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Avatar By Kevin Scott Nov24,2023

GREAT FALLS, Mont., November 17, 2023 — The last time the #5 Great Falls Americans (9-9-0-0) and the #7 Sheridan (WY) Hawks (4-13-1-1) squared off on the ice was last month (October 13-14) in Sheridan, Wyoming.

It was the Americans second road trip of the season after being home for the first seven games to start the 2023-24 campaign. Great Falls picked up their first shutout of the season with a 4-0 blanking of the Hawks on October 13th. Ty O’Bey, Luke Pizzey, Jacob James and Christian Crutcher all saw their shots go in the net. The Americans goaltender for the night, Kaden Ryhder was impressive too. He managed to get 45 saves in his second victory of the year.

The Americans completed the sweep, but it was not easy as the Americans won in a shootout, 4-3 on October 14th. The visiting team held a 3-2 lead with three minutes left in regulation but a late goal with 18 seconds remaining gave the Hawks hope as they ended in a tie in regulation. The five-minute extra frame delivered no goals for either squad. Great Falls’ Dmitri Kuleshov and Ty O’Bey scored during the one-on-one session with Sheridan goalie Zach Broxterman for the win. Caleb Murray of Sheridan was the only player to get the puck in the net against Kaden Ryhder.

Since their first encounter, Great Falls had two victories in five contests. They went 1-1 against the Butte Irish in their home and away series, one home win against the Bozeman Ice Dogs and three defeats at the hand of a tough Helena Bighorns squad. Meanwhile, the Hawks went 2-5-0-0 since the second week of October. Sheridan tacked on two wins against the Yellowstone (WY) Quake, two losses to the Butte Irish and three setbacks against the Gillette (WY) Wild.

Great Falls played host to Sheridan this weekend with hopes of stopping their three-game skid.

The #5 Great Falls Americans played a complete game against the #7 Sheridan (WY) Hawks on Friday in Great Falls. Americans standout Dmitri Kuleshov scored four goals and Ty O’Bey chipped in one goal and dished out three assists in a convincing 7-2 win over the Hawks.

The Americans were honoring the military for “Military Appreciation Weekend” in Great Falls as part of their home game promotional nights on Friday and Saturday. All military members received half off tickets ($4.00) each and 25% off beer and merchandise with special prizes and events throughout the game.

The Americans played some of their best hockey, offensively this season during the first period. Great Falls raced out to a three-goal lead behind three goals by forward Dmitri Kuleshov. Ty O’Bey collected three assists and three players gathered one assist including Phil Harrell, Tariq Khan, and Aaron James. The home team racked up 23 shots while allowing three before the first intermission.

Early in the second period, Ty O’Bey increased the lead for the host team to 4-0 when his slapshot sailed over Sheridan netminder Joseph DaRosa, who was playing his first game for the Hawks. Aaron James and Phil Harrell earned the assists. Sheridan netted their first goal of the game with five minutes remaining when Daniel Shelden scored his fourth goal of the year with helpers coming from Elijah White and Tanner Freed. Great Falls added a fifth score when Aaron Leaf, who is playing his 99th game as a member of the Americans, put in his third scoring drive with assistance coming from Tariq Khan and Sam Duehlmeier while Sheridan was in the sin bin.

In the final stanza, Aiden Kennedy and Sam Duehlmeier found Jacob James for the first goal of the third for the 6-1 advantage. Four minutes later, Dmitri Kuleshov delivered his 14th goal off the stick of Aiden Kennedy to put the game out of reach (7-1) with eight minutes left. Sheridan forward William Clark added his first goal as a member of the Hawks before the final buzzer. Kaden Lansing and Gavin Langham made the assists on the Hawks’ second scoring drive.

Great Falls scored on one of their three power play opportunities while Sheridan failed to produce any goals on their two chances. Both teams combined for five minor penalties.

The Americans finished with 48 shots-on-goal after having 23 in the first frame. Sheridan took 30 shots after the first period for a total of 33.

Kaden Ryhder posted his sixth win (6-3-0-0) of the season by preventing 31 of 33 shots from going in the net. Joseph DaRosa (0-1-0-0) allowed seven goals to end his first appearance for the Hawks with 41 saves.

NOTES: The Great Falls Americans teamed up on Thursday with the Uptown Optimist Club in Great Falls for their annual Christmas Tree sales. The players set up and helped with the delivery of the trees. Tree tickets are $50.00 per book and is good for your tree, wreath, door charms or accessories purchase. Contact Dana Schoolcraft ([email protected]) to secure your tree tickets.

The Americans traded forwards Austin Blackner and Keaton Rasmussen to the Yellowstone Quake and Great Falls received forward Zac Orwig in the deal this week. Goaltender Kaden Stillwell and defenseman Christian Crutcher were released.

Ty Brander, a defenseman from Airdrie, Alberta, Canada was this week’s guest on the “Americans Podcast with Jim Quick.” Ty and Jim talked hockey and much more. 

In this week’s “Baldy’s Puck Drop” Newsletter, Americans team owner Matt Leaf has a player profile of team captain defenseman Phil Harrell, sponsor information, and upcoming Americans events. 

FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: Alexander Petrotto of the Sabres scored in the first and third periods while teammates while Benjamen Larson and Grady Nygaard each assisted on two scoring plays as the #4 Badlands (SD) Sabres (9-5-1-2) held on for a 5-2 victory over the #6 Butte Irish (7-10-0-0) inside the Roosevelt Park Ice Arena in Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday. Luke Bouzas and Patrick Crooks scored for the Irish. Easton Eriksmoen ran his record to 6-2-0-0 with a 29-save performance. Hunter Oger started the contest and accounted for two saves in ten minutes before Eriksmoen took over. Joshua Horacek of Butte saw his record drop to 0-3-0-0 in four appearances but not before accruing 22 saves.

The top-ranked Gillette (WY) Wild (17-1-0-1) and the third-ranked Bozeman Ice Dogs (11-7-0-1) each registered three goals each after two periods before the Wild outscored the Ice Dogs, 4-2 in the third for the 7-5 win. Chase Hapka led Gillette with three goals while Sam Ingram converted two goals for Bozeman. Cole Wheaton (7-1-0-1), who is in his second season with the Wild, added another win to season total by acquiring 37 saves. Bozeman netminder Matthew Ryynanen, who lost his fifth regulation game (7-5-0-1), made 26 saves.

The #2 Helena Bighorns (15-2-0-0) and the #8 Yellowstone (WY) Quake (0-17-1-0) have the weekend off and will return to the ice next weekend.

Kevin Scott
Author: Kevin Scott


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