NOTE: A Special Thanks to Dustin Bauer for providing the photo.
By Kevin Scott
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GREAT FALLS, Mont., October 1, 2023 — The Great Falls Americans, currently fourth in the NA3HL Frontier Division standings, have won half of their games so far after six contests (4-3-0-0) with all of them coming on home ice.
On Sunday during their final home contest before going on the road next week to face the #1 Bozeman Ice Dogs (6-0-0-0), they faced the #5 Badlands (SD) Sabres (1-4-0-0) to wrap up their three-game homestand with the South Dakota team.
Great Falls defeated Badlands in Friday’s opener (4-3 game story) but could not get their offense going for Saturday evening’s game and fell 3-1 (game story) to give the Sabres their first victory of the year.
Great Falls was hoping to get their fourth overall win and pick up two weekend wins on Sunday afternoon.
Dmitri Kuleshov scored a hat trick including the game-winning score in the shootout as the #4 Great Falls Americans overcame a deficit to defeat the visiting #5 Badlands (SD) Sabres, 6-5 in a shootout victory to conclude their three-games series in Great Falls. Blake Komrofske put two goals in the net for the Americans fourth victory.
An exciting first period saw the Americans score four of the six goals with 18 shots taken. American forwards Dmitri Kuleshov and Blake Komrofske each put the biscuit in the basket twice while Aden Cobbs and Ryan Jordan netted the goals for the Sabres. Joseph Buschmann and Tariq Khan each chipped in two assists while Jacob James, Ty O’Bey, Aidan Kennedy and Caleb Gamboa for Great Falls. Jack Walters, Dylan Woolstenhulme, Peyton Wilson, and Laurence Lundberg earned the assists on both Badlands scoring opportunities.
The second period was much different than the opening. Both squads were unsuccessful in getting the puck in the net despite 22 combined shots-on-goal.
Badlands’ offense came ready to play in the final stanza by scoring three goals during a five-minute span to take their first lead of the day. Carter Kilen, Max Mehus, and Laurence Lundberg acquired the goals with Lundberg’s goal breaking the tie with 11:22 remaining. The Sabres players making the assists were Ethan Seanor, Thayne Coston, Mason Witt, Carter Kilen, Alexander Petrotto, and Peyton Wilson. Six minutes later, Jacob James slapshot evened the score (5-5) for the Americans with 5:36 left in regulation. Aaron James and Joseph Buschmann created the assists. James’ goal sent the game into a five-minute three-on-three overtime.
The extra period came and went without any goals being scored.
The one-on-one shootout was won by the Americans as Dmitri Kuleshov scored the only goal against the opposing goaltender. Aiden Kennedy was unsuccessful in his attempt against Sabres goalie Dakota Jahnke. Brady Ridnour, Ryan Jordan, and Jack Walters of the Sabres failed to get a score off Great Falls goalie Ryan Stowe.
Both teams gathered over 50 shots in the game with Great Falls taking 51 of the 104 shots-on-goal in sixty-five minutes of NA3HL junior hockey action.
Kayden Ryhder got the start for the Americans in the net. The Pennsylvania standout played 48 minutes and swatted away 23 of the 28 shots. He was relieved with 8:53 remaining by Ryan Stowe, who finished with 22 saves and never allowed a goal by the Sabres. Stowe (3-0-0-0) got the credit for the win.
Hunter Oger started and played the first period by redirecting 14 of 18 shot attempts for the Badlands. Dakota Jahnke played the rest of the way ending the contest with 30 saves. Jahnke (0-0-0-1) took his first (shootout) loss of the season in his first year with the South Dakota squad.
NOTES: After today’s game, Great Falls Americans fans were able to enjoy “FREE SKATING” after the weekend home finale for Great Falls as members of the Americans joined them on the ice. The Great Falls Ice Plex provided free rental skates.
The Americans had two special local groups in attendance as students and staff of the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB) and members of the Galloping Guns 4-H Club were invited to today’s Frontier Division matchup. As part of the Americans community outreach program, members of the hockey team toured the MSDB campus this past week and met with students and staff to talk to them about hockey.
The Americans have a new online team store this season with a variety of items to buy. Click here to buy online or purchase your Americans souvenirs at any of the home games.
Please check out the Americans website at www.greatfallsamericans.com for all your updated news, game summaries, rosters, photo galleries, etc.
FRONTIER DIVISION UPDATE: No other Frontier Division teams competed today.
NEXT CONTEST: After having seven consecutive home games, the Americans will get their first road test of the season on Sunday, October 8th when they travel to Bozeman, Montana to face the #1 Bozeman Ice Dogs (6-0-0-0). The puck drops at Haynes Pavilion at 4:30PM (MST). Fans that can’t make the trip can watch on the NA3HL’s new streaming service, NAHLTV. Click here to learn more about how to view any of the Americans home and away contests.
WATCH PARTY (ROAD GAMES): All away games this season will feature a “Watch Party” at the Stadium Bar & Casino located at 1121 5th Street South in Great Falls, Montana.
Click here for the 2023-24 Great Falls Americans schedule and results.
2023 Skating with the GF Americans (Photos by Lily Scott)