 30, 2016)

Silver Cup Tourney: Great Falls escapes with 2-1 win over Point Mallard

By Kevin Scott

Box Score Game Sheet League Scoreboard Americans Team Statistics (Playoffs)

ROMEOVILLE, IL., March 30, 2016 — The Great Falls Americans earned a trip to the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Tournament (March 30 – April 3) in Romeoville, Illinois last Saturday night in Cody, Wyoming with a 5-4 victory in Game 2 against the Yellowstone Quake.

Great Falls, under the direction of fourth-year head coach Jeff Heimel, finished in second place in the regular season to the Yellowstone (Cody, WY) Quake but rebounded and after defeating the Bozeman Ice Dogs in two games in the Frontier Divisional Semi-Finals faced the Yellowstone Quake for the championship last week. After struggling all season against the Wyoming club, they defeating them twice in the best-of-three series for the automatic berth to the Silver Cup Tournament. Currently, the Americans are 39-11-2 including 20 wins at home inside the Great Falls Ice Plex.

The tournament features six divisional winners along with two Silver Cup Wildcard entries in a round robin format with two pools. Each team is guaranteed to play one game each day during the first three days. The fourth day will have the two best teams in each pool meet up in the semifinals with those two winners going to the championship game on Sunday afternoon.

  • Pool A: #1 North Iowa Bulls, #4 Point Mallard (AL) Ducks, #5 Great Falls Americans, 2nd Wild Card: Yellowstone (WY) Quake
  • Pool B: #2 Metro (MI) Jets, #3 St. Louis (MO) Jr. Blues, #6 Twin City (MN) Steel, 1st Wild Card: Texas Jr. Brahmas

This is the Americans second consecutive appearance in the prestigious tournament as they conclude their second season in the North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL). The fifth-seeded Great Falls squad faced the #4 Point Mallard Ducks on Wednesday night during the first day of competition.

The Frontier Division champions are led in scoring by forward Ricards Bernhards. The native of Jelgava, Latvia has scored 30 goals so far this season. Tanner Congdon, a forward from Anchorage, Alaska, dished out 46 assists.

The Ducks (39-11-3), located out of Decatur, Alabama, won the South Divisional championship over the Texas Jr. Brahmas in two games to earn a spot in the playoffs after defeating the Sugar Land (TX) Imperials in three games in the divisional semifinals.

Josh Hamilton led the Alabama squad with 37 goals this season including five playoff games. Teammate Justin Dunn is the assist leader with 53.

The #5 Great Falls Americans (39-11-2) won their fifth straight playoff game by escaping with a 2-1 win over #4 Point Mallard (Alabama) Ducks during the first day of competition at the 2016 NA3HL Silver Cup Championship Hockey Tournament in Illinois.

Forward Wade Wylie dished out his 16th assist seven minutes into the game when he found Tyler Garcia for the power play score to open up the first period of play at the Silver Cup Tournament. Great Falls prevented the Ducks offense from finding the back of the net during the first twenty minutes. Despite the one-point deficit, Point Mallard out-shot the Americans 14-3. Goaltender Jake Stephan had 14 saves.

The scoring was kept to a minimum during the second period. Josh Hamilton’s unassisted score for Point Mallard tied the contest at 1-1 with 1:08 left before intermission. Great Falls produced 13 shots-on-goal but trailed in that category after two periods, 17-16.

The Great Falls Americans broke the tie at the 7:51 mark of the final period of regulation. Malachi Bushey fired a shot that sailed by the Ducks goaltender Cooper Seedott off the stick of Adam Apangalook to give the Americans back the lead. Both defenses held up the rest of the way.

During the middle period, Great Falls took 13 of their 19 total shots of the night. The team from Alabama finished with five more shots than Great Falls (24-19) with 14 coming in the first period. Great Falls stopped all six of Point Mallard’s power play chances from becoming points. Tyler Garcia provided the only successful power play for the Americans in their three opportunities.

The Americans could not stay away from the penalty box as the Montana team finished with seven infractions for 24 minutes of penalty time. The Ducks received four minor penalties resulting in eight minutes of penalty time.

Great Falls goaltender Jake Stephan ran his record to 21-4-1 as he stopped 23 of the 24 shots that Point Mallard made. Cooper Seedott recorded 17 saves in 58 minutes of action in the loss for Point Mallard.

In earlier action from Wednesday’s Silver Cup, the #2 Metro (Michigan) Jets (1-0) earned a shutout win over #7 Texas Jr. Brahmas (0-1) and the #3 St. Louis Junior Blues (1-0) edged the #6 Twin City (MN) Steel (0-1) 4-3. The nightcap saw the #1 North Iowa Bulls (1-0) easily defeating the #8 (Wild Card) Yellowstone Quake (0-1), 6-2.

NEXT CONTEST: The #5 Great Falls Americans will now go up against the top-ranked North Iowa Bulls at 6:30PM (MST) in the second day of the prestigious tournament at the Canlan Ice Arena in Romeoville, Illinois on Thursday night.

The five-day tournament features two pools (Pool A and Pool B). The top two in each pool will play in the semifinal round on Saturday (April 2nd) with the winners facing off for the NA3HL championship on Sunday, April 3rd. For more information about the Silver Cup Tournament, please click here.

