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BILLINGS - Missoula Bruins captain Cody Skilling was the hero Saturday as the Bruins won a pair of games to earn a chance at winning the program's first high school state championship.

After wrapping up pool play undefeated with a 7-2 victory over the Bozeman Icedogs, Missoula got a pair of goals from Skilling, including the game winner midway through the period, in the Bruins' 5-3 semifinal win over the Great Falls Americans.

Missoula, which improved to 27-9-4, will take on the winner of Saturday's late semifinal between Billings and Bozeman in the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m.

Missoula Bruins 5, Great Falls Americans 3

After both teams skated into the semifinal's first intermission scoreless, the Bruins charged to a 3-0 lead behind goals by Pete Ferm, Skilling and Casey Higgins.

But the Americans clawed back to tie, getting goals by Logan Schermele and Dylan Anderson in the final minute of the second period and a tally by Craig Buford less than three minutes into the third.

Skilling netted the the go-ahead goal with just under 10 minutes left in regulation before Anders Nord iced the win with a late empty-net goal.

Aaron Schwartz stopped 33 shots in goal for Missoula.


Great Falls 0 2 1 - 3

Missoula 0 3 2 - 5

Second period

M - Pete Ferm (Castle Creighton), 3:02

M - Cody Skilling (Anders Nord, Aaron Rio), 13:59

M - Casey Higgins (Shae Heyman, Creighton), 15:08

GF - Logan Schermele (Jordan Van Son), 17:02

GF - Dylan Anderson (power play) (Jared Baker, Brady Christiaens), 17:49

Third period

GF - Craig Buford (Baker), 2:52

M - Skilling (Chris Trethewey), 8:17

M - Nord (empty net) (unassisted), 17:56

Great Falls goalie - Mike McDaniel, 40 saves

Missoula goalie - Aaron Schwartz, 33 saves

Missoula Bruins 7, Bozeman Icedogs 2

The Bruins took control early, sprinting to a 4-0 lead on goals by Cody Jahrig, Nord, Skilling and Castle Creighton.

After surrendering two Bozeman tallies by Morgan Hefty the Bruins ran away with a goal by Derek Snodgrass and two more from Skilling to complete his hat trick.

Schwartz stopped 33 shots for Missoula.

Pool play

Bozeman 0 2 0 - 2

Missoula 4 2 1 - 7

First period

M - Cody Jahrig (Brett Mathews), :45

M - Anders Nord (Garrett Wilkey, Mathews), 4:30

M - Cody Skilling (power play) (Derek Snodgrass), 17:00

M - Castle Creighton (Snodgrass, Nord), 17:14

Second period

B - Morgan Hefty (power play) (Alison Cygan), 2:42

B - Hefty (power play) (Zack Stowell), 4:30

M - Snodgrass (Nord), 13:05

M - Skilling (Snodgrass), 13:17

Third period

M - Skilling (Jahrig), :33

Bozeman goalie - Richard Fithian, 19 saves and Sam Warwood, 11 saves.

Missoula goalie - Aaron Schwartz, 33 saves


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