By Kevin Scott
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SHERIDAN, Wyo., January 16, 2021 — It has been a tough two weekends for the #2 Great Falls Americans (16-10-1-0) as they have had a huge challenge when they faced the #1 Frontier Division seed, the Sheridan (WY) Hawks (21-1-0-0).
Great Falls fell last weekend at home with Sheridan scoring twice as many goals after the weekend series (8-4). During Friday’s performance in Wyoming, the Americans trailed 5-1 after two periods and were outscored 4-1 during the final frame.
The Americans were trying to turn around their losing streak on Saturday and get back to winning after starting out the season with eleven consecutive victories.
The Great Falls Americans lost for the fourth time in two weeks to the #1 Sheridan (WY) Hawks on Saturday night in Wyoming. The Hawks dominated on the offensive end by securing a 9-2 win over the Americans thanks to two goals by Nathan Gilleshammer and 33 saves from goaltender James Downie. Henry Chavez netted the two goals for the second-place team in the Frontier Division.
The Hawks answered the call during the first period as five different players each recorded successful scoring drives that helped them build a 5-0 lead after the first twenty minutes of action on the ice. Three returners from last year’s inaugural squad scored including Jacob Cummings, Blake Billings and Logan Syrup along with newcomers Taylor Frerichs and Derek Humphrey. Humphrey and Cummings each made two assists with Simon Herz, Jacob Cummings, Lucas Helland, Luke Desmarais, McCaffrey Billings, Nathan Gilleshammer and Dakota Kott and Blake Billings providing the helpers. Humphrey made his debut last night against the Americans and scored five points (2 goals, 3 assists). Great Falls took just eight shots while Sheridan contributed 19.
The Hawks took 12:43 off the clock before racking up their sixth goal. Michigan native Dakota Kott, from a pass by Blake Billings, added his fifth goal on the short-handed play. The Americans struck 20 seconds later when Henry Chavez put the biscuit in the basket off a dish by Kellen Harris while Sheridan was in the penalty box. Great Falls’ offense only accumulated 11 shots in the second period. Sheridan had 19 as both teams managed just one goal.
Sheridan outscored Great Falls 3-1 in the third period. North Dakota forward Nathan Gilleshammer scored two goals and teammate Justin Schwartzmiller added one during a 5:21 scoring spree. Zach Brydges assisted on two of the three goals with Tony Brings, Simon Herz and Jonathon Teasdale chipping in one apiece. The final minute saw the Americans’ forward Henry Chavez light up the lamp for the second time tonight on a power play. Connor Chesner and Hunter Maschke earned the assists.
Despite Great Falls taking more shots (16-15) in the third period, the Americans finished with 35 of the 85 total shots taken during the sixty-minute NA3HL junior hockey contest.
Great Falls had just three minor penalties in their 27th game of the season. All five of Sheridan’s infractions came after the first period, which resulted in 31 minutes spent off the ice. The Americans scored on both of their power play chances.
Nathan Gilleshammer’s came up one goal short of a hat trick and Derek Humphrey along with Jacob Cummings finished with one goal and two assists to lead the Hawks to their 21st victory in 22 games. Henry Chavez led the way for the visiting team with two goals.
James Downie remained perfect (ten wins in ten games) in the net for the winning team as he swatted away 33 saves. Great Falls started Ben Monsivais, who finished with 11 saves in 15 minutes before backup Hunter Hadsock came into the game. Hadsock, one of three players on the team hailing from Colorado, stopped 30 of the 35 shots sent his way.
NEXT CONTEST: Before returning home at the end of January for a pair of contests against the Yellowstone (Cody, WY) Quake, Great Falls travels to Butte, Montana for a single contest against the Cobras on Saturday, January 23rd. The live action starts from the Butte Community Ice Center at 7:00PM and fans can catch the contest on the NA3HL’s streaming service, HockeyTV.