Additional Media Coverage: March 27, 2016: MTN Sports (KRTV): Great Falls Americans schedule for NA3HL Silver Cup

Additional Media Coverage: March 27, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans begin Silver Cup quest Wednesday

Additional Media Coverage: March 29, 2016: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans hope experience pays off at Silver Cup

Additional Media Coverage: March 29, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans begin Silver Cup Wednesday

Additional Media Coverage: March 30, 2016: Great Falls Tribune: Americans win in Chicago, beat Point Mallard 

Additional Media Coverage: March 30, 2016: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans win first game of 2016 Silver Cup

GF Tribune: Americans begin Silver Cup Wednesday

By Steve Schreck, Tribune Sports Writer 

March 29, 2016

GREAT FALLS, MT — Jeff Heimel and Connor Barta believe the Great Falls Americans are playing their best hockey of the season.

It could not have come at a better time.

The Americans, fresh off of back-to-back Frontier championships, are in Romeoville, Ill, this week for the North American 3 Hockey League’s Silver Cup, a national tournament that features the top eight teams in the league.

“It’s good to peak at the right time,” said Heimel, the Great Falls head coach.

The tournament, to commence Wednesday at the Canlan Ice Arena, is comprised of the NA3HL’s six division champions and two wild cards.

Two pools separate the eight squads, and both pools will battle each other for the first three days before the top two teams in each pool meet in semifinal play Saturday. The winners will compete for the title Sunday.

“Right now, we are pretty much taking it a game at a time. We’re really looking forward to playing (Point) Mallard (Ala.) here (Wednesday),” Barta, the veteran defenseman, said of the team’s first game Wednesday night at 6:30. “Right now, a game at a time. But it’d be awesome to win this whole thing.”

Point Mallard, the South Division’s title holder, went 4-1 in the playoffs and 35-9-3 in the regular season. The Ducks boast two forwards, Justin Dunn and Josh Hamilton, who each have more than 30 goals on the season.

Barta, a plus-1 in four postseason games, thinks the Americans, 38-11-2 overall, are better equipped than the Great Falls team that made the trip to the Chicago area this time a year ago.

Great Falls has 12-13 skaters, according to Heimel, who experienced the Silver Cup last season, when it lost all three of its games and was sent home early.

“I think we are playing our best hockey,” said Barta, the Great Falls product. “We’ve really come together as a team. At the beginning of the season, we weren’t that close. Now, we’ve become a lot closer throughout the last couple months, which is really good, especially going into this tournament.”

Great Falls, in Pool A with North Iowa, Point Mallard and Yellowstone, continues action Thursday against the Bulls of North Iowa, a team that has held the Silver Cup in two out of the past three seasons and holds a 46-2-3 mark this year.

The Americans and Quake, which reached the field as one of the two wild cards, will meet for the 11th time this season Friday night at 6:30. This past Saturday, Great Falls edged Yellowstone 5-4, sweeping the Quake in best-of-three Frontier finals series.

“I think all eight teams here are good teams,” Heimel said. “I don’t think there’s such thing as a good draw. You have to come in, you have to win and you’re going to have to beat the best teams to do it.”

Josh Larson (three goals, three assists) and Tanner Congdon (1G, 5A) both tallied a team-high six points as Great Falls skated past Bozeman and Yellowstone en route to the Silver Cup. Larson and Tegan Harrington led the team in plus-minus at plus-5.

Net minder Jake Stephan was splendid between the pipes, stopping 94.6 percent of the shots he encountered and registering a 1.61 goals against average in four contests.

The team’s playmaking, Heimel said, has been “phenomenal.”

“All four lines of our forwards can really score,” Barta said, “and then our defensive core is probably one of best in the league.

“I think we are all ready to go for it.”

Story Courtesy: Great Falls Tribune: Americans begin Silver Cup Wednesday (March 29, 2016)

ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans Hope Experience Pays off at Silver Cup

By ABC/FOX Montana Sports Staff

March 29, 2016

GREAT FALLS, MT — Just like last season, the Great Falls Americans are one of the last eight teams still with a chance to capture the NA3HL’s Silver Cup Title. And Great Falls hopes the experience gained in last years trip to the finals pays off with a better showing this time around.

The Americans arrived in Romeoville, Illinois on Monday, and practiced Tuesday in preparation of Wednesday night’s opener against Point Mallard in Pool-A play. Last season, Great Falls went 0-3 in pool play, failing to advance to the four team semifinals.

Head coach Jeff Heimel says about a third of this years roster played in the Silver Cup a season ago and that everyone, including himself, learned exactly what it takes to be successful in dealing with all the elements.

“It’s a learning experience for so many people, including myself,” Heimel says. “Like when to travel and how to travel and what to do and what not to do in an event of that magnitude carries a lot of variables and moving parts. I just think that experience of how to have our team functioning at all capacities, and just think that a locker room that has been there before and is itching to have a much better result and to win a championship and to not be satisfied with just a Division title.”

Fifth seeded Great Falls will open play Wednesday night at 6:30pm Montana Time against a Point Mallard team that is seeded fourth in the tournament and won the South Division Title. On Thursday, the Americans face top seeded North Iowa. Then on Friday, Great Falls will play Frontier Division rival Yellowstone, which was one of two Wild cards to qualify for the tournament. Both those games will also be 6:30pm starts.

Story Courtesy: ABC/FOX Montana (KFBB): Americans Hope Experience Pays off at Silver Cup (March 29, 2016)